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DNA graphene

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Characterizing the genetic makeup of individuals can help select the best treatment for individuals, but requires that sequencing of the whole DNA of patients can be achieved for less than $1000. Fortunately, recent discoveries in physics promise help. Indeed, the discovery of the thinnest material known to mankind, graphene, promises a new and cheaper way to sequence human DNA. As reported in the December 2011 highlight, graphene pores can conduct electrophoretically DNA through very small pores, so-called nanopores. A new study has demonstrated that graphene, forming a single atomic layer thin stripe with a nanopore in the middle, can conduct an electrical current, the sheet current, around the pore. The sheet current is sensitive to the DNA passing through the pore and may even sense the passing DNA's sequence. In this case monitoring the current can establish a DNA sequence reader. The sensitivity of the sheet current depends critically on an orderly passage of DNA. Optimal sensitivity can arise when the passing DNA is stretched mechanically. Molecular dynamics simulations using NAMD suggest conditions for mechanically manipulating DNA for optimal sequence analysis. More on our graphene nanopore website.