Identifying single bases in a DNA oligomer with electron tunnelling

Shuo Huang, Jin He, Shuai Chang, Peiming Zhang, Feng Liang, Shengqin Li, Michael Tuchband, Alexander Fuhrmann, Robert Ros, Stuart Lindsay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


It has been proposed that single molecules of DNA could be sequenced by measuring the physical properties of the bases as they pass through a nanopore1,2. Theoretical calculations suggest that electron tunnelling can identify bases in single-stranded DNA without enzymatic processing3-5, and it was recently experimentally shown that tunnelling can sense individual nucleotides6 and nucleosides 7. Here, we report that tunnelling electrodes functionalized with recognition reagents can identify a single base flanked by other bases in short DNA oligomers. The residence time of a single base in a recognition junction is on the order of a second, but pulling the DNA through the junction with a force of tens of piconewtons would yield reading speeds of tens of bases per second.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)868-873
Number of pages6
JournalNature nanotechnology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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