4(5)-(2-mercaptoethyl)-1H-imidazole-2-carboxamide is a molecule that has multiple hydrogen bonding sites and a short flexible linker. When tethered to a pair of electrodes, it traps target molecules in a tunnel junction. Surprisingly large recognition-tunneling signals are generated for all naturally occurring DNA bases A, C, G, T and 5-methyl-cytosine. Tunnel current spikes are stochastic and broadly distributed, but characteristic enough so that individual bases can be identified as a tunneling probe is scanned over DNA oligomers. Each base yields a recognizable burst of signal, the duration of which is controlled entirely by the probe speed, down to speeds of 1nms 1, implying a maximum off-rate of 3s 1 for the recognition complex. The same measurements yield a lower bound on the on-rate of 1M 1s 1. Despite the stochastic nature of the signals, an optimized multiparameter fit allows base calling from a single signal peak with an accuracy that can exceed 80% when a single type of nucleotide is present in the junction, meaning that recognition-tunneling is capable of true single-molecule analysis. The accuracy increases to 95% when multiple spikes in a signal cluster are analyzed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering