A Single-walled Carbon Nanotube array/chitosan Hydrogel Array for Label-free Optical Detection of Protein-protein Interactions

Technology #14201

Questions about this technology? Ask a Technology Manager

Download Printable PDF

Image Gallery
Schematic of a label-free protein array based upon fluorescent single-walled carbon nanotubes.
Professor Michael Strano
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
External Link (srg.mit.edu)
Jong Ho Kim
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Paul Barone
The Center For Biomedical Innovation, MIT
External Link (cbi.mit.edu)
Jin Ho Ahn
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Nigel Reuel
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Managed By
Jon Gilbert
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Nanotube Array for Optical Detection of Protein-Protein Interactions

US Patent Pending US 2012-0178640
Label-Free, Single Protein Detection on a Near-Infrared Fluorescent Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube/Protein Microarray Fabricated by Cell-Free Synthesis
Nano Letters, 2011, 11 (7), pp 2743–2752


  • Drug discovery, clinical protein detection, disease marker detection
Problem Addressed This current invention provides a method for a label-free protein microarray using single-walled carbon nanotubes.


Protein microarrays are a developing technology that shows significant promise for drug development and protein detection applications. However, current protein microarrays suffer from a variety of drawbacks, such as relying on the use of antibodies for protein capture, requiring the use of a label or tag and limited amounts of purified proteins. The current invention details the fabrication of a label-free protein-protein microarray that uses single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) photoluminescence to transduce protein binding. Proteins are produced in situ via cell-free synthesis and directly immobilized on the SWNT/chitosan array, eliminating purification steps required by other techniques. Furthermore, protein-protein interactions are detected in a label-free manner. This invention uses a SWNT/chitosan microarray that optically reports binding of an analyte protein to the capture protein docked to the nickel complex wrapping the nanotube. This arrangement enables resolution of single protein binding events, the lowest detection limit of any protein array demonstrated to date. This invention holds promise in areas of drug discovery as well as biomarker, clinical protein, and disease marker detection.


  • Does not require labeling of the target analyte protein, which can perturb protein-protein interactions of interest
  • Suitable for any protein-protein interactions, not just antigen-antibody pairs
  • Capability to detect single protein binding events
  • Real-time detection
  • High-throughput detection of protein-protein interactions
  • Eliminates protein preparation and purification since synthesis is done directly on the array; thus it is simple and cheap