The laborious, uneconomical process of sequencing DNA molecules – a technology used to identify, diagnose, and perhaps find treatments for diseases – could become much faster and cheaper thanks to a new nanofabrication technique that exploits nano-sized air-gaps, or nanocracks, in electrically conductive materials.

A doctoral student in Micro and Nanosystems at KTH, Valentin Dubois, presented the new method in his dissertation, explaining that the results offer a potential alternative to existing optical DNA sequencing processes, which depend on bulky, costly equipment. The research was done in partnership with his supervisors.

Our method can, in principle, enable the development of DNA sequencers consisting of a simple USB-connected docking station, in a size equivalent to a small smartphone, costing less than €100. And anyone could use it without any special training. Hopefully, it will be possible to determine a person’s genetic makeup in less than an hour, instead of days, as is the case nowadays. Valentin Dubois

Nanogap electrodes, essentially a pair of electrodes having a nanometer-sized gap between them, are gaining attention as scaffolds to explore, sense, or harness the smallest stable structures located in nature: molecules. In his dissertation Crack-junctions: Linking the gap between nano electronics and giga manufacturing, Valentin Dubois explains how to apply the exceptional properties of nanocracks in electrically conductive materials as a new means of forming electrode pairs possessing nanometer-wide air gaps

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