New nano patterning technique offers hope for making large scale patterns with individual molecules
The ability to pattern materials at ever-smaller sizes using photolithography is driving advances in nanotechnology. When the feature size of materials is reduced to the nanoscale, individual atoms and molecules can be manipulated to dramatically alter material properties. So far the highest-resolution mask-based photolithography can generate patterns down to around 20 nm. Extreme ultraviolet – a next-generation lithography technology – can deliver even smaller pattern sizes. However, the secondary electron blur from extreme-ultraviolet photons hinders the creation of single molecule patterns.
The EU-funded Nanolace project will demonstrate a breakthrough nanolithography technique: Mask-based atom lithography. Two approaches will be pursued: Solid-state masks and optical masks. If successful the project will be the first to use Bose-einstein condensates for lithograpy and the first to demonstrate single-nanometer resolution mask based lithography, revolutionising the world of micro and quantum electronics.