Polymer blend lithography (PBL) is a spin-coating-based technique that makes use of the purely lateral phase separation between two immiscible polymers to fabricate large area nanoscale patterns. In our earlier work (Huang et al. 2012), PBL was demonstrated for the fabrication of patterned self-assembled monolayers. Here, we report a new method based on the technique of polymer blend lithography that allows for the fabrication of metal island arrays or perforated metal films on the nanometer scale, the metal PBL. As the polymer blend system in this work, a mixture of polystyrene (PS) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), dissolved in methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is used. This system forms a purely lateral structure on the substrate at controlled humidity, which means that PS droplets are formed in a PMMA matrix, whereby both phases have direct contact both to the substrate and to the air interface. Therefore, a subsequent selective dissolution of either the PS or PMMA component leaves behind a nanostructured film which can be used as a lithographic mask. We use this lithographic mask for the fabrication of metal patterns by thermal evaporation of the metal, followed by a lift-off process. As a consequence, the resulting metal nanostructure is an exact replica of the pattern of the selectively removed polymer (either a perforated metal film or metal islands). The minimum diameter of these holes or metal islands demonstrated here is about 50 nm. Au, Pd, Cu, Cr and Al templates were fabricated in this work by metal PBL. The wavelength-selective optical transmission spectra due to the localized surface plasmonic effect of the holes in perforated Al films were investigated and compared to the respective hole diameter histograms.
localized surface plasmonic resonance; metal islands; metal nanostructures; metal polymer blend lithography (metal PBL); nano-patterned template; nanoscale discs; optical transmission; perforated metal film; polymer phase separation; poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA); polystyrene (PS); self-assembly; spin-coating; surface plasmons
We describe an atomic force microscope (AFM) for the characterization of self-sensing tunneling magnetoresistive (TMR) cantilevers. Furthermore, we achieve a large scan-range with a nested scanner design of two independent piezo scanners: a small high resolution scanner with a scan range of 5 × 5 × 5 μm3 is mounted on a large-area scanner with a scan range of 800 × 800 × 35 μm3. In order to characterize TMR sensors on AFM cantilevers as deflection sensors, the AFM is equipped with a laser beam deflection setup to measure the deflection of the cantilevers independently. The instrument is based on a commercial AFM controller and capable to perform large-area scanning directly without stitching of images. Images obtained on different samples such as calibration standard, optical grating, EPROM chip, self-assembled monolayers and atomic step-edges of gold demonstrate the high stability of the nested scanner design and the performance of self-sensing TMR cantilevers.
atomic force microscopy (AFM); magnetomechanical effects; magnetostriction; scanning probe microscopes and components
We report a novel, practical technique for the concerted, simultaneous determination of both the adhesion force of a small structure or structural unit (e.g., an individual filament, hair, micromechanical component or microsensor) to a liquid and its elastic properties. The method involves the creation and development of a liquid meniscus upon touching a liquid surface with the structure, and the subsequent disruption of this liquid meniscus upon removal. The evaluation of the meniscus shape immediately before snap-off of the meniscus allows the quantitative determination of the liquid adhesion force. Concurrently, by measuring and evaluating the deformation of the structure under investigation, its elastic properties can be determined. The sensitivity of the method is remarkably high, practically limited by the resolution of the camera capturing the process. Adhesion forces down to 10 µN and spring constants up to 2 N/m were measured. Three exemplary applications of this method are demonstrated: (1) determination of the water adhesion force and the elasticity of individual hairs (trichomes) of the floating fern Salvinia molesta. (2) The investigation of human head hairs both with and without functional surface coatings (a topic of high relevance in the field of hair cosmetics) was performed. The method also resulted in the measurement of an elastic modulus (Young’s modulus) for individual hairs of 3.0 × 105 N/cm2, which is within the typical range known for human hair. (3) Finally, the accuracy and validity of the capillary adhesion technique was proven by examining calibrated atomic force microscopy cantilevers, reproducing the spring constants calibrated using other methods.
adhesion; AFM cantilever; air layer; capillary forces; hairs; measurement; micromechanical systems; microstructures; Salvinia effect; Salvinia molesta; sensors; stiffness; superhydrophobic surfaces
Long, straight mesoscale silver wires have been fabricated from AgNO3 electrolyte via electrodeposition without the help of templates, additives, and surfactants. Although the wire growth speed is very fast due to growth under non-equilibrium conditions, the wire morphology is regular and uniform in diameter. Structural studies reveal that the wires are single-crystalline, with the  direction as the growth direction. A possible growth mechanism is suggested. Auger depth profile measurements show that the wires are stable against oxidation under ambient conditions. This unique system provides a convenient way for the study of self-organization in electrochemical environments as well as for the fabrication of highly-ordered, single-crystalline metal nanowires.
crystal growth; electrochemistry; electrodeposition; mesowires; nanoelectrochemistry; nanowires; self-organization; silver nanowires; silver nitrate; stability
Hydrophobins are amphiphilic proteins able to self-assemble at water-air interphases and are only found in filamentous fungi. In Aspergillus nidulans two hydrophobins, RodA and DewA, have been characterized, which both localize on the conidiospore surface and contribute to its hydrophobicity. RodA is the constituent protein of very regularly arranged rodlets, 10 nm in diameter. Here we analyzed four more hydrophobins, DewB-E, in A. nidulans and found that all six hydrophobins contribute to the hydrophobic surface of the conidiospores but only deletion of rodA caused loss of the rodlet structure. Analysis of the rodlets in the dewB-E deletion strains with atomic force microscopy revealed that the rodlets appeared less robust. Expression of DewA and DewB driven from the rodA promoter and secreted with the RodA secretion signal in a strain lacking RodA, restored partly the hydrophobicity. DewA and B were able to form rodlets to some extent but never reached the rodlet structure of RodA. The rodlet-lacking rodA-deletion strain opens the possibility to systematically study rodlet formation of other natural or synthetic hydrophobins.
