Here, we report on DNA electrophoresis through a novel artificial sieving matrix based on the highly regular submicrometer cylindrical glass capillary segments alternatingly arranged with wells. Such round capillaries pose a higher-order confinement resulting in a lower partition coefficient and greater entropic energy barrier while limiting the driving field strength to a small fraction of the applied electric field. In return, the separation can be performed at high average field strengths (up to 1.6 kV/cm) without encountering the field-dependent loss of resolving power. This leads to fast DNA sieving as demonstrated here on the capillaries of 750 nm in diameter. The 600 bp to 21 kbp long chains are shown to resolve within 4 min after having undergone a fairly limited number of entropic barriers (128 in total). The capillary matrix also exhibits a critical field threshold below which DNA bands fail to launch, and this occurs at a considerably greater magnitude than in other matrixes. The submicrometer capillaries are batch-fabricated on silicon through a fabrication process that does not require high-resolution advanced lithography or well-controlled wafer bonding techniques to define their critical dimension.
Cao, Zhen, Levent Yobas