David Pacchioli
January 01, 2002
gray and white spores

Stephen J. Fonash, Kunkle chair professor of engineering sciences, has discovered a silicon thin film that may one day help doctors screen for diseases.

What's unique is the new film's structure: clusters of rod-like columns only 10 nanometers (about 50 atoms) across, standing on end. The porous surface made up of all those column-ends, Fonash says, "acts like an English muffin, with lots of nooks and crannies" small enough to catch single molecules. By adjusting growing conditions, these nanopores can be tailored to grab some molecules and not others. Such selectivity could be used to ferret out blood proteins indicating early-stage cancer, heart disease, and other conditions.

Stephen J. Fonash, Ph.D., is Kunkle chair professor of engineering sciences, College of Engineering, 189 Materials research Institute; 814-865-4931;

Last Updated January 01, 2002