Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Caltech Team Weighs Individual Molecules
Scientists at Pasadena-based California Insitute of Technology said yesterday that they have created nanodevices capable of weighing individual biological molecules. The scientists said that the breakthrough technology may lead to new forms of molecular identification that are faster and cheaper than existing methods, and help advance new instruments for the field of proteomics. Dr. Michael Roukes, head of Caltech's Kavli Nanoscience Insitute said that the group's research shows the immense potential of nanotechnology for creating transformational new instrumentation for the medical and life sciences. The Caltech scientists have developed "nanoelectromechanical resonators" which use nanotechnology to measure the effect of individual molecules on the vibration of the nanoscale structures, which is then used to calculate the weight of the molecules. The scientists are hoping that their new technique can be applied to the area of miniaturizing mass spectrometers, the devices currently used to identify molecules based on their weight.