Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

15,000 beams of light

02.08.2010
Pens that write with light offer low-cost, rapid nanofabrication capabilities

One Chicago skyline is dazzling enough. Now imagine 15,000 of them.

A Northwestern University research team has done just that -- drawing 15,000 identical skylines with tiny beams of light using an innovative nanofabrication technology called beam-pen lithography (BPL).

Details of the new method, which could do for nanofabrication what the desktop printer has done for printing and information transfer, will be published Aug. 1 by the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The Northwestern technology offers a means to rapidly and inexpensively make and prototype circuits, optoelectronics and medical diagnostics and promises many other applications in the electronics, photonics and life sciences industries.

"It's all about miniaturization," said Chad A. Mirkin, George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and director of Northwestern's International Institute for Nanotechnology. "Rapid and large-scale transfer of information drives the world. But conventional micro- and nanofabrication tools for making structures are very expensive. We are trying to change that with this new approach to photolithography and nanopatterning."

Using beam-pen lithography, the researchers patterned 15,000 replicas of the Chicago skyline (featuring the Willis Tower and the John Hancock Center) simultaneously in about half an hour. Fifteen thousand tiny pens deposit the skylines over square centimeters of space. Conventional nanopatterning technologies, such as electron-beam lithography, allow one to make similarly small structures but are inherently low throughput and do not allow one to do large-area nanofabrication.

Each skyline pattern is made up of 182 dots, with each dot approximately 500 nanometers in diameter, like each pen tip. The time of light exposure for each dot was 20 seconds. The current method allows researchers to make structures as small as 150 nanometers, but refinements of the pen architecture likely will increase resolution to below 100 nanometers. (Although not reported in the paper, the researchers have created an array of 11 million pens in an area only a few centimeters square.)

Beam-pen lithography is the third type of "pen" in Mirkin's nanofabrication arsenal. He developed polymer-pen lithography (PPL) in 2008 and Dip-Pen Nanolithography (DPN) in 1999, both of which deliver chemical materials to a surface and have since been commercialized into research-grade nanofabrication tools that are now used in 23 countries around the world.

Like PPL, beam-pen lithography uses an array of tiny pens made of a polymer to print patterns over large areas with nanoscopic through macroscopic resolution. But instead of using an "ink" of molecules, BPL draws patterns using light on a light-sensitive material.

Each pen is in the shape of a pyramid, with the point as its tip. The researchers coat the pyramids with a very thin layer of gold and then remove a tiny amount of gold from each tip. The large open tops of the pyramids (the back side of the array) are exposed to light, and the gold-plated pyramids channel the light to the tips. A fine beam of light comes from each tip, where the gold was removed, exposing the light-sensitive material at each point. This allows the researchers to print patterns with great precision and ease.

"Another advantage is that we don't have to use all the pens at once -- we can shut some off and turn on others," said Mirkin, who also is professor of medicine and professor of materials science and engineering. "Because the tops of the pyramids are on the microscale, we can control each individual tip."

Beam-pen lithography could lead to the development of a desktop printer of sorts for nanofabrication, giving individual researchers a great deal of control of their work.

"Such an instrument would allow researchers at universities and in the electronics industry around the world to rapidly prototype -- and possibly produce -- high-resolution electronic devices and systems right in the lab," Mirkin said. "They want to test their patterns immediately, not have to wait for a third-party to produce prototypes, which is what happens now."

The title of the Nature Nanotechnology paper is "Beam-pen Nanolithography." In addition to Mirkin, other authors of the paper are Fengwei Huo, Gengfeng Zheng, Xing Liao, Louise R. Giam, Jinan Chai, Xiaodong Chen and Wooyoung Shim, all from Northwestern.

Megan Fellman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>