Determination of zeta potential via nanoparticle translocation velocities through a tunable nanopore: using DNA-modified particles as an example

Nanopore technologies, known collectively as Resistive Pulse Sensors (RPS), are being used to detect, quantify and characterize proteins, molecules and nanoparticles. Tunable resistive pulse sensing (TRPS) is a relatively recent adaptation to RPS that incorporates a tunable pore that can be altered in real time. Here, we use TRPS to monitor the translocation times of DNA-modified nanoparticles as they traverse the tunable pore membrane as a function of DNA concentration and structure (i.e., single-stranded to double-stranded DNA). TRPS is based on two Ag/AgCl electrodes, separated by an elastomeric pore membrane that establishes a stable ionic current upon an applied electric field. Unlike various optical-based particle characterization technologies, TRPS can characterize individual particles amongst a sample population, allowing for multimodal samples to be analyzed with ease. Here, we demonstrate zeta potential measurements via particle translocation velocities of known standards and apply these to sample analyte translocation times, thus resulting in measuring the zeta potential of those analytes. As well as acquiring mean zeta potential values, the samples are all measured using a particle-by-particle perspective exhibiting more information on a given sample through sample population distributions, for example. Of such, this method demonstrates potential within sensing applications for both medical and environmental fields.