atomic force microscopy
We recently introduced a method that allows the controlled deposition of nanoscale metallic patterns at defined locations using the tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM) as a “mechano-electrochemical pen”, locally activating a passivated substrate surface for site-selective electrochemical deposition. Here, we demonstrate the reversibility of this process and study the long-term stability of the resulting metallic structures. The remarkable stability for more than 1.5 years under ambient air without any observable changes can be attributed to self-passivation. After AFM-activated electrochemical deposition of copper nanostructures on a polycrystalline gold film and subsequent AFM imaging, the copper nanostructures could be dissolved by reversing the electrochemical potential. Subsequent AFM-tip-activated deposition of different copper nanostructures at the same location where the previous structures were deleted, shows that there is no observable memory effect, i.e., no effect of the previous writing process on the subsequent writing process. Thus, the four processes required for reversible information storage, “write”, “read”, “delete” and “re-write”, were successfully demonstrated on the nanometer scale.
atomic force microscopy; electrochemical deposition; electrochemistry; nanoelectronics; nanofabrication; nanolithography; nanotechnology; MEMS and NEMS; reversible processes; scanning probe microscopy and lithography
We report on the electronic transport through nanoscopic metallic contacts under the influence of external light fields. Various processes can be of relevance here, whose underlying mechanisms can be studied by comparing different kinds of atomic contacts. For this purpose two kinds of contacts, which were established by electrochemical deposition, forming a gate-controlled quantum switch (GCQS), have been studied. We demonstrate that in these kinds of contacts thermal effects resulting from local heating due to the incident light, namely thermovoltage and the temperature dependences of the electrical resistivity and the electrochemical (Helmholtz) double layer are the most prominent effects.
atom transistor; atomic contacts; cyclic voltammogram; electrochemically closed break junction; electronic transport; (Helmholtz) double layer; light-induced signals; temperature-induced changes; thermovoltage
A rapid and cost-effective lithographic method, polymer blend lithography (PBL), is reported to produce patterned self-assembled monolayers (SAM) on solid substrates featuring two or three different chemical functionalities. For the pattern generation we use the phase separation of two immiscible polymers in a blend solution during a spin-coating process. By controlling the spin-coating parameters and conditions, including the ambient atmosphere (humidity), the molar mass of the polystyrene (PS) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), and the mass ratio between the two polymers in the blend solution, the formation of a purely lateral morphology (PS islands standing on the substrate while isolated in the PMMA matrix) can be reproducibly induced. Either of the formed phases (PS or PMMA) can be selectively dissolved afterwards, and the remaining phase can be used as a lift-off mask for the formation of a nanopatterned functional silane monolayer. This “monolayer copy” of the polymer phase morphology has a topographic contrast of about 1.3 nm. A demonstration of tuning of the PS island diameter is given by changing the molar mass of PS. Moreover, polymer blend lithography can provide the possibility of fabricating a surface with three different chemical components: This is demonstrated by inducing breath figures (evaporated condensed entity) at higher humidity during the spin-coating process. Here we demonstrate the formation of a lateral pattern consisting of regions covered with 1H,1H,2H,2H-perfluorodecyltrichlorosilane (FDTS) and (3-aminopropyl)triethoxysilane (APTES), and at the same time featuring regions of bare SiOx. The patterning process could be applied even on meter-sized substrates with various functional SAM molecules, making this process suitable for the rapid preparation of quasi two-dimensional nanopatterned functional substrates, e.g., for the template-controlled growth of ZnO nanostructures .
breath figure; nanopatterned template; polymer blend lithography (PBL); self-assembled monolayer (SAM); self assembly; spin coating; vapor phase
We study the crossover of quantum point contacts from (i) individual-atom contacts to (ii) electronic-shell effects and finally to (iii) geometric-shell effects in electrochemically deposited silver contacts. The method allows the fabrication of mechanically unstrained structures, which is a requirement for determining the individual atomic configuration by means of a detailed lifetime analysis of their conductance. Within the geometric-shell model, the sequence of conductance maxima is explained quantitatively based on the crystal structure data of silver, and the growth mechanism of the nanowires is discussed.
nanowires; quantum point contacts; shell effect; silver
We demonstrate a method that allows the controlled writing of metallic patterns on the nanometer scale using the tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM) as a “mechano–electrochemical pen”. In contrast to previous experiments, no voltage is applied between the AFM tip and the sample surface. Instead, a passivated sample surface is activated locally due to lateral forces between the AFM tip and the sample surface. In this way, the area of tip–sample interaction is narrowly limited by the mechanical contact between tip and sample, and well-defined metallic patterns can be written reproducibly. Nanoscale structures and lines of copper were deposited, and the line widths ranged between 5 nm and 80 nm, depending on the deposition parameters. A procedure for the sequential writing of metallic nanostructures is introduced, based on the understanding of the passivation process. The mechanism of this mechano–electrochemical writing technique is investigated, and the processes of site-selective surface depassivation, deposition, dissolution and repassivation of electrochemically deposited nanoscale metallic islands are studied in detail.
atomic force microscopy; deposition; electrochemistry; nanoelectronics; nanofabrication; nanolithography; nanotechnology; NEMS and MEMS; scanning probe lithography
In this study, we investigated pre-structured (100) GaAs sample surfaces with respect to subsequent site-selective quantum dot growth. Defects occurring in the GaAs buffer layer grown after pre-structuring are attributed to insufficient cleaning of the samples prior to regrowth. Successive cleaning steps were analyzed and optimized. A UV-ozone cleaning is performed at the end of sample preparation in order to get rid of remaining organic contamination.