comment on this article

Bubble-pen lithography allows researchers to create nanodevices

Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a device and technique called bubble-pen lithography, which can handle nanoparticles, tiny pieces of gold, silicon and other materials used in nanomanufacturing, without damaging them. The method uses microbubbles to inscribe nanoparticles onto a surface.

Using microbubbles, the technique allows researchers to quickly, gently and precisely handle the tiny particles to more easily build tiny machines, biomedical sensors, optical computers, solar panels and other devices. This advanced control is key to harnessing the properties of the nanoparticles.

Using their bubble-pen device, the researchers focus a laser underneath a sheet of gold nanoislands to generate a hotspot that creates a microbubble out of vaporised water. The bubble attracts and captures a nanoparticle through a combination of gas pressure, thermal and surface tension, surface adhesion and convection. The laser then steers the microbubble to move the nanoparticle to a site on the surface. When the laser is turned off, the microbubble disappears, leaving the particle on the surface. If necessary, the researchers can expand or reduce the size of the microbubble by increasing or decreasing the laser beam's power.

"The ability to control a single nanoparticle and fix it to a substrate without damaging it could open up great opportunities for the creation of new materials and devices," assistant professor, Yuebing Zheng said. "The capability of arranging the particles will help to advance a class of materials, known as metamaterials, with properties and functions that do not exist in current natural materials."

According to Prof Zheng, bubble-pen lithography can leverage a design software program in the same way as a 3D printer, so it can deposit nanoparticles in real time in a pre-programmed pattern or design. The researchers were able to write the UT Austin Longhorn symbol and create a dome shape out of nanoparticle beads.

In comparison to other existing lithography methods, bubble-pen lithography has several advantages, Prof Zheng says. First, the technique can be used to test prototypes and ideas for devices and materials more quickly. Second, the technique has the potential for large-scale, low-cost manufacturing of nanomaterials and devices. Other lithography techniques require more resources and a clean room environment.

Prof Zheng hopes to advance bubble-pen lithography by developing a multiple-beam processing technique for industrial-level production of nanomaterials and nanodevices. He is also planning to develop a portable version of the technique that works like a mobile phone for use in prototyping.

Author
Tom Austin-Morgan

Comment on this article


This material is protected by MA Business copyright See Terms and Conditions. One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not. For multiple copies contact the sales team.

What you think about this article:


Add your comments

Name
 
Email
 
Comments
 

Your comments/feedback may be edited prior to publishing. Not all entries will be published.
Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Related Articles

Graphene scaffold

While lithium metal-based batteries are attractive in theory, practical ...

Driving innovation

Oxford University has a reputation not only as an internationally recognised ...

Careless whispers

Chris Edwards explores how timing, EMI and even sound can provide attackers ...

Power management IC

A power management IC, known as the ARG82800, has been launched by Allegro ...

HES conference

The High-End Sensors (HES) international conference will be held between April ...

MicroTech 2018

On April 9-10, 2018 the MicroTech exhibition will be held at the Royal Holloway ...

Get to market faster

A quick look at using Vicor's PFM and AIM in VIA packaging for your AC to Point ...

Tech trends

Last year was a busy one for technology and 2018 is unlikely to be any ...

A winning team

It’s been more than two years since Mark Larson stepped down as president and ...

Shaping the future

Alexander Everke, the CEO of ams, started his career in the semiconductor ...