Nanoskiving: A New Method to Produce Arrays of Nanostructures
Entry by Pichet Adstamongkonkul, AP 225, Fall 2011
Title: Nanoskiving: A New Method to Produce Arrays of Nanostructures
Authors: Q. Xu, R. M. Rioux, M. D. Dickey, G. M. Whitesides
Journal: Accounts of chemical research, December 2008, Vol. 41, No. 12
Nanoskiving is a novel fabrication technique which combines the deposition of thin films on a master substrate, with sectioning using ultramicrotome. By this technique, one can create a pre-defined, freestanding nanostructures on nonplanar surfaces, which is challenging for the conventional top-down techniques, such as photolithography and e-beam lithography, although there are limitations of cost, availability of facilities and material. The master stamp, however, can be created from those conventional procedures.
First, an epoxy solution is deposited onto the poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) stamp, which can be wither flat or topographically patterned, and allowed to cure, forming a layer of epoxy. A nanometer-thick film of metal is then deposited on the epoxy layer by any deposition technique, and another layer of epoxy is deposited on top, resulting in an epoxy block with an embedded thin film. The block is then cut using an ultramicrotome, usually made of glass or diamond knife, producing sections with the thickness of less than 100 nm. Eventually, the sections are transferred to another solid substrate and the epoxy is removed by using oxygen plasma, leaving behind the nanostructure on the surface.
Embedded Materials Selection
The embedding materials need to have appropriate mechanical properties for sectioning process to be performed in the room temperature. Some desirable properties:
- Have large Young's modulus in order to withstand force from ultramicrotome (i.e. "brittle" materials like poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA), polystyrene, epoxy-based resins)
- Have flexibility to allow section bending at an angle <math>\sim 90^o</math> during sectioning.
- Must provide support to the embedded material
- Must be removed easily and quickly by etching
- Must adhere to the embedded material sufficiently to prevent delamination during sectioning
Embedded Material Choices
The mechanical properties of the embedded materials are also important. If the material is malleable, there won't be much damage inflicted on the material from sectioning. However, the more-brittle material would crack or even break, the problems which could be alleviated by using proper selection of knife and embedding material.
Several techniques used to deposited the material depend on the type of material to be deposited;
- Physical vapor deposition
- Chemical vapor deposition
- Atomic layer deposition
- Organic materials - i.e. conductive and electroactive polymers
- (best method) Spin-coating
Knife can be made from a pool of materials.
- Commonly made from glass or high-quality, natural diamond (more expensive)
- Glass knives are typically for one-time use, as they dull quickly
- High quality sections would require diamond knife with the radius of curvature of the sharp edge of 3-6 nm
- Diamond knives have longer durability.
- Knives can be dulled fast, if used on materials they are not suited for.