Rectification of protein translocation in truncated pyramidal nanopores
Solid-state nanopore technology presents an emerging single-molecule-based analytical tool for the separation and analysis of nanoparticles. Different approaches have been pursued to attain the anticipated detection performance. Here, we report the rectification behaviour of protein translocation through silicon-based truncated pyramidal nanopores. When the size of translocating proteins is comparable to the smallest physical constriction of the nanopore, the frequency of translocation events observed is lower for proteins that travel from the larger to the small opening of the nanopore than for those that travel in the reverse direction. When the proteins are appreciably smaller than the nanopore, an opposite rectification in the frequency of translocation events is evident. The maximum rectification factor achieved is around ten. Numerical simulations reveal the formation of an electro-osmotic vortex in such asymmetric nanopores. The vortex–protein interaction is found to play a decisive role in rectifying the translocation in terms of polarity and amplitude. The reported phenomenon can be potentially exploitable for the discrimination of various nanoparticles.