News

Word around the campfire.

October 2017

Each year, the Nano/Bio Interface Center highlights nanotechnology across Penn. High school classes, undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs and faculty participate in exhibits, demonstrations, tours, posters and talks. Find out more at NanoDay@Penn.



July 2017

Prof. Drndić gave a lecture to high school students participating at the Penn Summer Science Academy who joined Penn this summer from many different countries.

June 2017

June 2017

The Drndić lab welcomes new undergraduate students Nikhil Chari, Abby Kaplan, Seyoung Kim, Reginald Lamaute, and Lee Blackburn.

May 2017

Prof. Drndić gave a plenary talk at the EIPBN 2017 entitled “2D Materials Nanosculpting in the Transmission Electron Microscope and Bioelectronics Applications” and an invited presentation at the Women in Nanofabrication (WIN) Luncheon Event at the same conference, sharing her own career path and lessons learned along the way.


May 2017

Congratulations to Sarah Friedensen who received the 2017 NSF Graduate Fellowship. Sarah’s work includes electronics transport in topological and two-dimensional materials in the Drndic lab. At the 2017 APS March Meeting in New Orleans she gave a talk on “Electron-beam nanosculpting and materials analysis of exfoliated bismuth selenide”.

March 2017

Penn Physics alum Jessamyn Fairfield has written a feature for the March 2017 issue of Physics World about neuromorphic electronics, novel devices whose function mimics synaptic function. Neuromorphic features can be realized in a variety of materials, from nanomaterials to polymers, and may enable the development of electronic skin, novel computational paradigms, or smart neuroprosthetics. Jessamyn is currently a professor at NUI Galway in Ireland, and did her PhD research in the Drndic lab on semiconducting nanocrystal optoelectronics.

Full text of the article is available here: http://jessamynfairfield.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/PWMar17Fairfield.pdf

March 2017

Drndic and Johnson’s labs, together with researchers from Penn State, use light to control the size of two dimensional tungsten disulfide nanopores. Read more in the article in PennCurrent.


February 2017

February 2017

At this year’s Philly Materials Day hosted by Drexel University, the lab showcased a variety of demos to the general public. Students and parents alike were first shown the process of isolating thin 2D materials such as graphene via mechanical exfoliation. They were then able to see the principles behind 2D-material-based water desalination using interactive large-scale models of filtration devices.



December 2016

Graduate students Paul Masih Das, Francis Chien, Jothi Priyanka Thiruraman, and Gopinath Danda participated in the Early Access to Graduate Research workshop series at the nearby Franklin Institute. They spent the afternoon teaching high school students from the Science Leadership Academy about the history, structure, and function of DNA. The students also learned about various 2D materials and how they can be used in nanopore DNA sequencing.


December 2016


Prof. Drndic gave a physics talk to about two hundred curious fifth graders in the Masterman Middle & High School. She talked about subfields of physics, how to become a physicists, and covered topics in kinematics (mass, velocity, force, energy, work) as well as example of motion in two dimensions, pendula, motion in two dimensions, momentum, collisions, motion on the inclined plane, as well as explained the origin behind gravitational acceleration. She also showed mechanics demos.

December 2016

Tue 12/6/2016 2-3pm Singh 221

Jessamyn Fairfield, NUI Galway, Hosted by Prof. Marija Drndic

Jessamyn organized creative and effective education and public engagement initiatives for the AMBER materials research centre at Trinity College Dublin. Her most successful project has been the development of Bright Club Dublin, a monthly research/comedy variety night featuring academics alongside comedians in a night of idea-driven entertainment. Jessamyn is also a frequent contributor to Futureproof, the Newstalk science show.

December 2016

Mon, 12/5/2016 12-1pm Singh035

Jessamyn Fairfield, NUI Galway, Hosted by Marija Drndic

Imagine a world where materials can heal themselves and electronics are built to learn the way your brain does, all using wires tinier than a human hair.
My research lab at NUI Galway is focused on taking that world from science fiction to science fact! We take materials that are very small, or nanoscale, in one dimension, spray them onto a variety of surfaces, and try to make circuitry from them. Networks of nanowires are memristive, which means that their electronic behavior depends on their measurement history.

