Project area 1
Engineering of Solid-State Pores
Project area 1 develops methods to introduce nanopores in polymer films with a combination of ion track technology and chemical etching. These synthetic nanopores are subjected to different organic chemical modifications to gain sensory properties. In particular they can serve as a platform for biological nanopores with high sensitivity and selectivity. These membranes are to be integrated by Micro-Nano-Integration (MNI) technology in a lab-on-chip device.
Preparation, characterization and modification of solid-state pores through heavy ion technology
Principal Investigator: Christina Trautmann
Part of the project is based on the fabrication and modification of nanopores in polymer films. Christina Trautmann’s group (GSI / Material Science) has several years of experience in producing nanostructures with ion-track-nanotechnology. The synthetic nanopores are produced by ions of heavy elements which are shot through a polymer film. The rectilinear ion-track causes radiation damage, which is removed by a chemical etching process to obtain nanopores. This requires the UNILAC high energy ion accelerator for heavy ions at GSI. The peculiarity of the local expertise is that polymer films are irradiated to contain only a single pore. Single pores have the immense advantage that all modifications and measurements refer only to this one nanopore and thus no variability is caused by a variety of nanopores. In the polymer-based nanopore research this unique feature gives us the best possible working conditions and thus, also, a world leader position in this field.
Modified pores in polymer films for sensors and as platform for biological pores
Principal Investigator: Wolfgang Ensinger
Wolfgang Ensinger’s group (Material Science) is working in the field of synthetic polymer-based nanopores. They use foils of standard polymers such as polycarbonate (PC) and polyethylenterephthalate (PET), which are widely used in large-scale, e. g. in beverage bottles, and are therefore easily available. The nanopores are produced by ion irradiation and chemical etching in cooperation with the group of Christina Trautmann. Both cylindrical and conical nanopores can be produced in polymer foils. The nanopores surfaces contain chemically reactive groups which can be modified by coupling chemistry with functional groups, or with a functional polymer layer. These modified synthetic nanopores act as sensitive analyzer elements for matching analyte molecules.
Surface functionalization of polymer membranes with switchable polymer films for the modulation of ion transport
Principal Investigator: Markus Biesalksi
Markus Biesalksi’s group (Chemistry) has profound experience with the deposition and impregnation of functional polymers with stimuli-controlled functionality. This can be coupled with the polymer nanopores of the groups Trautmann and Ensinger. The thin polymeric films which are provided with nanoscale pores are modified with the aid of surface-bound polymer films. The latter is intended to allow the transport through the pores via customized properties of the pore walls. In long term, the use of “switchable” polymer films allows a modulated transport through nanopores (eg. by temperature, pH, electrolyte content of the solution or light).
Junior research groups
pH in confinement
Principal Investigator: Annette Andrieu-Brunsen
Annette Andrieu-Brunsen’s research group is dedicated to the functionalization of spatially confined pores with responsive polymers to control molecular transport. In this context “pH” is an important parameter to control the charge within spatial confinement and thus to control pore accessibility. Thereby, spatial confinement influences “pH” in pores. Here, we are interested in understanding the effect of spatial confinement on pore charge and “pH” in confined space by using pH-sensing dyes, fluorescence spectroscopy and in collaboration single molecule fluorescence.
Principal Investigator: Markus Gallei
Scope and aim of Markus Gallei’s group is the incorporation of redox-responsive and switchable oligomers and polymers based on metal-organic compounds into nanopores. These so-called stimuli-responsive moieties will be addressed by soft oxidation and reduction reagents or by applying an electrical current in order to change their conformation and polarity. Thus, the properties of the functionalized nanopores can be reversibly switched.