EVANSTON, Ill. --- A new low-cost, high-resolution tool is primed to revolutionize how nanotechnology is produced from the desktop, according to a new study by Northwestern University researchers.
Currently, most nanofabrication is done in multibillion-dollar centralized facilities called foundries. This is similar to printing documents in centralized printing shops. Consider, however, how the desktop printer revolutionized the transfer of information by allowing individuals to inexpensively print documents as needed. This paradigm shift is why there has been community-wide ambition in the field of nanoscience to create a desktop nanofabrication tool.
"With this breakthrough, we can construct very high-quality materials and devices, such as processing semiconductors over large areas, and we can do it with an instrument slightly larger than a printer," said Chad A. Mirkin, senior author of the study and a world-renowned pioneer in the field of nanoscience.
Mirkin is the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of medicine, chemical and biological engineering, biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering. He also is the director of Northwestern's International Institute for Nanotechnology.
The study will be published July 19 in the journal Nature Communications.
The tool Mirkin's team has created produces working devices and structures at the nanoscale level in a matter of hours, right at the point of use. It is the nanofabrication equivalent of a desktop printer.
Without requiring millions of dollars in instrumentation costs, the tool is poised to prototype a diverse range of functional structures, from gene chips to protein arrays to building patterns that control how stem cells differentiate to making electronic circuits.
"Instead of needing to have access to millions of dollars, in some cases billions of dollar
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