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Research ­pdate: Chips With Self-Assembling Rectangles

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self-assembled structures, illustration

An artist's representation of the structures produced by MIT's self-assembly method shows (in a top-down view) the posts produced by electron-beam lithography in blue, and the resulting self-assembled shapes in white.

Credit: Yan Liang / MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed an approach to creating the array of wires on microchips that uses a system of self-assembling polymers. The process produces arrays of wires that meet at right angles, forming squares and rectangles, which are traditionally very difficult to produce through self-assembly.

When molecules self-assemble, they have a natural tendency to create hexagonal shapes, such as in a honeycomb or an array of soap bubbles between sheets of glass, notes MIT professor Caroline Ross. The MIT researchers' approach creates an array of tiny posts on the surface that guides the patterning of the self-assembling polymer molecules. The system also creates a variety of shapes of the material itself, including cylinders, spheres, ellipsoids, and double cylinders. These shapes are possible because "the template, which is coated so as to repel one of the polymer components, causes a lot of local strain on the pattern," says MIT professor Karl Berggren.

The technique also can make "complex patterns, which is an objective for nanodevice fabrication," with fewer steps than current processes, says MIT's Amir Tavakkoli.

From MIT News
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