A silica nanochannel and its applications in sensing and molecular transport

Anal Chem. 2009 Jul 1;81(13):5541-8. doi: 10.1021/ac9009148.


We present the preparation, characterization, and analytical application of silica nanochannels in the size range of 5-100 nm. These cylindrical-shaped nanochannels are prepared using a simple laser-assisted mechanical pulling process, followed by partial enclosure into a glass micropipet. The nanochannels are characterized using a combination of optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and resistance measurements in an electrolyte solution. The SEM results show that the nanochannel has circular geometry at the orifice. Ohmic response has been obtained from current-voltage measurements in KCl solutions using a silica nanochannel as small as 9 nm in diameter. These nanochannels have been utilized to sense single 40 nm polystyrene nanoparticles. A linear response has been observed between the detection rate and the concentration of nanoparticles in the range of 0-25 nM. The silica nanochannels have also been applied to the study of molecular transport of double-stranded DNA. Electroosmosis-driven molecular translocation has been observed for genomic-length lambda-DNA through a 9 nm nanochannel in a 3 M KCl solution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Electrochemistry
  • Electrodes
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / ultrastructure
  • Polystyrenes / chemistry
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry*


  • Polystyrenes
  • Silicon Dioxide