In the time it takes to read this sentence, your fingernail will have grown one nanometer. Thats one-billionth of a meter and it represents the scale at which electronics must be built if the march toward miniaturization is to continue.
Reporting in the June 3 issue of the Journal Science, an international team of researchers shows how control over materials on this tiny scale can be extended to create complex patterns important in the production of nano-electronics.
About two years ago, a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Paul Nealey, demonstrated a lithographic technique for creating patterns in the chemistry of polymeric materials used as templates for nano-manufacturing. They deposited a film of block copolymers on a chemically patterned surface such that the molecules arranged themselves to replicate the underlying pattern without imperfections.
That technique works well for creating templates that are neatly ordered in periodic arrays, explains Nealey, who directs the NSF-funded Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center. "But one of the challenges of nanofabrication is integrating these self-assembling materials, that naturally form periodic structures, into existing manufacturing strategies," he says.
Paul Nealey | EurekAlert!
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