We use metal nanowires that can be sprayed onto a variety of surfaces to create random networks. Light or electricity can change these networks of nanowires in useful ways. Where two nanowires cross to form a junction, light or electricity can change the strength of the junction. These individual changes change the overall behaviour of the network. The changes are self-healing, so electrical currents can route around damaged sections of network. The network also becomes ‘smarter’ controlled changes create new meaningful patterns of response to particular complex stimuli. When they are built, traditional silicon architectures for computing have fixed structure and implicit fixed digital modes of computation. Nanowire networks can create flexible computational modes that can adapt on the fly, which makes nanowire networks more like brains than like silicon chips.

*light lunch will be provided

September 2016

July 2016

Graduate student Paul Masih Das gave a talk to 8th grade students at West Philadelphia’s Comegys Middle School about the ins and outs of DNA extraction and sequencing. Afterwards, students performed a fun activity in which they extracted the DNA from strawberries using simple household products such as soap, salt, and ethanol.


July 2016

This July, Prof. Drndic gave a research presentation to high school students from the Penn Summer Science Academy (PSSA). Roughly 40 students went on a tour of our lab, in coordination with Bill Berner, where they learned about the process of fabricating and testing a solid-state nanopore. They also learned about the wide variety of techniques and instrumentation that we use: chemical vapor deposition, photolithography, electron beam nanosculpting, and DNA translocation experiments. More information about the Academy can be found here: http://www.physics.upenn.edu/~pssa/.

June 2016

June 2016

This award is provided from an endowment established by the family, friends, and colleagues of Arnold M. Denenstein to honor his memory and his contributions to science. Awarded annually to a graduate student, judged by the Physics and Astronomy Department, who shows the most promise of becoming and outstanding experimental physicist.

June 2016

Congratulations to professor Marija Drndić on being named the Fay R. and Eugene L. Langberg Professor of Physics.

May 2016

Our joint research with collaborators from MIT, Tohoku University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, published in Nano Letters, was featured in a IEEE Spectrum article. Read the paper here and the article here.


May 2016


Graduate students Hannah Hughes received the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and Paul Masih Das received the NSF Honorable Mention.

Rebecca Engelke and Bart Machielse, who did their undergraduate research and authored several papers while in our lab, have also received the 2016 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship 2016. We wish them a great time during their PhD years at Harvard Physics, and we are looking forward to following their new scientific results!

April 2016


The Drndic group, Science Outreach Initiative of the School of Arts and Sciences, and Project BioEyes from University of Pennsylvania demonstrated how DNA affects physical features in living organisms, like zebrafish, and the importance of DNA sequencing in an educational exhibit at Philadelphia Science Festival on Saturday April 30 2016 as a part of National DNA Day initiative. Children from all age groups visited the booth, which was aptly titled “What Can Fish Tell Us About DNA?”, and learned about how a small change in DNA sequence can create two different types of zebrafish - wildtype and albino - and how nanopore sequencing technology can help us find these differences easily.

Microscopes were installed in the booth to observe the physical differences between the two types of zebrafish larvae and adult, following which the visitor was handed an index card with a fish scale printed on one side and a colored DNA code on the other. These cards could then be inserted into punched envelopes revealing a specific color code, very similar to how nanopore DNA sequencing technology works. The color codes could be matched up to a map aiding in classification of the fish scale into the two types of fishes. A “DNA inside a nanopore” bracelet were also given to every visitor, which consisted of a colored strip of paper inside a rectangular movable sleeve with a hole in the middle.

The booth was managed by the volunteers from both the participating groups from 10 am to 4 pm at Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia. This exhibit was one of the two demonstrations which Drndic group participated in during the Philadelphia Science Festival, the other being “Nanopore Explorin’” on the previous Sunday, April 24 2016 in the Singh Nanotechnology Center, Philadelphia.

