BioNano-Switch: A Biological Nanoactuator as a Molecular Switch for Biosensing

Duration: 36 months Project Coordinator: University of Portsmouth (United Kingdom) Contact Person:

Dr. Keith Firman
University of Porthmourth
School of Biomedical Sciences
King Henry Building, King Henry I Street
P01 2DY Porthmourth, United Kingdom
e-mail: keith.firman[at]
tel:+44 23 92 84 20 36
fax: +44 23 92 84 20 70


  • National Physical Laboratory (United Kingdom)
  • Ecole Normale Supérieure (France)
  • Technology University of Delft (The Netherlands)
  • IMIC (Czech Republic)
  • EMPA (Switzerland)
  • INESC-MN (Portugal)

Project Description:

BioNano-Switch seeks to provide Europe with a major time advantage over their main international competitors by developing a bionanotechnological device that can be used as a nanoactuator/biosensor, which also provides a novel interface between the Biological and Silicon Worlds. The time advantage is provided by “picking up” the highly successful Mol Switch Project (IST-2001-38036), in which it has been able to show that biological molecular motors could be used as bio-nanoactuators. However, this project will push the frontiers of knowledge and skill by developing a useful generic biosensor/nanoactuator device. The device will be assembled in a series of stages using independent Modules that each incorporate new technology, or, expand the frontiers of existing technology. A prototype integrated biosensor will be built around this nanoactuator, incorporating the proposed Modules. The switching device within this nanoactuator is provided by a moving magnetic particle, attached to the DNA that is translocated (or ‘pulled’) by the motor, and a suitable electronic sensor that detects this movement. Integration of these individual components into a single Module will provide a major step forward in the design of Lab-on-a-Chip technology. Therefore, BioNano-Switch will seek to develop a microfluidics system that will allow to incorporate the electronic sensor into a chip-based device. The project will also focus on the precise location and self-assembly of these motors and their DNA substrates within the microfluidics system to be used. The project will involve partners who will focus on the further development of the electronic sensor. 

(source: Cordis Nest Pathfinder projects 2003-2006)