Nanoelectrode and Nanofluidic Based Assays of Ion Channels, Mitochondria Membrane Potential, and Apoptosis

McDonnell Douglas Engineering Auditorium

ChEMS Seminar

Professor Peter Burke 

Department of Electrical and Engineering and Computer Science

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

University of California, Irvine



In this talk we will present our recent work on combining nanotechnology, electrophysiology, metabolomics, and cancer research. These concepts all converge in the interrogation mitochondria, organelles that traditionally have been associated only with the production of ATP from pyruvate. Recent studies have shown they have a critical role in calcium signaling and regulation, as well as regulation of cell death.  In our first series of experiments, we use nanochannels to trap and interrogate optically the response of individual mitochondria isolated from cells to various chemical environments, including substrates and inhibitors of the electron transport chain as well as calcium induced depolarization of the membrane potential, the point of no return in apoptosis. In the second part of the talk, we focus on recent experiments based on our long-standing interest in purified semiconducting nanotube networks for electronics. By exposing lipid bilayers to the nanotube network, we can electrically detect the opening and closing of individual ion channels: when one ion channel opens, it causes a flood of ion current which gates one of the nanotubes in the network on or off, which can be measured electrically. This represents the holy grail of nano-electrophysiology, and can be applied to a variety of metabolic studies where membrane voltages and currents are critical for the processing of energy and information. Our ultimate goal is to develop techniques to measure each individual electron one by one as it passes down the electron transport chain.


Professor Burke received his PhD from Yale University in 1998.  He joined UCI since 2001, is currently a Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science