Focused ion beam (FIB) technology is widely used to fabricate nanopores in solid-state membranes. These nanopores have desirable thermomechanical properties for applications such as high-throughput DNA sequencing. Using large scale molecular dynamics simulations of the FIB nanopore formation process, we show that there is a threshold ion delivery rate above which the mechanism underlying nanopore formation changes. At low rates nanopore formation is slow, with the rate proportional to the ion flux and therefore limited by the sputter rate of the target material. However, at higher fluxes nanopores form via a thermally dominated process, consistent with an explosive boiling mechanism. In this case, mass is rapidly rearranged via bubble growth and coalescence, much more quickly than would occur during sputtering. This mechanism has the potential to greatly speed up nanopore formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number035303
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 24 2014


  • atomistic simulations
  • focused ion beam simulation
  • nanopore fabrication, explosive boiling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Materials Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'A FIB induced boiling mechanism for rapid nanopore formation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this