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BIOGRAPHENE Report Summary

Project ID: 335879
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Mid-Term Report Summary - BIOGRAPHENE (Sequencing biological molecules with graphene)

The ERC grant BIOGRAPHENE aims at utilizing graphene to understand biology. Particularly, the project benefits from the fact that graphene is conductive -- to design electrodes -- and atomically flat so that the electrodes could be used as molecular probes to scan and sequence biomolecules. Two major designs are aimed at: i) nanopore electrodes and ii) nano gap electrodes. Both designs come with their pros and cons and in the first scientific period of this ERC grant, my group tackled several drawbacks (published as three review papers: single molecule detection with graphene, chemistry of graphene edges, sensing with a graphene surface), some of them which now been solved:

1. We transposed the fabrication of devices from mechanically exfoliated graphene flakes (the so-called ‘scotch tape’ method) to chemically synthesized single layer graphene.
2. We daily chemically synthetize square centimeters of graphene (including single crystals).
3. We developed clean polymer-free transfer methods. In fact, polymer contaminations represent ‘unwanted’ chemical functions that alter the sensing performances of graphene devices, both in the form of nanopores, nanogaps but also more generally as field effect transistors.
4. We developed methodologies to visualize cracks in graphene
5. We fabricated nanopores capillaries of zero depth (i.e. that is nanopores thinner than graphene) and demonstrated the feasibility of DNA detection.
6. We developed methods to fabricate graphene nanogaps aligned with a single nanofluidic channel so that translocating biomolecule are probed within a nanosized region of the nanogap.
7. We identified the importance of defining the surface energy of graphene (free-standing, in the form of a nanopore, in the form of a device).

The Schneider’s group has published 9 peer-reviewed papers (five others are under review or just accepted). Separately, the group submitted five patents applications on the above mentioned research, namely: two patents on polymer free graphene transfer methods and three patents on alternative and scalable methods to fabricate and synthesize nanopores and nanogaps (made from graphene or thinner devices).

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