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15,000 beams of light
Date:8/1/2010

f 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 industr
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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