Electrically Tunable Quenching of DNA Fluctuations in Biased Solid-State Nanopores

Hu Qiu, Anuj Girdhar, Klaus Schulten, Jean Pierre Leburton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nanopores offer sensors for a broad range of nanoscale materials, in particular ones of biological origin such as single- and double-stranded DNA or DNA-protein complexes. In order to increase single-molecule sensitivity, it is desirable to control biomolecule motion inside nanopores. In the present study, we investigate how in the case of a double-stranded DNA the single-molecule sensitivity can be improved through bias voltages. For this purpose we carry out molecular dynamics simulations of the DNA inside nanopores in an electrically biased metallic membrane. Stabilization of DNA, namely, a reduction in thermal fluctuations, is observed under positive bias voltages, while negative voltages bring about only negligible stabilization. For positive biases the stabilization arises from electrostatic attraction between the negatively charged DNA backbone and the positively charged pore surface. Simulations on a teardrop-shaped pore show a transverse shift of DNA position toward the sharp end of the pore under positive bias voltages, suggesting the possibility to control DNA alignment inside nanopores through geometry shaping. The present findings open a feasible and efficient route to reduce thermal noise and, in turn, enhance the signal-to-noise ratio in single-molecule nanopore sensing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4482-4488
Number of pages7
JournalACS Nano
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 26 2016


  • DNA sequencing
  • biosensor
  • molecular dynamics
  • solid-state nanopore
  • stabilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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