Navigation Links
Princeton engineers develop low-cost recipe for patterning microchips

Creating ultrasmall grooves on microchips -- a key part of many modern technologies -- is about to become as easy as making a sandwich, using a new process invented by Princeton engineers.

The simple, low-cost technique results in the self-formation of periodic lines, or gratings, separated by as few as 60 nanometers -- less than one ten-thousandth of a millimeter -- on microchips. Features of this size have many uses in optical, biological and electronic devices, including the alignment of liquid crystals in displays. The researchers will publish their findings Sept. 2 in the online version of Nature Nanotechnology.

Its like magic, said electrical engineer Stephen Chou, the Joseph C. Elgin Professor of Engineering. This is a fundamentally different way of making nanopatterns.

The process, called fracture-induced structuring, is as easy as one-two-three. First, a thin polymer film is painted onto a rigid plate, such as a silicon wafer. Then, a second plate is placed on top, creating a polymer sandwich that is heated to ensure adhesion. Finally, the two plates are pried apart. As the film fractures, it automatically breaks into two complementary sets of nanoscale gratings, one on each plate. The distance between the lines, called the period, is four times the film thickness.

The ease of creating these lines is in marked contrast to traditional fabrication methods, which typically use a beam of electrons, ions, or a mechanical tip to draw the lines into a surface. These methods are serial processes which are extremely slow and therefore only suitable for areas one square millimeter or smaller. Other techniques suitable for larger areas have difficulties achieving small grating periods or producing a high yield, or they require complex and expensive processes. Fracture-induced structuring is not only simple and fast, but it enables patterning over a much larger area. The researchers have already demonstrated the ability of the technique to create gratings over several square centimeters, and the patterning of much large areas should be possible with further optimization of the technique.

Its remarkable and counterintuitive that fracturing creates these regular patterns, said chemical engineering professor and dean of Princetons graduate school William Russel. Russel and his graduate student Leonard Pease III teamed with Chou and his graduate students Paru Deshpande and Ying Wang to develop the technique.

A patent application has been filed on the process, which the researchers say is economically feasible for large-scale use in industry. The gratings generated by the fracturing process also could be used in conjunction with existing patterning methods. For example, the nanoimprinting method invented by Chou in the 1990s can use the gratings generated by fracture-induced structuring to create a mold that enables mass duplication of patterns with high precision at low cost.

As with many scientific discoveries, the fracture-induced structuring process was happened upon accidentally. Graduate students in the Chou and Russel groups were trying to use instabilities in various molten polymers (in essence, melted plastic) to create patterns when they discovered instead that fracturing a solid polymer film can generate the gratings automatically. The team seized upon this finding and established the optimal conditions for grating formation.

Next, the group plans to explore the fundamental science behind the process and investigate the interplays of various forces at such a small scale, according to Chou.

And, we want to push the limit and see how small we can go, he said.

Contact: Hilary Parker
Princeton University, Engineering School

Related biology news :

1. Duke engineers develop new 3-D cardiac imaging probe
2. Engineers improve plastics potential for use in implants by linking it to biological material
3. MIT engineers an anti-cancer smart bomb
4. Scientists and engineers apply natures design to human problems
5. Engineers discover why toucan beaks are models of lightweight strength
6. Bioengineers create stable networks of blood vessels
7. Rice bioengineers pioneer techniques for knee repair
8. UW-Madison engineers squeeze secrets from proteins
9. MIT engineers probe spiders polymer art
10. Boston University biomedical engineers win major grant for pursuit of the $1,000 Genome
11. A much-needed shot in the arm for HIV vaccine development
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)...  The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) policy group ... Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options for the Future," which ... Services guidance for synthetic biology providers has worked since ... --> --> Synthetic biology promises great ... pose unique biosecurity threats. It now is easier than ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or ... the growing mobile commerce market and creator of ... leading marketplace to discover and buy innovative technology ... on StackSocial for this holiday season.   ... a biometric authentication company focused on the growing ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... Calif. , Oct. 27, 2015 Synaptics Inc. ... solutions, today announced that Google has adopted the Synaptics ... touch controller solutions to power its newest flagship smartphones, ... by Huawei. --> ... like Google to provide strategic collaboration in the joint ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... InSphero AG, ... 3D cell culture models, has promoted Melanie Aregger to serve as Chief Operating Officer. ... Aregger served on the management team and was promoted to Head of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - ProMetic Life ... announced today that Mr. Pierre Laurin , President and ... presentation at the upcoming Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual ... Hotel, on December 1-2, 2015. st , ... for one-on-one meetings throughout the day. The presentation will be ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Va. , Nov. 24, 2015 ... focused on discovering drugs for metabolic disorders, announced ... to its Board of Directors (BOD). Mr. ... officer of Human Genome Sciences (HGS), and also ... Organization. Jim Powers , Chairman and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... NEW YORK , November 24, 2015 ... in a European healthcare ... in which the companies will work closely together in identifying ... of unmet medical need. The collaboration is underpinned by a ... LSP fund. This is the first investment by Bristol-Myers Squibb ...
Breaking Biology Technology: