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Leburton's new patent set to revolutionize personal and nanomedicine, advance information technology for big data processing and storage

7/19/2020

Ryann Monahan, Illinois ECE

Jean-Pierre Leburton
Jean-Pierre Leburton

A new Illinois ECE discovery is set to revolutionize personal and nanomedicine, as well as advance information technology for big data processing and storage.  Illinois ECE Professor Jean-Pierre Leburton was recently awarded a patent for his discovery that establishes a new model for biosensing individual molecules.

It’s a nanoscale field-effect transistor with constricted geometry that senses DNA or proteins by threading them through a nanopore in an electrically active membrane. The membrane is made of sub-nanometer thin two-dimensional (2D) materials such as graphene or transition metal dichalcogenide.

Leburton’s versatile technology empowers a broad range of technical capabilities such as efficient and cheap mapping of human genomes, as well as for epigenetic diagnostics in cancer research and virology. 

Additionally, its ability to process and encode big data in a long strand of DNA molecules is compatible with semiconductor nanotechnology when it comes to advancing information technology.

Leburton's patent for biosensing individual molecules holds strong implications for nanomedicine. 
Leburton's patent for biosensing individual molecules holds strong implications for nanomedicine. 

“Rapidly sequencing the human genome in a cost-effective manner will revolutionize modern medicine.  This innovation also reveals how the electrical sensitivity of the 2D layer can be easily tuned by both shaping its geometry and modulating its conductance through an electric gate integrated in the membrane,” Leburton said.

The new design consists of assembling 2D materials within a multi-layer membrane consisting of several electrodes to achieve electronic tunability and control of the biosensing measurements. The work supported by a comprehensive self-consistent approach combining electronic device modeling for calculating the electronic conductance in the transistor with the electrical influences of solvent, ions, and molecular charges in the nanopore. As such it goes beyond the previous analysis of transport in 2D solid-state nanoribbons.

The invention merges scientific concepts taken from solid-state electronics with life science offering tremendous benefits for device and system functionality stemming from both fields of science.

“It is the result of a combination of concepts emerging from two very fertile fields of technology at the opposite sides of the scientific spectrum i.e. integrated semiconductor nanoelectronics and biomolecular medicine, both rewarded by many Nobel prizes over the years, which will impact numerous aspects of human activities,” Leburton explained.

While Leburton’s new innovation sets the stage for advances in information technology for big data processing and storage, he insists there is much to discover and invent in crossing traditional barriers separating scientific disciplines as dissimilar as nanoelectronics and molecular biology.

This new research was supported with funding from NSF, Beckman Institute Seed Grant, Oxford Nanopore Technology.

Patent #  10,677,752

Leburton is now affiliated with the Nick Holonyak Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.