Controlled fabrication of nanopores using a direct focused ion beam approach with back face particle detection.

Nanotechnology

PubMedID: 21825787

Patterson N, Adams DP, Hodges VC, Vasile MJ, Michael JR, Kotula PG. Controlled fabrication of nanopores using a direct focused ion beam approach with back face particle detection. Nanotechnology. 2008;19(23):235304.
We report a direct, ion drilling technique that enables the reproducible fabrication and placement of nanopores in membranes of different thickness. Using a 30 keV focused Ga ion beam column combined with an in situ, back face, multi-channelplate particle detector, nanopores are sputtered in Si(3)N(4) and W/Si(3)N(4) to have diameters as small as 12 nm. Transmission electron microscopy shows that focused ion beam-drilled holes are near-conical with the diameter decreasing from entry to exit side. By monitoring the detector signal during ion exposure, the drilled hole width can be minimized such that the exit-side diameter is smaller than the full width at half-maximum of the nominally Gaussian-shaped incident beam. Judicious choice of the beam defining aperture combined with back face particle detection allows for reproducible exit-side hole diameters between 18 and 100 nm. The nanopore direct drilling technique does not require potentially damaging broad area exposure to tailor hole sizes. Moreover, this technique successfully achieves breakthrough despite the effects of varying membrane thickness, redeposition, polycrystalline grain structure, and slight ion beam current fluctuations.