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Label-Free Single-Molecule Thermoscopy Using a Laser-Heated Nanopore

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journal contribution
posted on 04.10.2017, 00:00 by Hirohito Yamazaki, Rui Hu, Robert Y. Henley, Justin Halman, Kirill A. Afonin, Dapeng Yu, Qing Zhao, Meni Wanunu
When light is used to excite electronic transitions in a material, nonradiative energy during relaxation is often released in the form of heat. In this work, we show that photoexcitation of a silicon nitride nanopore using a focused visible laser results in efficient localized photothermal heating, which reduces the nearby electrolyte viscosity and increases the ionic conductance. In addition, a strong localized thermal gradient in the pore vicinity is produced, evidenced by finite-element simulations and experimental observation of both ion and DNA thermophoresis. After correcting for thermophoresis, the nanopore current can be used as a nanoscale thermometer, enabling rapid force thermoscopy. We utilize this to probe thermal melting transitions in synthetic and native biomolecules that are heated at the nanopore. Our results on single molecules are validated by correspondence to bulk measurements, which paves the way to various biophysical experiments that require rapid temperature and force control on individual molecules.