SBIR Phase I: Single Molecule NanoTweezers

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Award Id:
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
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Small Business Information
3711 Market Street, 8th Floor, Philadelphia, PA, 19104-5533
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
David Erickson
(607) 272-2617
Business Contact:
David Erickson
(607) 272-2617
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project aims to develop a commercial optically resonant nanotweezer chip. The nanotweezer technology, originally developed at Cornell University, uses photonic resonance to localize optical forces so they can be used to directly manipulate biological (nucleic acids & proteins) and non-biological (nanoparticles) materials as small as a few nanometers in size. It has recently been used to demonstrate the manipulation of the smallest dielectric matter ever, as well as individual strands of DNA. We will focus our efforts on developing a commercial system which facilitates the study of the single molecule interactions, as this has the most immediate market appeal. At present, research into the understanding of how single molecules interact is greatly impeded by the lack of a simple technique which can: (1) capture and suspend small molecules in free solution for an indefinite period of time (2) effectively "concentrate" the set of molecules of interest to a point where protein-protein or other multi-molecule interactions can be studied and (3) allow rapid modulation of the external environmental conditions. The nanotweezer system to be developed here has the potential to solve all three of these problems simultaneously. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is that it will result in a commercially available product that can directly manipulate extremely small particles and molecules, and could be transformative to scientific and industrial advancement in a number of areas including: (1) the analysis of individual nucleic acids for rapid sequencing and direct haplotyping, (2) the directed assembly of new forms of nanomaterials for energy production, and (3) the understanding of faulty protein-protein events and other single molecule interactions. The importance of the latter of these (which is the target application for the initial version of this chip) is highlighted by the large number of diseases that have been linked to such events, in particular neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's. The development of tools that can facilitate experimental studies of how single biomolecules and small aggregates interact can reveal information about the fundamental molecular processes that lead to these deficiencies. The nanotweezer technology has a series of key advantages over existing commercial technologies that can enable researchers to better understand these phenomena in environments closer to the physiological state. We believe that these advantages will give us a significant commercial advantage over competing products.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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