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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fabrication of Subnanometer-Precision Nanopores in Hexagonal Boron Nitride

  • Author(s): Gilbert, SM
  • Dunn, G
  • Azizi, A
  • Pham, T
  • Shevitski, B
  • Dimitrov, E
  • Liu, S
  • Aloni, S
  • Zettl, A
  • et al.

© 2017 The Author(s). We demonstrate the fabrication of individual nanopores in hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) with atomically precise control of the pore shape and size. Previous methods of pore production in other 2D materials typically create pores with irregular geometry and imprecise diameters. In contrast, other studies have shown that with careful control of electron irradiation, defects in h-BN grow with pristine zig-zag edges at quantized triangular sizes, but they have failed to demonstrate production and control of isolated defects. In this work, we combine these techniques to yield a method in which we can create individual size-quantized triangular nanopores through an h-BN sheet. The pores are created using the electron beam of a conventional transmission electron microscope; which can strip away multiple layers of h-BN exposing single-layer regions, introduce single vacancies, and preferentially grow vacancies only in the single-layer region. We further demonstrate how the geometry of these pores can be altered beyond triangular by changing beam conditions. Precisely size- and geometry-tuned nanopores could find application in molecular sensing, DNA sequencing, water desalination, and molecular separation.

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