CBD – Controlled BreakDown

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(a) Representation of a SiNX membrane during nanopore fabrication via CBD. (b) Representation of a SiNX membrane during conditioning, with an alternating voltage applied in high salt. (c) Representation of a SiNX membrane during sensing of single DNA molecules under a weak constant bias. (d) Democratizing nanopore-based research: comparison of the preparatory steps required to fabricate a solid-state nanopore using controlled breakdown (CBD) and beam-based methods. Note that CBD simplifies the workflow by automating all of the steps required to obtain a nanopore that is useful for sensing within tens of minutes. By comparison, beam-based drilling methods are slow, expensive, and have poor yield.

Controlled breakdown (CBD) is an easily accessible nanofabrication method for making nanopores in thin solid-state membranes. We first published the method back in 2014 [Kwok, H.; Briggs, K.; and Tabard-Cossa, V. PLoS ONE 9(3): e92880 (2014) read], and since then CBD has rapidly become the method of choice by which solid-state nanopores are fabricated.

In a recently published article in Nature Protocols [Waugh, M., Briggs, K., Gunn, D. et al. Solid-state nanopore fabrication by automated controlled breakdown. Nat Protoc (2019) doi:10.1038/s41596-019-0255-2 – read], we present our accumulated knowledge of nanopore fabrication by CBD since our initial publication of the method, including a detailed description of the instrumentation, software, and protocols required to reliably automate fabrication of low noise, precisely sized, solid-state nanopores. Unlike traditional beam-based nanopore fabrication technologies, the methods presented here are accessible to non-experts, lowering the cost and technical barriers for fabricating nanoscale pores in thin solid-state membranes and ultimately democratizing the field of solid-state nanopore research.

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