Manufacturing Bits: March 3

Nanoimprint consortium; mystery of silicene continues; X-ray scopes.


Nanoimprint consortium
CEA-Leti has launched a nanoimprint lithography program in an effort to propel the technology in the marketplace.

The imprint program, dubbed Inspire, will focus on various and emerging non-semiconductor applications, according to Laurent Pain, patterning program manager and business development manager within the Silicon Technologies division at the French R&D organization.

“Here, there is a huge potential for applications like photovoltaics,” he said. “There is also a huge potential for micro lenses and biotech.”

CEA-Leti is still in the process of setting up partnerships in its imprint program, he said. CEA-Leti also has separate programs in multi-beam e-beam for direct-write lithography and directed self-assembly (DSA).

Mystery of silicene continues
The mystery continues to unfold for silicene. Like graphene and other 2D materials, silicene could enable futuristic chips.

Many have reported the epitaxial synthesis of silicene. But to date, there has been no report of silicene-based devices in the commercial market due to air stability issues. And recently, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has called into question the existence of silicene. The group basically debunked the material.

On the other hand, the University of Texas at Austin has devised the first transistors made of silicene.

Now, a European research project, dubbed 2D-NANOLATTICES, has made some advances in the development of silicene. In fact, the project has devised a field effect transistor (FET) from the material to operate at room temperature. The project includes Greece’s National Center for Scientific Research, Imec, KULeuven, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Universite de Provence.

In the lab, researchers embedded the material into one layer of silicon atoms. Then, they transferred the layer, grown on a silver substrate, to silicon dioxide. “Tests showed that performance of silicene is very, very good on the non-metal substrate,” said Athanasios Dimoulas, coordinator of the project.

“The fact that we have this one transistor made of just one single layer of material like silicon has not been done before and this is really something that can be described as a breakthrough. On the basis of this achievement, it could be possible to make transistors up to 100 times smaller in the vertical direction,” Dimoulas added.

X-ray scopes
Brookhaven National Laboratory has devised an X-ray microscope that could bring researchers one step closer to nanometer resolution.

X-ray microscopy is a promising technology for use in non-destructive imaging. It can be used to measure various materials in 2D and 3D.

The HXN X-ray microscope uses X-rays from the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The NSLS-II is a state-of-the-art, 3-GeV electron storage ring.

The microscope features a nanofocusing optics technology. The optics, called multilayer Laue lenses (MLL), are grown at one atomic layer at a time. MLL produces an X-ray beam that is about 10nm in size. Drift rates of ~2 nm h-1 accompanied by 13nm × 33nm imaging resolution at 11.8-keV have been reported.
The microscope provides high resolutions with high stability. It is designed to reduce thermal drifts. To accomplish that feat, the instrument requires over 20 piezo motors, which are controlled down to nanometer-scale precision.

“This instrument incorporates most recent developments in interferometric sensing, nanoscale motion, and position control. Recorded drifts of two nanometers per hour are unprecedented and set a new benchmark for X-ray microscopy systems,” said Evgeny Nazaretski, a physicist at NSLS-II, on Brookhaven’s site.

The HXN X-ray microscope will be available for user experiments later this year. Researchers hope to make the focused X-ray beam spot even smaller.

Multi-layer Laue lens module inside the vacuum chamber of the microscope installed at the Hard X-ray Nanoprobe beamline at NSLS-II. (Source: Brookhaven)

Multi-layer Laue lens module inside the vacuum chamber of the microscope installed at the Hard X-ray Nanoprobe beamline at NSLS-II. (Source: Brookhaven)

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