Push-Button Method To Create Nanopores Using a Tesla-Coil Lighter

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Controlled dielectric breakdown (CDB) of silicon nitride thin films immersed in electrolyte solution has been used to fabricate single nanofluidic channels with ∼10 nm and smaller diameters, nanopores, useful in single-molecule sensing and ionic circuit construction. A hand-held Tesla-coil lighter was used to form nanofluidic ionic conductors through a ∼10 nm thick silicon nitride membrane. Modifications to the conventional approach were required by the low-overhead Tesla-coil-assisted method (TCAM): increased circuit resistance by including water in place of electrolyte and discrete rather than continuous voltage applications. The resulting ionic conductance could be tuned with the number of voltage applications. TCAM and conventional CDB produced nanopores with different conductance versus pH curves, suggesting different surface chemistry. Nevertheless, sensing experiments using the canonical test molecule, λ-DNA, produced signals comparable to translocation results through solid-state nanopores fabricated by other methods. Thus, the TCAM method offers flexibility in fabrication and in the properties and function of the nanoscale ionic conductors that it can generate.

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ACS Omega