NY, --- August 28, 2005 --- At
the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National
Laboratory, scientists have developed a new chemical "writing" technique
that can create lines of "ink" only a few tens of
nanometers, or billionths of a meter, in width.
"Our new 'writing' method opens up many new possibilities for creating nanoscale
patterns and features on surfaces. This may have a significant impact on developing
nanotechnologies that involve nanopatterning, such as molecular electronics --
tiny circuits built using single organic molecules," said Brookhaven Lab physicist
Yuguang Cai. Cai will discuss the method at the 230th American Chemical Society
national meeting in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, August 28, at 12 p.m. in room
8-9 of the Renaissance Hotel.
Cai and his colleagues call the technique "Electro Pen Nanolithography" (EPN).
They sweep a very thin metal tip across a film of organic molecules. The tip
carries an electric voltage, which causes the region under it to "oxidize," or
undergo a reaction that changes the chemical makeup of the film. In a single
sweep of the pen, organic "ink" molecules are transferred from the tip to the
oxidized regions, creating an extremely thin line.
Each line is just one molecule thick, but the researchers can produce multilayered
patterns by writing over the existing pattern. This gives them the ability
to create three-dimensional nanoscale "landscapes." Moreover, by turning off
the voltage, they can use the tip as a tiny "scanner" to "read" and create
an image of the pattern just written.
With further research, EPN may have the ability to "write" biomolecular materials,
such as proteins, onto surfaces. These nanoscale protein deposits might, for
example, serve as biosensors.
This research is supported by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences within the
U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
About Brookhaven National Laboratory:
One of the ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office
of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory
conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences,
as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also
builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university,
industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for
DOE's Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability
company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory
facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
For more information, please visit www.bnl.gov
Mona S. Rowe