Nano Lett. 12, 512–517 (2012)

In biology, protein channels can regulate the permeability of lipid bilayer membranes for ions and molecules. These characteristics have inspired researchers to investigate solid-state nanopores for DNA sequencing and sensing applications. However, the shape and the surface chemistry of such top-down fabricated nanopores can only be controlled with limited precision. Nicholas Bell and colleagues now report the design and assembly of hybrid organic–inorganic nanopores with well-defined diameters. Their method is based on DNA origami — the synthesis of DNA strands that self-assemble into predesigned three-dimensional shapes. The researchers use this method to construct funnel-like structures with a leash that can be pulled through a nanopore in a silicon nitride membrane. The assembly scheme is robust and reversible and the pores can already be used to detect the translocation of single DNA strands. The researchers suggest that their origami structures could be modified further to induce additional functionality for stochastic sensing applications.