Label-Free Optical Detection of DNA Translocations through Plasmonic Nanopores

Daniel V. Verschueren, Sergii Pud, Xin Shi, Lorenzo De Angelis, L. Kuipers, Cees Dekker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


Solid-state nanopores are single-molecule sensors that hold great potential for rapid protein and nucleic-acid analysis. Despite their many opportunities, the conventional ionic current detection scheme that is at the heart of the sensor suffers inherent limitations. This scheme intrinsically couples signal strength to the driving voltage, requires the use of high-concentration electrolytes, suffers from capacitive noise, and impairs high-density sensor integration. Here, we propose a fundamentally different detection scheme based on the enhanced light transmission through a plasmonic nanopore. We demonstrate that translocations of single DNA molecules can be optically detected, without the need of any labeling, in the transmitted light intensity through an inverted-bowtie plasmonic nanopore. Characterization and the cross-correlation of the optical signals with their electrical counterparts verify the plasmonic basis of the optical signal. We demonstrate DNA translocation event detection in a regime of driving voltages and buffer conditions where traditional ionic current sensing fails. This label-free optical detection scheme offers opportunities to probe native DNA-protein interactions at physiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalACS nano
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA translocation
  • Optical transmission
  • Plasmon resonance sensing
  • Plasmonic nanopores
  • Solid-state nanopores


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