Measuring conductance switching in single proteins using quantum tunneling

Tang, Longhua and Yi, Long and Jiang, Tao and Ren, Ren and Paulose Nadappuram, Binoy and Zhang, Bintian and Wu, Jian and Liu, Xu and Lindsay, Stuart and Edel, Joshua B. and Ivanov, Aleksandar P. (2022) Measuring conductance switching in single proteins using quantum tunneling. Science Advances, 8 (20). eabm8149. ISSN 2375-2548 (

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Interpreting the electrical signatures of single proteins in electronic junctions has facilitated a better understanding of the intrinsic properties of proteins that are fundamental to chemical and biological processes. Often, this information is not accessible using ensemble and even single-molecule approaches. In addition, the fabrication of nanoscale single-protein junctions remains challenging as they often require sophisticated methods. We report on the fabrication of tunneling probes, direct measurement, and active control (switching) of single-protein conductance with an external field in solution. The probes allowed us to bridge a single streptavidin molecule to two independently addressable, biotin-terminated electrodes and measure single-protein tunneling response over long periods. We show that charge transport through the protein has multiple conductive pathways that depend on the magnitude of the applied bias. These findings open the door for the reliable fabrication of protein-based junctions and can enable their use in future protein-embedded bioelectronics applications.