Solid-state nanopores are single-molecule sensors that detect changes in ionic conductance (δG) when individual molecules pass through them. Producing high signal-to-noise ratio for the measurement of molecular structure in applications such as DNA sequencing requires low noise and large δG. The latter is achieved by reducing the nanopore diameter and membrane thickness. While the minimum diameter is limited by the molecule size, the membrane thickness is constrained by material properties. We use molecular dynamics simulations to determine the theoretical thickness limit of amorphous Si membranes to be -1 nm, and we designed an electron-irradiation-based thinning method to reach that limit and drill nanopores in the thinned regions. Double-stranded DNA translocations through these nanopores (down to 1.4 nm in thickness and 2.5 nm in diameter) provide the intrinsic ionic conductance detection limit in Si-based nanopores. In this regime, where the access resistance is comparable to the nanopore resistance, we observe the appearance of two conductance levels during molecule translocation. Considering the overall performance of Si-based nanopores, our work highlights their potential as a leading material for sequencing applications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Materials Science
- General Engineering
- General Physics and Astronomy