American scientists have developed a revolutionary nanotechnology called Beam Lithography Pen.
The new method enables fast and inexpensive production of electric circuits prototypes, medical diagnosis and a number of other activities that will surely find application in in electronics, photonics and other natural sciences.
Chad Mirkin, Director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University, believes that the world is driven by fast transfer of large volumes of information. But the conventional micro-and nanoinstruments for manufacturing nanostructures are very expensive. “That is what we tried to change,” he says.
The main proof of the effectiveness of the method is 15 thousand silhouettes of the Chicago skyline, created in half an hour on a square centimeter.
Each “image” consists of 182 points of about 500 nanometers in diameter (like the tip of the fountain pen). Point illumination time is 20 seconds. The current method allows researchers to create “pens” of 150 nm in size, but in the near future, the resolution is likely to be reduced to 100 nm. An array of a few square centimeters including 11 million “pens” has already been built.
This is the third technology developed by Chad Mirkin. In 1999, he invented the dip-pen nanolithography, DPN, and in 2008 – polymer-pen lithography, PPL. These technologies have already taken up in 23 countries. The major difference of the new technology from the PPL is that it is uses light instead of “ink” molecules.
Each “pen” represents a pyramid, completely coated with a layer of gold except for the top. Light is shed the foundation of the pen to its top and on to a light-sensitive material. The simplicity of this approach is that nanoscale is only the top of the pyramid. This allows you to easily manage nanoprocesses without leaving the boundaries of the microworld.
In the future, technology may lead to the creation of desktop nanoprinters, who will turn nanoindustry upside-down just like ordinary printer has done with our everyday life.