Photolithographic fabrication of microapertures with well-defined, three-dimensional geometries for suspended lipid membrane studies

Christopher A. Baker, Leonard K. Bright, Craig A. Aspinwall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Robust and high-density biosensors incorporating suspended lipid membranes require microfabricated apertures that can be readily integrated into complex analysis systems. Apertures with well-defined, three-dimensional geometries enable the formation of suspended lipid membranes and facilitate reduced aperture size compared to vertical-walled apertures. Unfortunately, existing methods of producing apertures with well-defined, three-dimensional geometries are based on complex and expensive fabrication procedures, some of which yield apertures in excessively fragile thin-film materials. Here, we describe a microfabrication method utilizing incline and rotate lithography that achieves sloped-wall microapertures in SU-8 polymer substrates with precision control of the aperture diameter, substrate thickness, and wall angle. This approach is simple, is of low cost, and is readily scaled up to allow highly reproducible parallel fabrication. The effect of the incident angle of UV exposure and the size of photomask features on the aperture geometry were investigated, yielding aperture diameters as small as 7 μm and aperture wall angles ranging from 8 to 36 measured from the normal axis. Black lipid membranes were suspended across the apertures and showed normalized conductance values of 0.02-0.05 pS μm-2 and breakdown voltages of 400-600 mV. The functionality of the resulting sloped-wall microapertures was validated via measurement of reconstituted α-hemolysin activity and the voltage-gated channel activity of alamethicin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9078-9086
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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