Open Access Nano Express

Electrically tunable solid-state silicon nanopore ion filter

Julien Vidal12, Maria E Gracheva2 and Jean-Pierre Leburton12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, 61801, USA

2 Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, 61801, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Nanoscale Research Letters 2006, 2:61-68  doi:10.1007/s11671-006-9031-7

Published: 19 December 2006


We show that a nanopore in a silicon membrane connected to a voltage source can be used as an electrically tunable ion filter. By applying a voltage between the heavily doped semiconductor and the electrolyte, it is possible to invert the ion population inside the nanopore and vary the conductance for both cations and anions in order to achieve selective conduction of ions even in the presence of significant surface charges in the membrane. Our model based on the solution of the Poisson equation and linear transport theory indicates that in narrow nanopores substantial gain can be achieved by controlling electrically the width of the charge double layer.

Ion channels; Artificial nanopore; Silicon materials; Nanofluidics