What you will do
Scaling of CMOS technology has been a tremendous driver for the transformation of technology and the society. In parallel to the improvements in computation power, technology has made its way to the life sciences and has been fueling a revolution in diagnostic capabilities and throughput. One of the latest technologies that have hit the market in genomics is based on nanopores. Precisely measuring ionic currents through biological or solid‐state nanopores allows to determine the molecular properties of objects passing through the pores with great accuracy. Biological nanopores are already revolutionizing the field of genomics by means of fairly high throughput, long read length, single molecule DNA sequencing.
Nanopores yield a wealth of molecular information, which can also be exploited for label‐free analysis of non‐DNA biomolecules, such as proteins. Proteins do pose specific issues that are different than in the case of DNA. While the diameter of proteins is much larger than the diameter of a DNA strand, the total size is much smaller. This requires on the one hand larger pores to allow molecular translocation, but much increased read‐out speeds. It is, however, notoriously difficult to read out nanopores at high speeds due to the low ionic currents through the pore. At imec, we are developing a novel read‐out scheme for solid‐state nanopores, which is based on the direct integration of nanopores with state‐of‐the art silicon transistors. Rather than measuring the ion current through the pore directly, but we measure the response of the transistor current to the presence of molecules in the pore. This reduces the impact of ionic current noise and provides a path to large scale parallelization.
In this postdoc project, you are initially responsible for (bio)physical characterization of the first generation of nanopore transistors, developing a deep understanding of the device properties, also by comparing the signals to "classical" nanopores. In parallel you will develop schemes, based on both classical and transistor based nanopores to enable label‐free screening of proteins. You will closely interact with both device designers and process integration engineers for device assay development, as well as biophysics and biochemistry researchers for molecular assay development. You will carry out your work in imec's life lab, where you can work together with an international, multidisciplinary team.
Supervisor: Pol Van Dorpe (KU Leuven)
Daily advisor: Pol Van Dorpe
Required background: Electrical engineering, Nanotechnology, biophysics
Type of work: 70% experimental, 20% modeling/simulation, 10% literature
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