Disclosed are then inorganic membranes having a defined topography that includes pores having a defined diameter of nanometer and sub-nanometer diameter. The thin membranes are resistant to protein denaturing agents, and may be employed in analytical and clinical methods for identifying single amino acid residues within the sequence of a protein and the pores are other than NspA pores. Methods for making a thin inorganic membrane with nanopore and sub-nanopore topography and conical cone structure are also disclosed. The thin inorganic membrane may be comprised of any denaturant-resistant materials, such as silicon nitride. A method for manufaacturing the thin inorganic membrane with nanopores is also provided, and provides a thin surface with a defined conical topography, the nanopores being provided on the membrane surface with an electron beam sputinger technique.
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