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Electrophoresis. 2018 Feb;39(4):626-634. doi: 10.1002/elps.201700299. Epub 2017 Dec 8.

Conductance-based profiling of nanopores: Accommodating fabrication irregularities.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, USA.


Solid-state nanopores are nanoscale channels through otherwise impermeable membranes. Single molecules or particles can be passed through electrolyte-filled nanopores by, e.g. electrophoresis, and then detected through the resulting physical displacement of ions within the nanopore. Nanopore size, shape, and surface chemistry must be carefully controlled, and on extremely challenging <10 nm-length scales. We previously developed a framework to characterize nanopores from the time-dependent changes in their conductance as they are being formed through solution-phase nanofabrication processes with the appeal of ease and accessibility. We revisited this simulation work, confirmed the suitability of the basic conductance equation using the results of time-dependent experimental conductance measurements during nanopore fabrication by Yanagi et al., and then deliberately relaxed the model constraints to allow for (i) the presence of defects; and (ii) the formation of two small pores instead of one larger one. Our simulations demonstrated that the time-dependent conductance formalism supports the detection and characterization of defects, as well as the determination of pore number, but with implementation performance depending on the measurement context and results. In some cases, the ability to discriminate numerically between the correct and incorrect nanopore profiles was slight, but with accompanying differences in candidate nanopore dimensions that could yield to post-fabrication conductance profiling, or be used as convenient uncertainty bounds. Time-dependent nanopore conductance thus offers insight into nanopore structure and function, even in the presence of fabrication defects.


Dielectric breakdown; Nanopore; Nanopore conductance; Nanopore defect; Pore density; Silicon nitride nanopore


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