Biomedical Microdevices

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 671–682 | Cite as

Lipid bilayer coated Al2O3 nanopore sensors: towards a hybrid biological solid-state nanopore

  • Bala Murali Venkatesan
  • James Polans
  • Jeffrey Comer
  • Supriya Sridhar
  • David Wendell
  • Aleksei Aksimentiev
  • Rashid BashirEmail author


Solid-state nanopore sensors are highly versatile platforms for the rapid, label-free electrical detection and analysis of single molecules, applicable to next generation DNA sequencing. The versatility of this technology allows for both large scale device integration and interfacing with biological systems. Here we report on the development of a hybrid biological solid-state nanopore platform that incorporates a highly mobile lipid bilayer on a single solid-state Al2O3 nanopore sensor, for the potential reconstitution of ion channels and biological nanopores. Such a system seeks to combine the superior electrical, thermal, and mechanical stability of Al2O3 solid-state nanopores with the chemical specificity of biological nanopores. Bilayers on Al2O3 exhibit higher diffusivity than those formed on TiO2 and SiO2 substrates, attributed to the presence of a thick hydration layer on Al2O3, a key requirement to preserving the biological functionality of reconstituted membrane proteins. Molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate that the electrostatic repulsion between the dipole of the DOPC headgroup and the positively charged Al2O3 surface may be responsible for the enhanced thickness of this hydration layer. Lipid bilayer coated Al2O3 nanopore sensors exhibit excellent electrical properties and enhanced mechanical stability (GΩ seals for over 50 h), making this technology ideal for use in ion channel electrophysiology, the screening of ion channel active drugs and future integration with biological nanopores such as α-hemolysin and MspA for rapid single molecule DNA sequencing. This technology can find broad application in bio-nanotechnology.


Nanopore Al2O3 Lipid bilayer Hybrid biological solid-state Nanopore 



We thank Dr. Scott MacLaren for AFM assistance and Dr. Rick Haasch for assistance with XPS at the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory Central Facilities, University of Illinois. We also thank the staff at Micro and Nanotechnology Lab, University of Illinois for assistance in device fabrication. We acknowledge the funding from the National Institutes of Health through the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research Nanomedicine Development Center (PN2 EY 018230) and NIH R21 EB007472. A.A. and J.C. acknowledge support from the National Institutes of Health (R01-HG005115 and P41-RR05969), the National Science Foundation (PHY-0822613 and DMR-0955959), and the Petroleum Research Fund (48352-G6). The supercomputer time was provided via TRAC grant MCA05S028.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bala Murali Venkatesan
    • 1
    • 2
  • James Polans
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jeffrey Comer
    • 3
    • 4
  • Supriya Sridhar
    • 1
    • 2
  • David Wendell
    • 6
    • 7
  • Aleksei Aksimentiev
    • 3
    • 4
  • Rashid Bashir
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of Illinois at Urbana ChampaignIllinoisUSA
  2. 2.Micro and Nanotechnology LaboratoryUniversity of Illinois at Urbana ChampaignIllinoisUSA
  3. 3.Department of PhysicsUniversity of Illinois at Urbana ChampaignIllinoisUSA
  4. 4.Beckman InstituteUniversity of Illinois at Urbana ChampaignIllinoisUSA
  5. 5.Department of BioengineeringUniversity of Illinois at Urbana ChampaignIllinoisUSA
  6. 6.College of MedicineUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  7. 7.College of EngineeringUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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