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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of Utah

Environmentally Responsive Nano0pores

Ilya Zharov, Ph.D.

Project Description:

We propose to develop artificial membranes containing nanoscale pores whose mechanical, electrical, and chemical properties are controlled at a nanoscale with organic molecules. The pores will be fabricated in 30-50 nm silicon nitride membranes, and as an integral component of Pt/glass nanopore electrodes. The goal of the proposed work is to covalently modify the inner walls of 5-50 nm wide nanopores with organic molecules whose size and shape are sensitive to external stimuli, such as pH, solvent polarity, pX (where X is an ion or a small molecule), external electric field, light, etc., thus producing responsive nanopores.

Specific aims of the project are:


  1. To develop the preparation of the nanopores in silicon nitride and in glass to the specified size
  2. To design the molecules for the responsive nanopores, and to optimize the chemistry needed for their attachment to the nanopore walls
  3. To study the stimulus-response behavior of the attached molecules and their interactions within the confines of the nanopores
  4. To study the transport dynamics within the resulting responsive nanopores


The pores have long-range applications in stochastic biosensor devices, in separations investigations of biomolecules, and in controlled drug release devices. The proposed work is a highly innovative, design-driven effort that will lead to the creation and use of nanoscale devices with a host of biological and medical applications. This effort brings together such disciplines as organic synthesis, surface chemistry, analytical chemistry, material science, and electrical engineering.

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