SBIR Phase II: Single Molecule NanoTweezers

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Optofluidics, Inc.
3711 Market St. 8th Floor, Philadelphia, PA, 19104-0000
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Bernardo Cordovez
(215) 966-6251
Business Contact:
Bernardo Cordovez
(215) 966-6251
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project aims to develop a commercial optically-resonant nanotweezer chip and corresponding instrumentation. The nanotweezer technology, originally developed at Cornell University, uses localized optical forces to directly manipulate biological (nucleic acids & proteins) and non-biological (nanoparticles) materials as small as a few nanometers in size. Efforts will be focused on developing a commercial system which facilitates the study of single-molecule interactions, as this sector has immediate market appeal and is experiencing very high growth. At present, research into the understanding of how single molecules interact is greatly impeded by the lack of a fast and 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 product line to be developed here, consisting of optical chips which carry the core technology, as well as a driving instrument, represents a quick and cost-effective system that allows researchers to solve all three of these problems simultaneously. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be a commercially-available product that can directly manipulate extremely small biomolecules and particles, and could be transformative to scientific and industrial advancement in a number of areas including: (1) the understanding of faulty protein-protein events and other single-molecule interactions, (2) the analysis of individual nucleic acids for rapid sequencing, and (3) the directed assembly of new forms of nanomaterials for energy production. The importance of the first item (which is the target application for the initial version of this platform) is highlighted by the large number of sufferers of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, which are diseases that have been linked by protein misfolding events. 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 methods that can enable researchers to better understand these phenomena in environments closer to the physiological state. We believe that these advantages will create a significant commercial advantage over competing products.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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