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Nanofiber Structures as Mimics for Cellular Membranes

M. J. Doktycz, L. Zhang, A. V. Melechko, K. Klein, T. E. McKnight, P. F. Britt, M. A. Guillorn, V. I. Merkulov, D. H. Lowndes, M. L. Simpson
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US

Keywords: carbon nanofibers, membrane mimics, cell mimics

We are investigating the use of vertically aligned carbon nanofibers (VACNFs) as a material for controlling molecular transport in a manner analogous to natural cell membranes. VACNFs can be synthesized with nanometer scale dimensions, can be electrically addressed and can be deterministically grown in desired locations. Dense arrays of carbon nanofibers are being used as membranes that are integrated within fluidic structures. Size-dependent transport, perpendicular to the orientation of the fibers, can be controlled based on the wall-to-wall spacing of the individual fibers. Recent progress in device fabrication will be presented. Investigations into chemical derivatization of the VACNFs will also be presented. These efforts have focused on attaching biomolecules, such as DNA and proteins, to the sides of the VACNFs. The combination of size fractionation and chemically specificity can allow such membranes to perform as “sensors” by selectively transporting analytes. Integrating electrically addressable VACNFs adds another dimension to controlled transport as well as conventional electrochemically based sensing. The biologically inspired design of VACNF structures will be useful for performing chemical separations and for mimicking the properties of natural membranes.

NSTI Nanotech 2003 Conference Technical Program Abstract

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