Until recently, the only reliable way to get a solid-state nanopore was to drill it with a transmission electron microscope, or a focused ion beam, or in some cases even a particle accelerator. While I’m not going to get into the details of what those are or how they work, the important point is that they are extremely expensive, and most labs can’t afford their own. Many universities can’t afford them. Even for those researchers lucky enough to have access, these tools are complicated to use, require many manual steps, are not made for this purpose, and fail more often than they succeed. Because the success rate in making useful nanopores with these tools is so low, the cost of making nanopores wasn’t just monetary, but also came at a high cost in terms of time and grad student sanity. And so nanopore research has been limited to a few well-equipped research labs, promising to one day deliver world-changing capabilities to genomics and diagnostic medicine.
This is no longer the case. At the University of Ottawa, we invented a new way to make solid-state nanopores that replaces the million-dollar, mainframe-sized equipment needed to do it with a simple and small benchtop device that is many orders of magnitude less expensive, while at the same time providing higher quality, more precise nanopores in a fraction of the time. As the personal computer took mainframe technology and made it accessible to everyone, our instruments make the cutting edge of solid-state nanopore science accessible to any budget.
This fundamentally changes the way research can be done, for the simple reason that mistakes are now affordable.
Anyone who has been in research for any length of time knows that most of the process is one of learning from mistakes, and that every successful result is built on a pile of failed ones. Thanks to our technology, picking up again from one of these learning events is no longer the bottleneck to progress. It can happen automatically while you go get lunch.
The implications of our technology go deeper than just speeding up the pace of research, however. Because nanopores are now so simple and inexpensive to acquire, you can try all the crazy ideas that you were afraid would ruin your precious nanopore, secure in the knowledge that you can always just make another one. If mistakes are affordable, then so too are creativity and innovation.
The technology that is already transforming the academic world of nanopore science is now available here. If you are interested in learning more about our product offerings, or simply want to learn about nanopores in general, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information.