Research Papers

Characterization of the Dip Pen Nanolithography Process for Nanomanufacturing

[+] Author and Article Information
Sourabh K. Saha

 Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139

Martin L. Culpepper1

 Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139culpepper@mit.edu


Corresponding author.

J. Manuf. Sci. Eng 133(4), 041005 (Jul 20, 2011) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4004406 History: Received November 13, 2010; Revised June 07, 2011; Published July 20, 2011; Online July 20, 2011

Dip pen nanolithography (DPN) is a flexible nanofabrication process for creating 2-D nanoscale features on a surface using an “inked” tip. Although a variety of ink-surface combinations can be used for creating 2-D nanofeatures using DPN, the process has not yet been characterized for high throughput and high quality manufacturing. Therefore, at present it is not possible to (i) predict whether fabricating a part is feasible within the constraints of the desired rate and quality and (ii) select/design equipment appropriate for the desired manufacturing goals. Herein, we have quantified the processing rate, tool life, and feature quality for DPN line writing by linking these manufacturing metrics to the process/system parameters. Based on this characterization, we found that (i) due to theoretical and practical constraints of current technology, the processing rate cannot be increased beyond about 20 times the typical rate of ∼1 μm2 /min, (ii) tool life for accurate line writing is limited to 1–5 min, and (iii) sensitivity of line width to process parameters decreases with an increase in the writing speed. Thus, we conclude that for a high throughput and high quality system, we need (i) parallelization or process modification to improve throughput and (ii) accurate fixtures for rapid tool change. We also conclude that process control at high speed writing is less stringent than at low speed writing, thereby suggesting that DPN has a niche in high speed writing of narrow lines.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Schematic of the dip pen nanolithography process

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Figure 2

Cross-sectional view of the meniscus depicting the three step ink transport model for DPN

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Figure 3

Theoretical and practical rate limits for DPN line writing. The shaded region represents the feasible writing speeds for target line widths. Line of a particular width can be written at different writing speeds within this feasible region by varying other process parameters such as ink diffusivities or ambient conditions.

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Figure 4

Tool life for DPN line writing based on two different criteria. Vc represents the cut-off writing speed at the start of writing. The instantaneous cut-off speed decreases with writing due to loss of ink from the tip. (a) Tool life for continuous line writing and (b) tool life for accurate line writing. Abrupt drop in tool life at high writing speeds indicates the onset of discontinuous lines.

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Figure 5

Sensitivity of line width to changes in process parameters at different writing speeds. (a) Sensitivity to writing speed and (b) sensitivity to nondimensional process parameters a and b; at Vc , ∂w/∂a = 0. (c) Sensitivity to meniscus radius; ∂w/∂R is positive beyond 0.39Vc and zero at Vc . (d) Sensitivity to meniscus height.

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Figure 6

Sensitivity of line width to changes in nondimensional parameters a and b at different values of parameters a and b. The writing speed is fixed at 0.5Vc ; Vc  = 0.57 μm/s. (a) Sensitivity at different values of parameter a and (b) sensitivity at different values of parameter b.

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Figure 7

Process driven system design for DPN nanomanufacturing




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