”How to catch a cold” – Nanofluidic chips for trapping of biological nanoparticles 

Is it possible to hold a single virus in place? Can you look at single exosomes for a long time? Nanofluidic chips allow to confine nano-sized particles in space for improved observation of these. Team members of the Nanoscopy group at UiT The Arctic University of Norway produce nanofluidic chips, which are capable of capturing sub-100nm sized particles in so called “nanotraps” adjacent to nanochannels. 

Microscopy image credit: O. Vanderpoorten, Ali N. Babar

Exosomes are small spherical objects circulating in the human blood stream. They allow cell-to-cell communication within the human body and their content carries lots of biological information about their origin, function and destination. 

They have high potential as early indicators of cancer development in the human body as well as of neurodegenerative diseases and we therefore seek for methods to capture and analyse their content 1. Methods to do so without permanent surface immobilization (e.g. entropic trapping)2 are not common but would allow tremendous new possibilities to study these. 

Team members of the Nanoscopy group at UiT (Tromsø) produce nanofluidic chips, which are capable of capturing sub-100nm sized particles in so called “nanotraps” adjacent to nanochannels.(See Fig.) Nanotraps allow an increased residence time of nano-sized objects - e.g. nanoparticles, colloids, exosomes, viruses - in a precise location and increase experimental observation of these hard to capture and rapidly-moving specimen. The research team uses 2-photon lithography combined with conventional UV-lithography to produce these chips in a fast and flexible manner3.

  1. R. Kalluri and V. S. LeBleu, “The biology function and biomedical applications of exosomes,” Science (80-. )., vol. 367, no. 6478, Feb. 2020.
  2. F. Ruggeri, “Single-molecule electrometry,” Nat. Nanotechnol., vol. 12, 2017.
  3. O. Vanderpoorten et al., “Scalable integration of nano-, and microfluidics with hybrid two-photon lithography,” Microsystems Nanoeng., vol. 5, no. 1, 2019.

Note: This work was conducted at Cambridge with Oliver Vanderpoorten as a lead author before he joined the nanoscopy group at UiT recently. At UiT his activity is linked to a project funded by the Research Council of Norway, but he will contribute with his unique expertise to the entire nanoscopy group which is the host of the nanoRIP project, and his work will eventually be useful to nanoRIP as well.

By Oliver Vanderpoorten
Published Apr. 27, 2021 8:51 AM - Last modified Apr. 27, 2021 8:51 AM