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Reversible mechanical actuation of elastomeric nanopores

G R Willmott and P W Moore
Nanotechnology. 2008. Volume 19, Number 47, 5504

Mechanical resizing of individual nanopores in a thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer has been characterized. Specimen nanopores were conical, with smaller hole dimensions of the order of tens to hundreds of nanometres. Electrophoretic current measurements show that the estimated nanopore radius can be reversibly actuated over an order of magnitude by stretching and relaxing the elastomer. Within a working range of stretching, current is proportional to specimen extension to the power of a constant, n, which ranges from 0.9 to 2.3 for different specimens. The data indicate that scaling of the effective pore radius is super-affine. At strains below the working range, the pore size is relatively unresponsive to stretching. Macroscopic elastomer extension has been related to local radial strain (50–250 µm from the pore) using optical microscopy. Scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy have been used to observe membrane surface features.

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