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Self-Assembling Nano-Electronics Turn a Corner

 

The directed self-assembly process can produce large, virtually perfect arrays of bent lines at the nanoscale. Such arrays could form the basis of nanoscale electronic devices.

Credit: Mark Stoykovich and Paul Nealey

June 2, 2005

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have taken another big step toward complex, nanoscale electronic devices that can be directed to assemble themselves automatically—a development that would allow manufacturers to mass-produce "nanochips" having circuit elements only a few molecules across, roughly 10 times smaller than the features in current-generation chips.

Writing in the June 3 issue of the journal Science , UW chemical engineer Paul Nealey and his colleagues describe how carefully chosen mixtures of polymers can be made to assemble themselves into nanoscale patterns that  turn corners and exhibit other complex geometries. Their approach builds upon a similar technique they demonstrated two years ago, using a simpler mix of polymers that could self-assemble only into regular, straight-line patterns of stripes.

The researchers carried out their work at the university's new Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center on Templated Synthesis and Assembly at the Nanoscale, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

For more information, see the University of Wisconsin News Release .

-NSF-

Left to its own devices, the "block copolymer" mix used by the University of Wisconsin group will congeal into a disordered pattern resembling a fingerprint (left). But the directed assembly process can transform that pattern into highly ordered stripes or bends (right). These well-aligned geometries are commonly used in the nanofabrication of integrated circuits and microelectronic devices.

Credit: Mark Stoykovich and Paul Nealey

 

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This story has been adapted from a news release -
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