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Metrology for Advanced Bioelectronics


We are developing electronic chip-based technology for DNA and protein analysis for industry. This research will help revolutionize health care, emergency rooms and personalized medicine. 


The measurement capabilities for quantitative medicine are relatively primitive, and this metrology paucity is proving costly in terms of lives lost needlessly and burgeoning medical expenses. Our project is helping to develop modern, key measurement methods for Health Care & other fields. Addressing these unmet measurement issues is critically important to all members of society.

Electronic DNA Sequencing

We demonstrated that an electric field can drive individual molecules of single-stranded DNA through a nanoscale pore in a linear fashion. We suggested that the method could be used to read each base of the DNA in ticker-tapelike fashion. There has been intense worldwide interest in this field of research that was pioneered at NIST. Several companies (IBM, Oxford Nanopore, Electronic BioSciences, and Genia) are developing DNA sequencing devices based on our technology.

Single Molecule Mass Spectrometry

We also demonstrated that the physical properties (i.e., mass and charge) of single molecules can be determined by measuring the degree by which they interrupt the flow of ions through a single nanometer-scale pore. The technique should lead to chip-based mass spectrometers that are capable of identifying proteins, other biological molecules, and synthetic polymers.

Electronic Devices for Health Care

Spiraling health care costs are a serious threat to the U.S. economy and to each of us. We are developing the technology for the next generation devices to address this issue. We will revolutionize DNA & RNA sequencing and protein analysis. The technology we are developing has the potential to positively impact the early detection of cancer and monitor disease treatment in individuals (a capability that requires electronics and systems integration).


Major Accomplishments:

  • Demonstrated experimental support for polymerase/nanopore based DNA sequencing
  • Developed a theory for exonuclease/nanopore-based DNA sequencing
  • Developed a theory for sequencing DNA in long nanopore
  • Demonstrated the ability to rapidly heat single molecules for thermodynamic and kinetic analysis
  • Provided experimental and theoretical basis for determining the size of single molecules
  • Devised a critical test for late stage infection by anthrax toxins
  • Developed a physical method for absolute state identification of molecules in a single nanopore.

Lead Organizational Unit:


Source of Extramural Funding:

NIH, NSF, NIST Office of Law Enforcement Standards


John J. Kasianowicz, Leader
Joseph W.F. Robertson
Arvind Balijepalli
Jessica Benjamini (EMBO post-doc)
Jacob Forstater (post-doc)

Single molecule mass Spectrometry (Image courtesy of Jeffrey Aarons)

(Image courtesy of Jeffrey Aarons)


John Kasianowicz

Joseph Robertson

Arvind Balijepalli

100 Bureau Drive, M/S 8120
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8120