Membrane Insertion of Potential Sensing Nanorods

Tech ID: 29515 / UC Case 2017-710-0


UCLA researchers in the Department of Chemistry have developed inorganic semiconductor nanosensors that measure membrane voltage.


Integrating inorganic nanomaterials with naturally evolved or synthetically evolved biological machineries have the potential to yield highly sophisticated hybrid nanobiomaterials that could outperform purely biological or purely inorganic materials. Such materials have been used for in vitro biosensing, intra-cellular biological imaging, single protein tracking in live cells, and in vivo molecular imaging. However, there has been limited work towards the functionalization of these nanomaterials to allow for integration into the membrane. Moreover, no attempts have allowed for the targeted insertion of rod-shaped nanoparticles into the lipid bilayer, which would be particularly useful for measuring membrane voltage.


Researchers at UCLA have developed membrane voltage nanosensors that are based on inorganic semiconductor nanoparticles. These voltage nanosensors are designed to optically record the membrane potential with single-particle sensitivity. The semiconductor nanoparticles would allow for simultaneous recording of action potentials from multiple neurons in a large field-of-view over a long duration and for recording electrical signals on the nanoscale. Moreover, these sensors would have the potential to report and resolve voltage signals on the nanoscale. These high sensitivity nanosensors can be applied in the study of electrical activities in neuronal, neuromuscular, and visual systems on the nanoscale (e.g., across a single synapse) or to record a large number of signals from a large-field of view (e.g., high throughput recording).


  • Voltage nanosensors 
  • Inducing action potential 
  • Characterization of high density fast integrated circuits 
  • Energy harvesting by membrane-inserted artificial light harvesting 
  • Membrane-based hybrid materials


  • Records membrane potential with single-particle sensitivity 
  • Can potentially record electrical signals on the nanoscale 
  • Can potentially record large number of signals with high throughput

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
Patent Cooperation Treaty Published Application WO2018209111A1 11/15/2018 2017-710

Additional Patent Pending

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Other Information


Membrane potential sensing, nanosensor, semiconductor voltage nanosensor, potential sensing nanorods, 1D nanomaterials, action potential recording, semiconductor nanoparticles

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