Nanofluidic networks based on surfactant membrane technology
Journal article, 2003
We explore possibilities to construct nanoscale analytical devices based on lipid membrane technology. As a step toward this goal, we present nanotube-vesicle networks with fluidic control, where the nanotube segments reside at, or very close (<2 microm) to optically transparent surfaces. These nanofluidic systems allow controlled transport as well as LIF detection of single nanoparticles. In the weak-adhesion regime, immobilized vesicles can be approximated as perfect spheres with nanotubes attached at half the height of the vesicle in the axial (z) dimension. In the strong-adhesion regime (relative contact area, Sr* approximately 0.3), nanotubes can be adsorbed to the surface with a distance to the interior of the nanotubes defined by the membrane thickness of approximately 5 nm. Strong surface adsorption restricts nanotube self-organization, enabling networks of nanotubes with arbitrary geometries. We demonstrate LIF detection of single nanoparticles (30-nm-diameter fluorescent beads) inside single nanotubes. Transport of nanoparticles was induced by a surface tension differential applied across nanotubes using a hydrodynamic injection protocol. Controlled transport in nanotubes together with LIF detection enables construction of nanoscale fluidic devices with potential to operate with single molecules. This opens up possibilities to construct analytical platforms with characteristic length scales and volume orders of magnitudes smaller than employed in traditional microfluidic devices.