Lasers cut nanopores, and costs
Lithography-free formation of nanopores in low-cost plastic materials may not sound like a big deal, but it could prove to be a big leap forward in nanotechnology for several reasons.
First, synthetic nanopores have a wide range of biological and nonbiological applications, including characterization of DNA, detection of immune complexes, profiling of optical traps, and basic studies of nanoscale ion transport mechanisms. Second, lithography, which requires printing like that used in computer microchips, can be expensive and difficult at the nanoscale.
Now, researchers at Brown University have developed a lithography-free technique for fabricating nanopores using low-cost plastic. The scientists used transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and lasers to drill and shrink holes in silicon dioxide with single nanometer precision. They also found they can easily control the diameter of the holes drilled.
"A key to nanopore fabrication is a feedback mechanism with which one can stop the pore shrinking by turning off the heat," Dr. Sean Ling told Nanowerk. "For applications such as single molecule analysis, DNA sequencing, etc. our technique (laser) and materials (plastics) will lead to dramatic cost reductions in fabricating such nanopore devices" says Ling. (photo Brown University)