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Electron irradiation of immobilized DNA in solution through a silicon nano-membrane

: Solomun, T.; Seitz, H.; Sturm, H.


Radiation physics and chemistry 88 (2013), S.70-73
ISSN: 0020-7055
ISSN: 0146-5724
ISSN: 0969-806X
Fraunhofer IBMT ()

In fields involving irradiated aqueous solutions, such as radiotherapy and nuclear waste remediation, it is often unclear whether the principal reactive species are OH° radicals or secondary (low-energy) electrons. This is mostly because both are rapidly attenuated in water. Presently a large part of the evidence for the involvement of low-energy electrons in biological radiation damage is based on "dry" DNA samples. We demonstrate irradiation of DNA in solution by direct injection of electrons through a 40-nm thin SiO2 membrane, followed by in-situ detection of the DNA damage by a fluorescence-based method. Corresponding Monte Carlo simulations show that the spatial distribution of ionizing events in water with respect to the membrane is controlled by the electron impact energy. By immobilizing DNA to the solution side of the membrane, and because dynamics and reaction ranges of OH° radicals and low-energy electrons are dramatically different, it is possible to tune in to the OH° radical or into the electron "reaction modes" by simply changing the electron impact energy. Such experiments have the potential to provide important information on the radio-sensitivity at a level of a single biomolecule and to contribute to the development of new dosage concepts.