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Materials

Hot Particles For Graphene Nanopores

Laser light and gold nanostructures could pave straightforward path to multiplexed graphene biosensors

by Matt Davenport
September 15, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 37

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Credit: Nano Lett.
Laser light heats, reshapes, and pushes gold nanoparticles to carve pores into graphene.
09237-scicon-NanopSchcxd.jpg
Credit: Nano Lett.
Laser light heats, reshapes, and pushes gold nanoparticles to carve pores into graphene.
[+]Enlarge
Credit: Nano Lett.
Gold nanoparticles (bright spots) remain after pores (dark circles) form and act as optical antennae.
09237-scicon-NanoporeSEMcxd.jpg
Credit: Nano Lett.
Gold nanoparticles (bright spots) remain after pores (dark circles) form and act as optical antennae.

Interest in nanoscopic holes has blossomed thanks largely to DNA sequencers based on nanopores formed from proteins. But researchers are becoming increasingly keen on pores in solid-state materials, such as graphene, because they can accommodate extra onboard optical or electronic nanostructures to enhance or expand a device’s biosensing abilities. Scientists typically pursue such nanoengineering feats one pore a time, making them difficult to scale up. An international research team led by Luke P. Lee of the University of California, Berkeley, has now developed a method that creates multiple graphene nanopores at once, each with a built-in antenna (Nano Lett. 2014, DOI: 10.1021/nl503159d). The researchers drop-cast gold nanoparticles onto a graphene substrate and then hit the particles with laser light. The light heats the particles to an estimated 680 °C—hot enough to oxidize graphene—and generates a radiative force that scoots the particles along the surface, leaving voids in their wake. After the laser is switched off, metal particles remain at each pore’s mouth. The team showed that these gold antennae can boost the optical signals from fluorescent biomolecules near the pore.

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