Orthogonal Tip-to-Tip Nanocapillary Alignment Allows for Easy Detection of Fluorescent Emitters in Femtomolar Concentrations

Here we present the realization of a novel fluorescence detection method based on the electromigration of fluorescent molecules within a nanocapillary combined with the laser excitation through a platinum (Pt)-coated nanocapillary. By using the Pt nanocapillary assisted focusing of a laser beam, we completely remove the background scattering on the tip of the electrophoretic nanocapillary. In this excitation geometry, we demonstrate a 1000-fold sensitivity enhancement (1.0 nM to 1.0 pM) compared to the detection in microcapillaries with epifluorescence illumination and fluorescence spectrophotometry. Due to a significant electroosmotic flow, we observe a decelerating migration of DNA molecules close to the tip of the electrophoretic nanocapillary. The reduced DNA translocation velocity causes a two-step stacking process of molecules in the tip of the nanocapillary and can be used as a way to locally concentrate molecules. The sensitivity of our method is further improved by a continuous electrokinetic injection of DNA molecules followed by sample zone stacking on the tip of the nanocapillary. Concentrations ranging from 0.1 pM to 1.0 fM can be directly observed on the orifice of the electrophoretic nanocapillary. This is a 1000-fold improvement compared to traditional capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence.

Published in:
Nano Letters, 18, 5, 3165-3171
Apr 04 2018
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 Record created 2018-05-14, last modified 2020-04-20

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