Fabrication of Oriented Silicon Nano-Structures by e-Beam Lithography and Anisotropic Wet Etching
Background Based on prior work for development of angstrom-scale measurement standards for the semiconductor industry, this innovation has made significant advancements in the alignment and control for etching lines/channels in silicon and silicon-on-insulator (SOI) structures. Prior alignment and etching methods were not precise enough to provide the necessary control. The resulting advancement allows production of nano-scale channels of very high quality, for example mechanical integrity, surface condition, and precise size and spacing. Additional capabilities include making columnar nano-structures.
Invention Description The key innovation is the ability to do electron beam lithography using an extremely precise and novel alignment method. With this alignment capability, it is possible to closely control etching along specific crystalline orientation to produce nano-channels of very small size, high dimensional accuracy, and quality.
The nano-channel faces are extremely smooth, and the nano-structure walls are absent of crystalline defects that would otherwise arise with even the slightest misalignment of etching. Channels of the dimensions enabled by this innovation would otherwise have no mechanical integrity due to these crystalline defects. Various nano-channel and columnar structures have been produced to date. Capabilities also exist for producing such structures on SOI wafers.
Production of nano-channels and nano-columns of extremely high quality: high dimensional accuracy, surface smoothness, and mechanical robustness Nanometer level dimensional sizes and control Applicable to both silicon and SOI materials Amenable to low-cost production methods
Precise alignment of electron-beam lithography Broad potential across many different market applications
Market Potential/Applications This is an enabling innovation with broad potential applications, including micro mirrors and optics, microelectronic interconnects, microelectronic devices (such as tri-gate or FIN/FET devices), environmental sensors, and various microfluidic and MEMS applications. Microfluidic and MEMS-related applications include drug delivery and sensors for study of cells, proteomics and genomics, and lab-on-a-chip type applications.
Microfluidics is a rapidly developing field targeting the manipulation of miniature amounts of fluids, mainly for fast biochemical analysis. It deals with moving gaseous or liquid fluids in micro cavities and channels, and is at the crossroads of material sciences, surface science, microtechnology, fluid physics, and chemistry. Microfluidics has become of great interest due to its potential to speed up analytical throughput, integrate multiple tasks on a single platform, and decrease size and sample quantity, compared to established analytical tools.
Development Stage Lab/bench prototype
IP Status One U.S. patent application filed
UT Researcher Paul S. Ho, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Ben LI, Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Zhiquan Luo, Physics, The University of Texas at Austin
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