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BME Seminar Series: Vincent Tabard-Cossa

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
9:00 a.m.
Goergen Hall 101 (Sloan Auditorium)

Controlled Dielectric Breakdown - A new strategy to fabricate solid-state nanopores to characterize nucleic acids and proteins at the single-molecule level

Center for Interdisciplinary NanoPhysics, Department of Physics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada


The nanopore field was initially shaped by the ability of researchers to exploit biological channels to translocate individual molecules. Some years later, the field experienced a revolution when new techniques to fabricate nanometer scale holes in solid-state materials were developed. These techniques, based on a beam of energetic ions or electrons, allowed some well-equipped academic laboratories to sculpt a single nanopore in a thin, mechanically robust membrane, and tune its geometry, diversifying the breadth of applications. Since then, ion beam sculpting and transmission electron microscopy-based drilling have remained the tools of choice for fabricating individual solid-state nanopores at the sub- 10-nm length scale with single nanometer precision. However, one of today's greatest barriers to further development of the nanopore field is the complexity, low- throughput, and high cost associated with these techniques. These factors restrict accessibility to the field to many researchers, greatly limit the productivity of the community, and prevent mass production of nanopore-based technologies.

In this talk, I will present the recent progress in my group to develop an alternative nanofabrication strategy for making solid-state nanopores based on the use of high electric fields to control dielectric breakdown directly in solution [1-3]. I will discuss the basis of this method and how it can be applied for the automated and low-cost, fabrication of individual sub-2nm nanopores. I will also show how this technique can be extended to metallized membranes to fabricate pores in more complex devices, and be integrated into microfluidic circuitry for processing of complex biological samples and to fabricate arrays of individually addressable nanopore sensors for diagnostic applications.

[1. Briggs et al. Small (2014); 2. Kwok et al. PLoS ONE (2014); 3. Beamish et al. Nanotechnology (2012)]