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July 12th, 2007
A semiconductor membrane designed by researchers at the University of Illinois could offer more flexibility and better electrical performance than biological membranes. Built from thin silicon layers doped with different impurities, the solid-state membrane also could be used in applications such as single-molecule detection, protein filtering and DNA sequencing.
"By creating nanopores in the membrane, we can use the membrane to separate charged species or regulate the flow of charged molecules and ions, thereby mimicking the operation of biological ion channels," said lead researcher
Jean-Pierre Leburton, the Stillman Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois.
Leburton, with postdoctoral research associate Maria Gracheva and graduate student Julien Vidal, simulated the operation of the semiconductor membrane at a number of electrostatic potentials. They report their findings in a paper accepted for publication in the journal Nano Letters, and posted on the journal's Web site.
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