New technique shrinks size of circuitry used in nanotechnology devices

April 17th, 2009 - 5:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 17 (ANI): A University of Colorado at Boulder team, US, has developed a new method of shrinking the size of circuitry used in nanotechnology devices like computer chips and solar cells by using two separate colors of light.

Like current methods in the nanoengineering field, one color of light inscribes a pattern on a substrate, according to CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Robert McLeod of the electrical, computer and energy engineering department.

But, the new system developed by McLeod’s team uses a second color to “erase” the edges of the pattern, resulting in much smaller structures.

“The team used tightly focused beams of blue light to record lines and dots thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair into patterned lithography on a substrate,” said McLeod.

The researchers then “chopped off the edges” of the lines using a halo of ultraviolet light, trimming the width of the lines significantly.

“We are essentially drawing a line with a marker on a nanotechnology scale and then erasing its edges,” said McLeod.

The method offers potential new approaches in the search for ways to shrink transistor circuitry, a process that drives the global electronic market that is pursuing smaller, more powerful microchips, he added.

For the project, McLeod and his team used a tabletop laser to project tightly focused beams of visible blue light onto liquid molecules known as monomers.

A chemical reaction initiated a bonding of the monomers into a plastic-like polymer solid.

If the beam was focused in one place, it inscribed a small solid dot. If the beam was moving the focus through the material, it created a thin thread, or line.

The researchers then added a second ultraviolet laser focused into a halo, or donut, which surrounded the blue light.

The special monomer formulation was designed to be inhibited by the UV light, shutting down its transformation from a liquid to a solid.

This “halo of inhibition” prevented the edges of the spot or line from developing, resulting in a much finer final structure.

According to McLeod, the new technology has the potential to lead to the construction of a variety of nanotechnology devices, including “nanomotors”.

“We now have a set of new tools. We believe this is a new way to do nanotechnology,” he said. (ANI)

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