Emergent behaviour from electron-transport properties is routinely observed in systems with dimensions approaching the nanoscale1. However, analogous mesoscopic behaviour resulting from ionic transport has so far not been observed, most probably because of bottlenecks in the controlled fabrication of subnanometre nanopores for use in nanofluidics. Here, we report measurements of ionic transport through a single subnanometre pore junction, and the observation of ionic Coulomb blockade: the ionic counterpart of the electronic Coulomb blockade observed for quantum dots. Our findings demonstrate that nanoscopic, atomically thin pores allow for the exploration of phenomena in ionic transport, and suggest that nanopores may also further our understanding of transport through biological ion channels.
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This work was financially supported by the European Research Council (grant no. 259398, PorABEL), SNSF Consolidator grant (BIONIC BSCGI0_157802) and SNSF Sinergia Grant no. 147607. We thank the Centre Interdisciplinaire de Microscopie Électronique (CIME) at EPFL for access to electron microscopes and D. Alexander for help with Cs-corrected TEM (Titan Themis). We thank S. Marion and P. Leburton for their careful reading of our manuscript and for the helpful comments. Device fabrication was partially carried out at the EPFL Center for Micro/Nanotechnology (CMi).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Feng, J., Liu, K., Graf, M. et al. Observation of ionic Coulomb blockade in nanopores. Nature Mater 15, 850–855 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4607
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