April 2016

April 2016

Prof. Drndic gave a plenary talk and participated in a panel discussion at the international symposium on “Incredibly smart, efficient and compact devices by insect technology” in Nagoya, Japan on April 26-27, 2016.

April 2016

Drndić lab participate at two Philadelphia Science Festival events on April 24 and April 30, 2016.



The Drndic Lab has partnered with Dr. Slavko Milekic at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts to create two educational tools for this year’s Philadelphia Science Festival. The first “scanimation” uses an artistic technique known as persistence of vision to give the illusion of a fish swimming through an array of nanopores. The other is a cartoon-based game in which the user must guess the weight of characters in an elevator, effectively modeling nanopore DNA sequencing. Both tools are presented on portable tablet devices and suitable for a wide range of audiences.


Fish Scanimation
DNA Sequencing Elevator


Also, the Drndic Lab has developed a virtual nanopore app. Developed for Google Cardboard, the user can experience the actual translocation of a DNA strand through a nanopore in a stunning virtual reality environment.


Virtual Nanopore

March 2016

March 2016

Graduate student Sarah Friedensen wins the Ella N. Pawling 2015-2016 Award.

Congratulations to Sarah Friedensen for being named the Ella N. Pawling 2015-2016 Fellow by the School of Arts and Sciences to support her academic pursuits.

March 2016

Graduate students Francis Chien Chen-Chi, Gopinath Danda, and Paul Masih Das are leading our group’s outreach effort at the Philadelphia Science Carnival, to be held on April 30th, 2016. This is also part of the National DNA Day.

We are collaborating with the BioEYES, a partnership to advance K-12 science education. We will present an integrated research exhibit spanning a range of topics related to DNA and genomics research. We will discuss how the eye color in zebrafish is related to DNA and DNA sequencing.

We know that DNA is what genes are made up of, and that genes are responsible for the way we look and the traits we have. Fish are an excellent animal model that allows us to visually study how the trait of dark pigmentation vs. albinism gets passed down from parents to offspring. The title of this collaborative exhibit will be “What can a fish teach us about DNA?

March 2016

August 2015

Led by Marija, a team with our collaborators from RPI, Rochester, Penn State and Northeastern won a 2M NSF EFRI grant. We held a kickoff meeting in August to get the ball rolling. More about the NSF grant here.

Included was a proposed portable museum exhibit to explain the concept of nanopore-based DNA sequencing, in partnership with the Franklin Museum in Philadelphia and Prof. Slavko Milekic (The University of the Arts).

Read more from PennNews.

(Image by ScEYEnce Studios)

August 2015

June 2015

Undergraduate student Bart Machielse was selected as one of twelve MIT summer scholars from June 7 to August 8, 2015. Bart was chosen among 156 applicants.

University of Pennsylania junior physics major Bartholomeus Machielse says, “I’m looking forward to meeting scientists from around the country and to experiencing the unique research environment that MIT offers, while continuing to develop the skills I’ll need to one day run my own lab.” Machielse was lead co-author of “Improving Signal-to-Noise Performance for DNA Translocation in Solid-State Nanopores at MHz Bandwidths” (Nano Letters, Nov. 21, 2014) under Prof. Marija Drndić, Professor of Physics at Penn.

May 2015

April 2015

Congratulations to Will Parkin on receiving the Arnold M. Denenstein Prize with the citation:

For his exemplary work in combining in situ nanosculpting and aberration corrected electron microscopy of two dimensional materials.

March 2015

Matt Puster celebrating defending his PhD Thesis

March 2015

Undergraduate Student, Rebecca Engelke, giving a talk at the APS march meeting 2015 in San Antonio.

