Generalized Noise Study of Solid-State Nanopores at Low Frequencies
Nanopore technology has been extensively investigated for analysis of biomolecules, and a success story in this field concerns DNA sequencing using a nanopore chip featuring an array of hundreds of biological nanopores (BioNs). Solid-state nanopores (SSNs) have been explored to attain longer lifetime and higher integration density than what BioNs can offer, but SSNs are generally considered to generate higher noise whose origin remains to be confirmed. Here, we systematically study low-frequency (including thermal and flicker) noise characteristics of SSNs measuring 7 to 200 nm in diameter drilled through a 20-nm-thick SiNx membrane by focused ion milling. Both bulk and surface ionic currents in the nanopore are found to contribute to the flicker noise, with their respective contributions determined by salt concentration and pH in electrolytes as well as bias conditions. Increasing salt concentration at constant pH and voltage bias leads to increase in the bulk ionic current and noise therefrom. Changing pH at constant salt concentration and current bias results in variation of surface charge density, and hence alteration of surface ionic current and noise. In addition, the noise from Ag/AgCl electrodes can become predominant when the pore size is large and/or the salt concentration is high. Analysis of our comprehensive experimental results leads to the establishment of a generalized nanopore noise model. The model not only gives an excellent account of the experimental observations, but can also be used for evaluation of various noise components in much smaller nanopores currently not experimentally available.