EVANSTON, Ill. -- In a paper to be published in the June 9 issue of the journal Science, researchers at Northwestern University demonstrate an eight-pen nanoplotter capable of simultaneously creating eight identical patterns drawn with tiny lines of molecular ink. Each line is only 30 molecules wide and one molecule high.
This breakthrough transforms dip-pen nanolithography (Science, Oct. 15, 1999) from a serial process into a parallel process, paving the way to making it competitive with other optical and stamping lithographic methods used for patterning large areas on metal and semiconductor substrates, including silicon wafers.
"Our multiple-pen, parallel process nanoplotter gives the nanotechnologist a powerful new tool," said Chad Mirkin, George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry. "The miniaturization of the plotter writing technique opens up exciting avenues of doing things differently, better and on a much smaller scale than they are today."
Mirkin and fellow author Seunghun Hong, a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern, report that the nanoplotter could be equipped with a significantly greater number of pens than a mere eight. The technology should be able to support hundreds, or even a thousand, of tiny nanopens working together at the same time to miniaturize electronic circuits, pattern precise arrays of organic and biomolecules such as DNA and put thousands of different medical sensors on an area much tinier than the head of a pin.
A major limitation of other scanning probe lithography (SPL) methods is that contact between the tip and the substrate (the writing surface) changes the line width and quality of each patterned structure. Therefore, each tip requires a separate feedback system in order to control each line, which means a large amount of expensive and complex instrumentation.
Mirkin's parallel nanoplotter, however, produces consistent line widths with multiple pens
and requires only one feedback system f
Contact: Megan Fellman