An MIT device that makes the world’s most precise rulers—with “ticks” only a few hundred billionths of a meter apart—could impact fields from the manufacture of computer chips to space physics.
MIT’s Nanoruler was used to create parallel lines and spaces only 400 billionths of a meter apart (the diameter of a human hair is about 250 times larger) across this silicon wafer. The wafer is 12 inches in diameter.
PHOTO COURTESY / RALF HEILMANN
The Nanoruler is 10 to 1,000 times faster and more precise than other methods for patterning parallel lines and spaces (known collectively as gratings) across large surfaces more than 12 inches in diameter. Such large surfaces are key to a number of applications involving gratings, such as larger wafers for the production of computer chips and higher-resolution space telescopes.
“Patterning gratings with precise control across large areas has bedeviled labs around the world for a long time, despite great efforts,” said Mark L. Schattenburg (Ph.D. 1984), leader of the team and director of MIT’s Space Nanotechnology Laboratory in the Center for Space Research (CSR).
Elizabeth A. Thomson | MIT
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