Doctor of Science, University of Notre Dame (2018)
Master of Science, Fudan University (2014)
Bachelor of Engineering, Sichuan University (2011)
Single Entity Electrochemistry in Nanopore Electrode Arrays: Ion Transport Meets Electron Transfer in Confined Geometries.
Accounts of chemical research
Electrochemical measurements conducted in confined volumes provide a powerful and direct means to address scientific questions at the nexus of nanoscience, biotechnology, and chemical analysis. How are electron transfer and ion transport coupled in confined volumes and how does understanding them require moving beyond macroscopic theories? Also, how do these coupled processes impact electrochemical detection and processing? We address these questions by studying a special type of confined-volume architecture, the nanopore electrode array, or NEA, which is designed to be commensurate in size with physical scaling lengths, such as the Debye length, a concordance that offers performance characteristics not available in larger scale structures. The experiments described here depend critically on carefully constructed nanoscale architectures that can usefully control molecular transport and electrochemical reactivity. We begin by considering the experimental constraints that guide the design and fabrication of zero-dimensional nanopore arrays with multiple embedded electrodes. These zero-dimensional structures are nearly ideal for exploring how permselectivity and unscreened ion migration can be combined to amplify signals and improve selectivity by enabling highly efficient redox cycling. Our studies also highlight the benefits of arrays, in that molecules escaping from a single nanopore are efficiently captured by neighboring pores and returned to the population of active redox species being measured, benefits that arise from coupling ion accumulation and migration. These tools for manipulating redox species are well-positioned to explore single molecule and single particle electron transfer events through spectroelectrochemistry, studies which are enabled by the electrochemical zero-mode waveguide (ZMW), a special hybrid nanophotonic/nanoelectronic architecture in which the lower ring electrode of an NEA nanopore functions both as a working electrode to initiate electron transfer reactions and as the optical cladding layer of a ZMW. While the work described here is largely exploratory and fundamental, we believe that the development of NEAs will enable important applications that emerge directly from the unique coupled transport and electron-transfer capabilities of NEAs, including in situ molecular separation and detection with external stimuli, redox-based electrochemical rectification in individually encapsulated nanopores, and coupled sorters and analyzers for nanoparticles.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.accounts.9b00543
View details for PubMedID 31990518