Electron Tunneling in Ferritin and Associated Biosystems

Ismael Diez Perez, Sierin Lim, Christian A. Nijhuis, Olivier Pluchery, Christopher J. Rourk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Ferritin is a 12 nanometer (nm) diameter iron storage protein complex that is found in most plants and animals. A substantial body of evidence has established that electrons can tunnel through and between ferritin protein nanoparticles and that it exhibits Coulomb blockade behavior, which is also seen in quantum dots and nanoparticles. This evidence can be used to understand the behavior of these particles for use in nanoelectronic devices, for biomedical applications and for investigation of quantum biological phenomena. Ferritin also has magnetic properties that make it useful for applications such as memristors and as a contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging. This article provides a short overview of this evidence, as well as evidence of ferritin structures in vivo and of tunneling in those structures, with an emphasis on ferritin structures in substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) neurons. Potential biomedical applications that could utilize these ferritin protein nanoparticles are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-272
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Molecular, Biological, and Multi-Scale Communications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2023


  • conductive atomic force microscopy
  • electron tunneling
  • Ferritin
  • nanoparticle
  • substantia nigra pars compacta
  • 2024 OA procedure


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