Author(s): Storm AJ, Chen JH, Ling XS, Zandbergen HW, Dekker C
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Abstract Single nanometre-sized pores (nanopores) embedded in an insulating membrane are an exciting new class of nanosensors for rapid electrical detection and characterization of biomolecules. Notable examples include alpha-hemolysin protein nanopores in lipid membranes and solid-state nanopores in Si3N4. Here we report a new technique for fabricating silicon oxide nanopores with single-nanometre precision and direct visual feedback, using state-of-the-art silicon technology and transmission electron microscopy. First, a pore of 20 nm is opened in a silicon membrane by using electron-beam lithography and anisotropic etching. After thermal oxidation, the pore can be reduced to a single-nanometre when it is exposed to a high-energy electron beam. This fluidizes the silicon oxide leading to a shrinking of the small hole due to surface tension. When the electron beam is switched off, the material quenches and retains its shape. This technique dramatically increases the level of control in the fabrication of a wide range of nanodevices.
This article was published in Nat Mater
and referenced in Biochemistry & Pharmacology: Open Access