Introducing graphene into microfluidic devices can make it easier to study proteins at an atomic level, scientists in the US have shown. Devices that are thinner and interfere less with the measurements allow larger and more intricate protein structures to be resolved using techniques that rely on probing thousands of microcrystals.
Not only does this reduce the device’s thickness, improving the signal-to-noise ratio, the graphene also acts as a barrier to prevent the sample evaporating. John Helliwell, an expert in crystallography at the University of Manchester in the UK, explains that preventing water loss from the crystal is ‘vital…because the sample hydration state needs to be preserved for its molecular integrity’.
Perry’s group are now focusing on shrinking down the dimensions and increasing the complexity of the device, as well as studying the structure of proteins involved in programmed cell death.
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Graphene-based microfluidics for serial crystallography
Shuo Sui, Yuxi Wang, Kristopher W. Kolewe, Vukica Srajer, Robert Henning, Jessica D. Schiffman, Christos Dimitrakopoulos and Sarah L. Perry
Lab Chip, 2016, Advance Article
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