New method promises easier nanoscale manufacturing

1 min read

A way to precisely pattern nanomaterials has been discovered by scientists at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory that they claim could open a new path to the next generation of everyday electronic devices.

According to the team, the research is expected to make nanomaterials easily available for use in everything from LED displays to cellular phones to photodetectors and solar cells.

"This is a step needed to move quantum dots and many other nanomaterials from proof-of-concept experiments to real technology we can use," said Professor Dmitri Talapin at UChicago.

Researchers claim manufacturing devices out of nanomaterials has been difficult and that photolithography, currently used to make transistors, is limited to only a few materials.

To solve this problem, they developed a new technique, called DOLFIN, which is said to make different nanomaterials directly into an ‘ink’ in a process that bypasses the need to lay down a polymer stencil.

The team carefully designed chemical coatings for individual particles. These coatings are said to react with light, so if light is shined through a patterned mask, it transfers the pattern directly into the layer of nanoparticles below – wiring them into useful devices.

"We found the quality of the patterns was comparable to those made with state-of-the-art techniques," said Yuanyuan Wang, postdoctoral researcher at UChicago. "It can be used with a wide range of materials, including semiconductors, metals, oxides or magnetic materials – all commonly used in electronics manufacturing."