Nanoskiving: A New Method to Produce Arrays of Nanostructures

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Entry by Pichet Adstamongkonkul, AP 225, Fall 2011

Reference:

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


Summary

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, with the limitations of cost, availability, and material constraints. The master stamp, however, can be created from those conventional procedures.

Methodology

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.

Figure A.jpg

Considerations

Embedding 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. poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA), polystyrene, epoxy-based resins)
  • Have flexibility to allow sectioning at an angle of almost vertical
  • Must provide support to the embedded material
  • Must be removed easily and quickly
  • 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;

  • Metal
  • Physical vapor deposition
  • Chemical vapor deposition
  • Atomic layer deposition
  • Organic materials - i.e. conductive and electroactive polymers
  • (best method) Spin-coating