Fabrication of solid-state Nanopores for DNA analysis

One of revolutionary technologies to sequence single molecules, such as DNA, is using nanopore devices. A single-channel with nanometer-scale aperture allows an extremely rapid electric analysis of such single molecules. The objective of this work is to fabricate nanopores into robust, solid-state membranes to achieve better performances. The technological challenge is in the small required dimension of the nanopore, around 50-100 nm in diameter and depth. To reach this objective, we used two different techniques: the ion track technique and a microfabrication method associated with Focused Ion Beam (FIB). A literature review has been done on the ion track technique. Threshold values of the ion track formation have been found for different insulator materials (polymers, SiO2, SiN). We did experiments with the linear accelerator UNILAC (Universal Linear Accelerator) at the GSI (Darmstadt, Germany) where we irradiated our samples with heavy gold ions (11.4 MeV/nucleon). On very thin membranes, we expect that a direct perforation would occur, and we chose SiN membranes and SU-8 thin films as samples. However, the experiment of ion bombardment was not possible to be done early enough, thus TEM analysis have not been done yet. If the direct perforation by ion bombardment is not possible, a chemical etching step would be necessary. About the microfabrication method associated with Focused Ion Beam (FIB) perforation, we did experiments at the Center of Micro Nano Technology (CMI) in EPFL. First trial with FIB was done on SiN membranes. In order to obtain required aperture size, reduction of membrane thickness before perforation by FIB was attempted, but this process was difficult to be achieved because of charging. To overcome this dimension limitation we chose a silicon membrane. With silicon membranes, oxidation would be performed after perforation by FIB, since channel opening will be reduced by SiO2 growth. Moreover, this oxide layer allows a functionalisation of the inner surface of the nanopore by silane chemistry. That should improve the resolution of DNA analysis. Though the aperture size reduction by oxidation has not been done yet, refining and perforation by FIB will be done according to this idea. We should reach ca. 100 nm-aperture size. Even if validation measurements are not easy, our specifications should be reached with the oxidation. More experiments and analysis have to be performed for further improvement.


 Record created 2005-11-02, last modified 2018-03-17

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