A new publication “Sculpturing wafer-scale nanofluidic devices for DNA single molecule analysis” of Irene’s ERC Starting Grant Group has been published today in RSC Nanoscale.


We present micro- and nanofluidic devices with 3D structures and nanochannels with multiple depths for the analysis of single molecules of DNA. Interfacing the nanochannels with graded and 3D inlets allows the improvement of the flow and controls not only the translocation speed of the DNA but also its conformation inside the nanochannels. The complex, multilevel, multiscale fluidic circuits are patterned in a simple, two-minute imprinting step. The stamp, the key of the technology, is directly milled by focused ion beam, which allows patterning nanochannels with different cross sections and depths, together with 3D transient inlets, all at once. Having such a variety of structures integrated in the same sample allows studying, optimizing and directly comparing their effect on the DNA flow. Here, DNA translocation is studied in long (160 µm) and short (5–40 µm) nanochannels. We study the homogeneity of the stretched molecules in long, meander nanochannels made with this technology. In addition, we analyze the effect of the different types of inlet structures interfacing short nanochannels. We observe pre-stretching and an optimal flow, and no hairpin formation, when the inlets have gradually decreasing widths and depths. In contrast, when the nanochannels are faced with an abrupt transition, we observe clogging and hairpin formation. In addition, 3D inlets strongly decrease the DNA molecules’ speed before they enter the nanochannels, and help capturing more DNA molecules. The robustness and versatility of this technology and DNA testing results evidence the potential of imprinted devices in biomedical applications as low cost, disposable lab-on-a-chip devices.