Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Chicago and Hanyang University in Korea have combined advanced ultra-high resolution inkjet technology with self-assembling block copolymers to increase the resolution of intricate nanostructure fabrication down to 15 nanometers from 200.
The use of block copolymers helps mitigate the limitations of inkjet printing, which can typically only achieve a resolution down to 100 to 200 nanometers. Being able to create nanostructures from soft materials could potentially help create new classes of electronics and sensors.
First, engineers create a topographical or chemical pattern using the electrohydrodynamic printing (e-jet) processes, then place a block copolymer on top of it, which uses the printed template to form patterns at a higher resolution.
“This invention, to use inkjet printing to deposit different block copolymer films with high spatial resolution over the substrate, is highly enabling in terms of device design and manufacturing in that you can realize different dimension structures all in one layer,” said Paul Nealey, the Brady W. Dougan Professor in Molecular Engineering at University of Chicago. “Moreover, the different dimension patterns may actually be directed to assemble with either the same or different templates in different regions.”
The research was published in the September issue of Nature Nanotechnology.