The Drndić Lab traveled to APS March Meeting 2015 in San Antonio, Texas to give the following talks:

  • B1.00009 Effect of defects produced by electron irradiation on the electrical properties of graphene.
  • T15.00014 Reaching the Ionic Current Detection Limit in Silicon-Based Nanopores.
  • G43.00009 Improving signal-to-noise performance for DNA translocation in solid-state nanopores at MHz bandwidths.
  • G43.00010 DNA translocation measurements through low-capacitance solid-state nanopore chips at high bandwidths.
  • G43.00011 Up and down events in nanoparticle translocation through solid-state nanopores.
  • G48.00009 Obtaining structural information of small proteins using solid-state nanopores and high-bandwidth measurements.
  • T15.00003 Gold Nanorod translocations and charge measurement through solid-state nano pores.
  • W47.00010 Thinning silicon-based membranes with electron irradiation for solid-state nanopore sensors.

February 2015

Paul, Gopi, Priyanka and others from Drndic Lab participate in the Philly Materials Day 2015 on February 7, 2015 in the Bossone Research Enterprise Center at Drexel University, including lots of hands-on science and engineering fun for all ages!

February 2015

Undergraduate student Bart Machielse presented a poster entitled “Improving signal-to-noise performance for DNA translocation in solid-state nanopores at MHz bandwidths” at the Biophysical Society 59th Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MA from February 7-11, 2015.

February 2015

Now available on the iTunes store!

In Master Sequencer, the player runs along a DNA strand, effectively threading it through a nanopore and allowing it to be sequenced. This model is based on nanopore DNA sequencing, in which characteristic current changes due to the presence of a DNA base-pair in a nanopore are converted into a DNA sequence. In both the game and reality, sequencing is terminated when the DNA strand crashes into the membrane. The iOS game is similar to the well-known Temple Run and appeals to a wide range of audiences.

January 2015

Prof. Marija Drndić has been chosen as a Penn Fellow for the next two years. The Penn Fellows program is designed to provide a select group of developing campus leaders with an opportunity to build University-wide networks, think strategically about higher education, and learn more about Penn and its programs by interacting informally with members of the University’s executive team.

Information about the current Fellows is listed at provost.upenn.edu/penn-fellows.

November 2014

For the second year in a row, Marija is organizing the Greenfield Math Day in Albert Greenfield Elementary School in Center City, Philadelphia, to be held on November 18, 2014. (Any interested parents or children from other local schools interested to participate are welcome to contact Marija). Last year, the whole middle school consisting of about 200 students participated. The AMC8 is an international competition consisting of 25 multiple-choice questions and students have 40 minutes to work on it initiated by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). MAA encourages all students in grades 6, 7 and 8 to participate in the AMC 8. All USA, USA embassy, Canadian and foreign school students in grade 8 or below are eligible to participate. Especially talented students as young as 8 years old have participated in the past.

October 2014

Each year, the Nano/Bio Interface Center highlights nanotechnology across Penn. High school classes, undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs and faculty participate in exhibits, demonstrations, tours, posters and talks. Find out more at NanoDay@Penn.

Kim Venta judging high school projects during last year's NanoDay.

September 2014

Our MRSEC IRG-4 team (Drndić, Murray and Lukes labs) studies gold nanorods by passing them through nanopores (Nano Letters, 2014).

(MRSEC = Materials Research and Engineering Center; IRG = Interdisciplinary Research Group)

See the press release

May 2014

####Come see our work at the Philly Science Festival Carnival on May 3, 2014.

The Carnival runs from 10am to 4pm, and our group will demonstrate our work at a booth between 21st and 22nd on Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The Philadelphia science carnival features more than 175 exhibitors offering non-stop, family-friendly experiments, interactive activities, games, and a packed line-up of live entertainment. Enjoy making slime, meeting live zoo animals, checking out the inner-workings of robots, taking a tour of a helicopter, extracting DNA from a strawberry, testing a “crime scene” for forensic evidence, and so much more!

For more information, please go to philasciencefestival.org

March 2014

Professor Marija Drndić has been named an APS Fellow “For development of novel nanofabrication methods for graphene nanoelectronics and fast biomolecular analysis in solution.”

Nominated by: Division of Condensed Matter Physics

More info at the APS Fellow Archive.

