Utmost precision in minimum space:
Hilgenberg's glass capillaries enter the field of nanotechnology

For decades, laboratories all around the world have relied on glass capillaries from Hilgenberg, whenever utmost precision and top quality are required. With a new product development, our company now opens the way for applications in the nanoscale.

A typical application for glass capillaries supplied by Hilgenberg GmbH is found in microbiology, where they are used as “vacuum cleaners” during cell manipulation. For this purpose, their tips have miniature openings to which single cells can be attached – a procedure that has become known from the discussions about cloning.


Now, a new approach has resulted in a quantum leap regarding the reduction of the tip opening – from diameters in the micron region (10-6 m) down to the nanoscale (10-9 m). This permits glass capillaries to be produced, whose tip openings are able to capture even single molecules such as proteins or DNA. In combination with ultra-sensitive current amplifiers, this enables proteins or DNA to be detected, which permits a precise definition of length, size, and quantity of molecules that pass through the tip of the glass capillary.


This extreme reduction of the tip opening was made possible by introducing heat energy from an electron microscope into the glass, which consists mainly of silicon oxide. The process was discovered almost coincidentally by the scientist Lorenz Steinbock, when he exposed a glass capillary to an electron microscope's beam for too long. Hereby, he noticed that the diameter of the tip opening decreased continuously due to a temperature increase in the glass surface caused by the electron beam, thereby rearranging the atoms.


This nanoscale shrinkage of the tip opening under the electron microscope beam is comparable with a glass blower who shapes a workpiece by means of a flame, rotation, and the application of air pressure. In the same way that a glass blower subjects his workpiece to heat in a controlled manner, the intensity of the electron beam can be controlled and stopped as soon as the nanoscale tip opening reaches the required diameter.


Thanks to this discovery, the application range for Hilgenberg glass capillaries has been increased significantly.


  • Controllable Shrinking and Shaping of Glass Nanocapillaries under Electron Irradiation
  • LJ Steinbock, JF Steinbock, A Radenovic
  • Nano letters 13 (4), 1717-1723

  • DNA Translocation through Low-Noise Glass Nanopores,
  • LJ. Steinbock, R. Bulushev, S. Krishnan, C. Raillon, A. Radenovic
  • ACS Nano, 2013
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  • Glass tube with side-opening
  • Glass fibers with sphere formed end
  • NMR Tubes with thread for low vacuum applications
  • Mark tubes with special inner surface
  • Mini test tubes with extended flange
  • New preform for redrawing of capillaries
  • Test tubes with sagging at the bottom
  • Cloning cylinders with numbering
  • Large-volume theta cross-section capillaries
  • High tightness with new standard cap
  • Complex component made of quartz glass
  • Dropper pipettes in many sizes and designs
  • Packing glasses protected from light
  • Ampoules with built-in test leckage
  • Thick-walled sample vessels
  • Measuring ampoules with conical bottom
  • Special glass capillaries for measurements
  • Glass capillaries with constriction
  • Finely scaled glass cannulas
  • CNC processing of glass plates
  • New 5 mm NMR standard caps
  • Glass crucible for thermal analyses
  • Glass capillaries with graduation
  • Square capillary with 9 internal channels
  • 9-fold capillary made of borosilicate glass 3.3
  • Our tool for cutting glass capillaries
  • Diamond wire for cutting capillaries
  • Sight glasses (laser structured)
  • Very thick-walled capillaries
  • Polyimide coated filling needles
  • Ampoules with small volume
  • NMR tubes colored (UV protection)
  • NMR septum caps (increased denseness)
  • NMR tubes (barcode & constriction)
  • Mark tubes with perforated bottom
  • Test tubes with hole e.g. as vent
  • Test tubes with grooved rim
  • Oval capillaires (thin-walled)
  • Triangular capillaries (thin-walled)
  • Twisted capillaries by hot forming
  • Multi-channel capillaries (circular array)
  • Special light pipe made of glass
  • Luggin-capillary for measurements
  • Test mandrels (different materials)
  • Carpoules with special-rolled rim
  • Glass capillary for the stimulation
  • XRD-capillary with Luer-connector
  • Glass nozzle with seal-and retaining ring
  • Glass capillary with side-mounted connectors
  • Easily destructible glass ampoules
  • Glass rods with surface patterning
  • Long-conical focusing nozzles
  • Surface patterning of glass substrates
  • Laser sublimation-drilling in flat capillaries
  • Thin needles up to 180 ° flexible
  • Glass needles with curved tip
  • Polished to precision glass rings
  • Glass rods with partially-frosted surface
  • Sealing glass with high thermal expansion