Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Shedding light for miniaturisation

A German innovation employs an atomic force microscope to form the shape of the surface of photosensitive materials with resolution within sub-wavelength range.
Shedding light for miniaturisation
Integrated optical devices can find many applications in fields ranging from telecommunications and information processing to remote sensing and data storage. These devices originate from patterned refractive index modulations and are produced via multi-step processing comprising complex chemical and/or mechanical procedures.

Alternatively, exposure of photosensitive materials to optical radiation results in a permanent change of refraction properties that can be accomplished using a simple optical process. This allows the production of complex devices such as waveguides, integrated optical interconnects, various purpose optical elements, sensors, and optical data storage.

The newly developed process uses locally amplified light rays for mass shifting in photosensitive materials ending up in a specific surface structure on the material. The process exploits a local increase of the intensity of an electromagnetic field applied on the vicinity of a small-scale object.

Suitable objects involve metals and semiconductors including platinum and silicon. Unlike most commonly used methods, this novelty uses light technology without contact for mass shifting. More specifically, a modified standard atomic force microscope allows opto-mechanical stimulation, detection and control.

Depending on the wavelength, the material and the object's geometry, the process can lead to an amplification factor of the order of 1000. Moreover, structured surfaces can be derived with a resolution of 10nm or less Various sorts of collaboration are sought with industrial partners and research institutes engaged in spectrometry, lithography, data storage.
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