November 2013

Graphene-based nanopore devices are promising candidates for next-generation DNA sequencing. In this paper, we fabricated graphene nanoribbon-nanopore (GNR-NP) sensors for DNA detection. GNR conductance was monitored in situ during electron irradiation-induced nanopore formation inside a transmission electron microscope (TEM). We show that GNR resistance increases linearly with electron dose and that GNR conductance and mobility decrease by a factor of ten or more when GNRs are imaged at relatively high magnification with a broad beam prior to making a nanopore. By operating the TEM in scanning TEM (STEM) mode, in which the position of the converged electron beam can be controlled with high spatial precision via automated feedback, we were able to prevent electron beam-induced damage and make nanopores in highly conducting GNR sensors. This method minimizes the exposure of the GNRs to the beam before and during nanopore formation. The resulting GNRs with unchanged resistances after nanopore formation can sustain microampere currents at low voltages (around 50 mV) in buffered electrolyte solution and exhibit high sensitivity, with a large relative change of resistance upon changes of gate voltage, similar to pristine GNRs without nanopores.

Selected Press:

August 2013

May 2013

In a recent ACS Nano paper, “Differentiation of Short, Single-Stranded DNA Homopolymers in Solid-State Nanopores”, we show that small solid-state nanopores similar in size to protein nanopores, combined with an optimized setup, can differentiate between single-stranded DNA homopolymers (with A, C, and T bases).

Selected press:

March 2012

Graduate student Matt Hickman received a 2012 NSF Graduate Student Fellowship. Matt’s journey took him from high energy physics to his new passion for single molecule biophysics experiments using graphene nanopores (March 2012).

March 2012

February 2012

Graduate student Matt Puster received the NSF-IGERT Graduate Nanotechnology Fellowship.

August 2011

August 2011

Former post-doc Meni Wanunu started an Assistant Professor position at Northeastern University.

August 2011

Graduate student Jessamyn Fairfield received an NSF travel fellowship to attend the Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute in Costa Rica on Scalable, Functional Nanomaterials.

July 2011

Post-doc Chris Merchant received the AAAS Science Policy Fellowship.

June 2011

May 2011

May 2011

We are seeking postdoc applications from outstanding candidates to join our effort on the advancement of fundamental science of ion/biomolecule/nanopore systems and the development of new sequencing technologies based on nanopores in graphene-based and silicon nitride-based platforms. Expertise in nanofabrication, electron beam lithography, transmission electron microscopy, electrical measurements with nanopores and microfluidics, biological sample preparation and handling, is a plus. Please send your interest to Prof. Drndić at drndic@physics.upenn.edu.

April 2011

Graduate student Kim Venta received an NSF Graduate Student Fellowship. Kim works at an intersection of condensed matter physics, biophysics and chemistry on understanding and developing approaches for biomolecule manipulation and analysis, including DNA sequencing, using graphene.

March 2011

March 2011

Our group is preparing presentations for the upcoming Biophysical Society and American Physical Society meetings. At the annual BPS meeting, Chris Merchant will give a talk on DNA translocations through nanopores created in graphene membranes on March 9th at 8:15 AM, and Kimberly Venta will present a poster in the poster session on March 9th from 10:30-12:30. At the APS March Meeting, Jessamyn Fairfield will give a talk about Memory, Photoconductivity, and Traps in Semiconducting Nanocrystal Arrays on March 23rd at 4:54 PM, and Chris Merchant will give a talk about DNA translocation through graphene nanopores on March 23rd at 12:27 PM.

December 2010

In our most recent paper, “Discrimination of methylcytosine from hydroxymethylcytosine in DNA molecules”, we investigate the physical properties of DNA with modified cytosines. Molecular dynamics simulations reveal that polar cytosine modifications affect internal base pair dynamics, while experimental evidence suggests a correlation between the modified cytosine’s polarity, DNA flexibility, and duplex stability. On the basis of these physical differences, solid-state nanopores can rapidly discriminate among DNA fragments with mC or hmC modification by sampling a few hundred molecules in the solution.

