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Content archived on 2024-05-27

Assembler Tool For Molecular Structures


We propose to develop a novel nanolithography technique, based on an ultra-high resolution scanning shadow mask, called Nanostencil. The technique eliminates processing steps involved in conventional resist-based lithography, and their related sources of contamination. It provides a fast prototyping tool for new structural nanodevice design, including nanopatterning of biomolecules, semiconductors, metals and insulators on arbitrarily structured surfaces. The technique involves a movable sample exposed to a collimated molecular beam through pinhole-like apertures in a cantilever or membrane. Scanning the sample allows arbitrary and complex patterns to be made. We will fabricate a variety of model structures and materials and characterise them with state-of-the-art methods, such as scanning probe microscopes. The project involves silicon micromachining, nanotechnology, ultra-high vacuum techniques, and surface biochemistry.

Investigate the potential of a novel method for the fabrication of molecular structures on the nanometer scale which eliminates conventional processing steps by using a resistless lithography technique. Provide a general-purpose nano-scale patterning and fast prototyping tool for arbitrary material definition, including (bio)chemicals and designer molecules, semiconductors, metals and insulators on arbitrary surfaces (including non-flat substrates). Study/analyse nano-structures by various means (including scanning probe microscopy). Create a commercial product and SME for general purpose prototyping and small scale production of nanoscale devices including electronic, nanomagnetic and biomolecular analysis.

In the first phase of the ATOMS project a SME will be subcontracted to deliver samples of prototype membranes in which fine apertures are processed by ion or laser beam. The devices will be made available to the consortium to gather experimental experience in an early project phase. Nanostencils in the form of a cantilever/membrane with integrated functionality (microactuators) will be fabricated by microsystem technology. The interaction of deposited material with the stencil surface will be optimised using surface derivatisation techniques. This allows also fine-tuning the aperture size by controlled layer growth. The nanostencil and a four-source deposition system will be incorporated into an existing UHV/AFM chamber. Existing methodology (soft/hardware) will be further developed to control the movement of the mask so as to build up complex device structures. This control will need to be linked into the evaporation so that any one of the source evaporants can be chosen. An existing combination of e-beam and optical lithography will be used to pre-pattern substrates so that connection to the outside world can be effected. Complex device structures will then be fabricated into this pre-patterned structure, such as Single Electron Transistor, Magnetic nanostructures, and Molecular Structures. It also includes directed self-assembly of molecules at nano-electrodes. The fabricated nanodevices will be (post)processed by the project partners. One example is the integration of biomaterials, e.g. enzymes, antibodies or DNA, with metallic nanoparticle patterns. The resulting biomaterial functionalised patterns are used as catalytic interfaces for the assembly of complex nanostructures, and as nanoscale sensing domains. Atomically clean nanostructures are fabricated to study e.g. Coulomb blockade effects. (In-situ) characterisation of fabricated nanodevices is done using state-of-art methods such as scanning probe microscope.


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