This is the second newsflash of the day which mentions IBM, patents, and graphene. Earlier we saw a patent accepted for the use of graphene as a transparent electrode in solar cells, and now we see IBM apply for a patent to use graphene for DNA sequencing.
US patent application number 20120267729, entitled “self-sealed fluidic channels for nanopore array”, describes an array of channels made in graphene or silicon nitride membranes which are used for sequencing DNA. The channels are nanometer-sized pores, connected to optical or electronic sensors. When a DNA molecule passes through a pore, its presence is detected by the sensor. The patent includes detailed drawings of complete devices, together with the fabrication procedure.
The idea is very nice, and seems feasible, but a relevant question is one of priority. The patent was filed in April last year, whereas we have been seeing graphene-based DNA sequencers in the scientific literature since 2010. The embodiment and particular design of the device are new, however, which might be enough to approve the patent. Congratulations again to IBM for its continuous drive to use graphene for amazing new applications.