Improving sequencing by tunneling with multiplexing and cross-correlations – P. Boynton, A. V. Balatsky, I. K. Schuller, M. Di Ventra (2014)


Sequencing by tunneling is a next-generation approach to read single-base information using electronic tunneling transverse to the single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) backbone while the latter is translocated through a narrow channel. The original idea considered a single pair of electrodes to read out the current and distinguish the bases [1, 2]. Here, we propose an improvement to the original sequencing by tunneling method, in which 𝑁 pairs of electrodes are built in series along a synthetic nanochannel. While the ssDNA is forced through the channel using a longitudinal field it passes by each pair of electrodes for long enough time to gather a minimum of 𝑚 tunneling current measurements, where 𝑚 is determined by the level of sequencing error desired. Each current time series for each nucleobase is then cross-correlated together, from which the DNA bases can be distinguished. We show using random sampling of data from classical molecular dynamics, that indeed the sequencing error is significantly reduced as the number of pairs of electrodes, 𝑁, increases. Compared to the sequencing ability of a single pair of electrodes, cross-correlating 𝑁 pairs of electrodes exponentially improves this sequencing ability due to the approximate log-normal nature of the tunneling current probability distributions. We have also used the Fenton–Wilkinson approximation to analytically describe the mean and variance of the cross-correlations that are used to distinguish the DNA bases. The method we suggest is particularly useful when the measurement bandwidth is limited, allowing a smaller electrode gap residence time while still promising to consistently identify the DNA bases correctly.


Journal of Computational Electronics volume