Fab-on-a-chip: a MEMS approach to nanofabrication
Barrett, Lawrence K.
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Modern semiconductor fabs are multi-billion dollar systems capable of producing devices with features as small as 7 nm for a cost of nano-dollars each. The nanoscale devices they fabricate have reshaped the world. Whole new fields of nanoscience have opened up encouraged by the success of the semiconductor industry and the promise of nanotechnology. Modern nanoscientists largely use tools pioneered in and for semiconductor fabs. Here, some of the functionality of semiconductor fabs is reproduced on millimeter size silicon chips, creating new tools for researching and manufacturing nanodevices. A system of these silicon chips is a fab-on-a-chip and is built using microelectromechanical systems or MEMS. MEMS devices are inexpensive to fabricate, but can be extremely complex. The first fab-on-a-chip device presented is a micro-scale thermal evaporator. It can deposit 7 Å s^-1 of Pb from ∼1 mm away, can be rapidly reloaded using simple mechanical means, and has a footprint of 0.25 mm^2. The flux rate from this thermal evaporator is monitored using a re-purposed quartz crystal oscillator as a mass sensor. Another fab-on-a-chip device is a writer. A device capable of positioning a silicon plate with <10 nm resolution in two dimensions. It can be used either to position stencils of nanoscale devices or to draw nanoscale devices directly in a process called atomic calligraphy. A micro-evaporator has been connected to a writer to form a device that is capable of producing nanoscale structures while only being a few cubic millimeters large. Additionally, an advanced writer is presented that can move a plate with five degrees of freedom and could be a powerful tool for fabricating and manipulating nanodevices.