Researchers proposed a new method for the preparation of solid-state nanopores with pore sizes less than 10 nanometers

Recently, researchers from the Materials Research Center of the Institute of Modern Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences cooperated with the Joint Nuclear Institute of Dubna in Russia to develop a new technology for the preparation of solid-state nanopores with a pore size of less than 10 nanometers. The results were published in the journal Nano Letters. 

The preparation of high-quality solid-state nanopores is a key technology for applications such as DNA sequencing, nanoflow devices, and nanofiltration membranes. At present, the mainstream method for preparing solid nanopores in inorganic thin film materials is focused ion/electron beam etching, which requires real-time feedback during the preparation process, which is more suitable for the preparation of single nanopores. Therefore, it is of great scientific significance to explore the rapid preparation technology of solid-state nanopores with adjustable pore size, controllable pore density and no real-time feedback. 

Based on the Lanzhou Heavy Ion Research Device (HIRFL), the researchers successfully realized the preparation method of direct “perforation” by using fast heavy ions to act on WO3 nanosheet materials. At the same time, the researchers used molecular dynamics simulation to explain the physical mechanism, and found that the deposition energy of heavy ions in the material will cause the instantaneous melting eruption of the local material, and the viscosity and surface tension of the molten phase are the key factors determining the formation of nanopores. 

This method regulates the pore size by changing the electron energy loss of heavy ions, and adjusts the pore density by changing the amount of heavy ion irradiation, and the whole pore making process is completed in one step, without involving chemical etching, which has certain universality and application potential. 

The research work has opened up a new way for the application of heavy ion beams to the preparation of solid nanopores, and also provided an important theoretical basis for explaining the microscopic mechanism of the formation of latent paths of heavy ions in solid materials. 

The work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. (Source: Ye Manshan, China Science News)

Example of fast heavy ions forming nanopores directly in WO3 nanosheets. Photo courtesy of Near Things

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