Graphene structureAn unusual and very exciting form of carbon that you may have created yourself, the last time you put pencil to paper, looks to hold the key to real-time, high throughput DNA sequencing, a technique that would revolutionise medical research and testing.

Using the Australian Synchrotron, Australian researchers have shown that graphene, a flat, honeycomb lattice of carbon a single atom thick, can distinguish between the four nucleobases (cytosine, guanine, adenosine and thymine) that make up DNA. Each nucleobase influences the electronic structure of graphene in a measurably different way. Used in conjunction with a nanopore that allows a single DNA molecule through, a graphene-based electrical sensor could enable real-time, high-throughput sequencing of a single DNA molecule.

Led by Dr Jiri Cervenka and Nikolai Dontschuk from the University of Melbourne, the team published their latest findings in Nature Communications in March 2015.

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