Surface modification of graphene nanopores for protein translocation

Nanotechnology. 2013 Dec 13;24(49):495102. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/24/49/495102. Epub 2013 Nov 14.


Studies of DNA translocation through graphene nanopores have revealed their potential for DNA sequencing. Here we report a study of protein translocation through chemically modified graphene nanopores. A transmission electron microscope (TEM) was used to cut nanopores with diameters between 5 and 20 nm in multilayer graphene prepared by chemical vapor deposition (CVD). After oxygen plasma treatment, the dependence of the measured ionic current on salt concentration and pH was consistent with a small surface charge induced by the formation of carboxyl groups. While translocation of gold nanoparticles (10 nm) was readily detected through such treated pores of a larger diameter, translocation of the protein ferritin was not observed either for oxygen plasma treated pores, or for pores modified with mercaptohexadecanoic acid. Ferritin translocation events were reliably observed after the pores were modified with the phospholipid-PEG (DPPE-PEG750) amphiphile. The ion current signature of translocation events was complex, suggesting that a series of interactions between the protein and pores occurs during the process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Ferritins / chemistry
  • Gold / chemistry
  • Graphite / chemistry*
  • Horses
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Nanopores*
  • Oxygen / chemistry
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines / chemistry
  • Phospholipids / chemistry
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry
  • Protein Transport*
  • Salts / chemistry
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / chemistry
  • Surface Properties


  • DPPE-PEG2000
  • Phosphatidylethanolamines
  • Phospholipids
  • Salts
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Gold
  • Graphite
  • Ferritins
  • Oxygen