Extracting the Shape and Size of Biomolecules Attached to a Surface as Suspended Discrete Nanoparticles

The ability to derive information on the conformation of surface attached biomolecules by using simple techniques such as biosensors is currently considered of great importance in the fields of surface science and nanotechnology. Here we present a nanoshape sensitive biosensor where a simple mathematical expression is used to relate acoustic measurements to the geometrical features of a surface-attached biomolecule. The underlying scientific principle is that the acoustic ratio (Δ<i>D</i>/Δ<i>F</i>) is a measure of the hydrodynamic volume of the attached entity, mathematically expressed by its intrinsic viscosity [η]. A methodology is presented in order to produce surfaces with discretely bound biomolecules where their native conformation is maintained. Using DNA anchors we attached a spherical protein (streptavidin) and a rod-shaped DNA (47bp) to a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) device in a suspended way and predicted correctly through acoustic measurements their conformation, i.e., shape and length. The methodology can be widely applied to draw conclusions on the conformation of any biomolecule or nanoentity upon specific binding on the surface of an acoustic wave device.