NanoInnovation Laboratory HOME

The NanoInnovation Laboratory has been established in 2003.

We use a combination of Atomic Force Microscopy and synchrotron radiation techniques to study the properties and reactions of surface confined biomolecules and of Self-Assembled Monolayers (SAM) of organic molecules often on gold surfaces. Typically, we compare in-situ the properties of one or more monolayer patches of the molecule of interest "grafted" into a SAM with a lithographical technique called nanografing.

A general applied aim is to study the way to optimize the fabrication of protein nanoarrays for the study of proteomics and of DNA nanoarrays of high sensitivity, suitable for the genetic characterization of single cells without the use of PCR. Single cell DNA analysis has many applications in medical diagnostics and in analysing the cell type distribution in the brain.

From a more fundamental point of view we aim at studying systematically the behavior of biomolecules at different well characterized densities, to glean from there how they behave under the crowded conditions that prevail typically in a cellular environment.

Research highlights

Unzipping dsDNA confined monolayers: RecQ and RecQ1 helicases

We investigated the unwinding kinetics of two helicases, E. Coli RecQ and RecQ1, in vitro, within dense dsDNA monolayers realized by means of AFM nanografting. Taking advantage of the different mechanical properties of ss and dsDNA and monitoring with high precision the changes in height due to the separation of the strands carried out by the enzyme, we measured the reaction kinetics of the two enzymes.  P. Parisse et al., JPCL 3, 3532 (2012)        

Read More

DNA Nanoarrays

AFM has been used successfully to nanograft single stranded DNA (ssDNA) in homogeneous, oriented patches on gold surfaces. The hybridization efficiency and the salt effects on nanostructures are currently investigated in our lab. Bosco et al. Nanoscale, 4, 1724, (2012) Doni et al., Nanoscale, 5, 9988 (2013) Nkoua et al. Macromolecules 47, 8748 (2014)         

Read More

AFM-based Nanoimmuno Assays

We have designed a quantitative approach to eventually enable precise and multiplexing protein analysis of very small systems, down to a single or a few cells. DNA nanoarrays were fabricated by means of AFM based nanografting and antibodies were then immobilized using DNA-directed immobilization of DNA-protein conjugates. We tested the efficiency of our assay in standard solution and in cellular lysate and we compared it with conventional ELISA assay. A.Bosco et al. Nanomedicine: NBM 11 (2015) 293         

Read More

Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy- based Biosensors

We developed an electrochemical impedance biosensor based on capacitance readout for the detection of biomolecules in small sample volumes. We demonstrated that our three-electrode setup is stable, reproducible, and suitable for real-time measurements. With this device we were able to follow in situ and in real time the process of DNA hybridization.  L. Ianeselli et al., Biosens. Bioelectronics 55 1 (2014) P.Capaldo et al. ACS Sensors in press (2016)

Read More



By construction, the laboratory is equipped with various AFM microscope systems for operation in air and liquid environment. We can perform nanolithography, conductance, surface capacitance, work function and high resolution measurements on a large variety of samples ranging from biological (dna, protein, cells, etc.) to organic (alkanethiols, acenes, etc.) and inorganic (gold, Si, mica, etc.) samples either conducting or insulating. Furthermore the laboratory is equipped with a chemical and biological sample preparation room.

The laboratory is also available to italian and foreign students who spend part of their studies at Elettra often introducing in the lab new research topics.

The laboratory team work consists of:

  • short measurements (few days) carried out as a support of other labs/beamilnes at Elettra, or at other research institutions;
  • experiments related to long-term projects lead by the internal team or related to the staging external students course of study.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 May 2016 12:32