Nanopantography uses microlenses placed on a substrate (the surface that is being written upon) to divide a single ion beam into billions of smaller beams, each of which writes a feature on the substrate for nanotech device production.
A beam of ions is then directed at the substrate. When the wafer is tilted, the desired pattern is replicated simultaneously in billions of many closely spaced holes over an area, limited only by the size of the ion beam.
“The nanostructures that you can form out of that focusing can be written simultaneously over the whole wafer in predetermined positions,” Economou said. “Without our technique, nanotech devices can be made with electron-beam writing or with a scanning tunneling microscope. However, the throughput, or fabrication speed, is extremely slow and is not suitable for mass production or for producing nanostructures of any desired shape and material.”
With the right ions and gaseous elements, the nanotech fabrication method can be used to etch a variety of materials and virtually any shape with nanosize dimensions. A standard printing technique that can create lenses measuring 100 nanometers wide could be used to draw features just one nanometer wide if combined with nanopantography.
“We expect nanopantography to become a viable method for rapid, large-scale fabrication,” Donnelly said.
Economou, Donnelly and Ruchhoeft have been working on the technology for four years. UH filed the patent application in December 2006. They hope the technology can become commercially available in five to 10 years and expect it to become a viable method for large-scale production.