Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology
project title

High resolution X-ray detectors based on nanowire arrays

funded by

Erling-Perssons stiftelse

Imagine that you would measure the average eye colour of the population in Sweden. Clearly it would not say much about the colours of the eyes of the inhabitants.

To acquire this information one must of course study them individually. The same holds true for complex biological molecules, especially proteins, which may exist in many different subpopulations that cannot be resolved in an ensemble measurement. Heterogeneities in biomolecular structure and function limit our understanding of biology and to advance further it is vital to be able to study single biomolecules. For proteins this is highly challenging since it must be done in a non-invasive manner, preferably while keeping them free in solution under physiological conditions.


The SIMONANO project (Single Molecule Analysis in Nanoscale Reaction Chambers) aims to develop new platforms for single protein analysis which provide essential advantages. Molecules will be entrapped in gated nanoscale reaction chambers, thereby eliminating the need of field gradient forces or surface immobilization. Further, the molecules can be entrapped at physiological ionic strength, pH and temperature. Most importantly, because the gates to the reaction chambers can be individually controlled and allow liquid to pass, it will be possible to lure molecules into the chambers by hydrodynamic forces. This should make it possible to not only entrap but also to mix individual molecules with each other. Advanced fluorescence microscopy will be used to detect the proteins and their reactions.


The impact of being able to study individual proteins and even protein pairs in a reliable non-invasive manner opens up for great scientific advancements in life science. Once developed and evaluated in this project, it can be envisioned how the nanoscale reaction chambers are distributed to and used by molecular biologists worldwide, which will greatly contribute to advancing our understanding of life on the molecular level. This will, in turn, lead to improved applications in biotechnology and medicine.

January 2017

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