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Nanotechnology. 2010 Jan 8;21(1):015304. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/21/1/015304. Epub 2009 Nov 30.

Small diameter carbon nanopipettes.

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1
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, A J Drexel Nanotechnology Institute, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

Abstract

Nanoscale multifunctional carbon probes facilitate cellular studies due to their small size, which makes it possible to interrogate organelles within living cells in a minimally invasive fashion. However, connecting nanotubes to macroscopic devices and constructing an integrated system for the purpose of fluid and electrical signal transfer is challenging, as is often the case with nanoscale components. We describe a non-catalytic chemical vapor deposition based method for batch fabrication of integrated multifunctional carbon nanopipettes (CNPs) with tip diameters much smaller (10-30 nm) than previously reported (200 nm and above) and approaching those observed for multiwalled carbon nanotubes. This eliminates the need for complicated attachment/assembly of nanotubes into nanofluidic devices. Variable tip geometries and structures were obtained by controlled deposition of carbon inside and outside quartz pipettes. We have shown that the capillary length and gas flow rate have a marked effect on the carbon deposition. This gives us a flexible protocol, useful for growing carbon layers of different thicknesses at selective locations on a glass pipette to yield a large variety of cellular probes in bulk quantities. The CNPs possess an open channel for fluid transfer with the carbon deposited inside at 875 degrees C behaving like an amorphous semiconductor. Vacuum annealing of the CNP tips at temperatures up to 2000 degrees C yields graphitic carbon structures with an increase in conductivity of two orders of magnitude. Penetration of the integrated carbon nanoprobes into cells was shown to produce minimal Ca(2+) signals, fast recovery of basal Ca(2+) levels and no adverse activation of the cellular metabolism during interrogation times as long as 0.5-1 h.

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