Selected press:

October 2010

Our new paper, “Rapid electronic detection of probe-specific microRNAs using thin nanopore sensors”, published in Nature Nanotechnology and featured on the journal cover page, develops a platform for electronic detection of probe-hybridized microRNAs. We find that reducing the thickness of the membrane containing the nanopore leads to increased signal amplitudes from biomolecules, and reducing the diameter of the nanopore allows the detection and discrimination of small nucleic acids based on differences in their physical dimensions. The work was done in collaboration with New England Biolabs.

Selected press:

September 2010

Research from our group was presented at the Workshop on Electronic Transport in Nanoengineered Materials, at the University of Chicago September 16-18, 2010. Marija Drndić gave a talk on “Nanogap quantum dot photoconductivity”, Matt Puster presented the poster “Electronic Transport Imaged via Electrostatic Force Microscopy in PbSe Nanocrystal Arrays”, and Lauren Willis and Jessamyn Fairfield presented the poster “Memory in Photoconductivity of Nanocrystal Arrays”.

August 2010

On August 24, 2010, Marija Drndić attended the Recovery Innovation Report White House event. Vice President Joe Biden detailed the role the Recovery Act has played in funding innovation.

August 2010

Meni Wanunu and Lauren Willis each gave a talk to high school teachers as part of the Research Experience for Teachers program organized by the Nano-Bio Interface Center (NBIC) at Penn.

August 2010

August 2010

Post-doc Meni Wanunu gave an invited talk at the Biosensing with Channels summer school in Berder Island, France in August 2010. Graduate Student Kimberly Venta presented a poster titled “Graphene Nanopores” at this conference as well.

July 2010

July 2010

New research from our group on graphene nanopores was published in Nano Letters. Our paper, DNA translocation through graphene nanopores, demonstrates DNA translocation through synthetic nanopore materials with atomic thickness and electrical addressability, which may serve as a step toward nanopore-based DNA sequencing. We envision graphene-based nanopore devices that sense and control the electric potential locally at the nanopore and are capable of measuring transverse current across the pore aperture.

Selected press:

April 2010

Post-doc Meni Wanunu gave the UPenn Department of Physics and Astronomy Condensed Matter Seminar on April 28th, 2010.

April 2010

July 2008

Research from our lab was featured on the History Channel show The Works on July 24th, 2008.

THE WORKS: POWER TOOLS (Thursday, July 24th at 10pm ET/PT) Since the Egyptians invented them three thousand years ago, power tools have transformed the face of the earth. As we trace their evolution, we find out their hidden commonalities: from power tools that slice mountains in half to new breakthroughs in nanotechnology that enable them to literally split hairs. Follow the life of a power tool as it goes from an idea to our garage shelf as we discover how they’re being used in surprising ways in sports, medicine and art.

March 2008

Invited lecture on TEBAL: Nanosculpting devices with electrons in a transmission electron microscope by Marija Drndić at the APS March Meeting 2008, Focus session Nanotechnology II, in New Orleans, March 10-14, 2008. (Abstract)

March 2008

Graduate student Michael Fischbein was awarded the 2007 Graduate Student Research Excellence Award from the Nano/Bio Interface Center. The associated 15-minute presentation will preceed this year’s keynote lecture by Charles Lieber during the NanoDay@Penn on October 24, 2007.

October 2007

August 2007

Graduate student Michael Fischbein was awarded the Elias Burstein Prize in Condensed Matter Physics for his creative and prolific work on nanolithography and its technological applications.

August 2007

July 2007

June 2007

Selected previous events:

  • Werner B. Teutsch Prize awarded to Lauren Willis (2006).
  • PECASE Award (Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers) awarded to Marija Drndić (2005).
  • NSF-IGERT graduate fellowship awarded to Michael Fischbein (2004-2007).
  • Arnold M. Denenstein Prize awarded to Michael Fischbein (2004).