Self-formation of sub-60-nm half-pitch gratings with large areas through fracturing

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Periodic micro- and nanostructures (gratings) have many significant applications in electronic, optical, magnetic, chemical and biological devices and materials. Traditional methods for fabricating gratings by writing with electrons1, ions2 or a mechanical tip are limited to very small areas and suffer from extremely low throughput. Interference lithography can achieve relatively large fabrication areas, but has a low yield for small-period gratings3,4. Photolithography5, nanoimprint lithography6,7, soft lithography8,9 and lithographically induced self-construction10 all require a prefabricated mask, and although electrohydrodynamic instabilities11 can self-produce periodic dots without a mask, gratings remain challenging. Here, we report a new low-cost maskless method to self-generate nano- and microgratings from an initially featureless polymer thin film sandwiched between two relatively rigid flat plates. By simply prising apart the plates, the film fractures into two complementary sets of nonsymmetrical gratings, one on each plate, of the same period. The grating period is always four times the thickness of the glassy film, regardless of its molecular weight and chemical composition. Periods from 120 nm to 200 µm have been demonstrated across areas as large as two square centimetres.

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Figure 1: Schematic of the FIS process.
Figure 2: Images of FIS gratings.
Figure 3: Grating period p as a function of film thickness h.
Figure 4: Grating period as a function of separation temperature.


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This work was supported by the Materials Research Science & Engineering Centers (MRSEC) (NSF-DMR-0213706), the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Department of Defense (NDSEG) through a fellowship to L.F.P. The authors thank Wen-di Li for preparation of certain graphs.

Author information

P.D., L.F.P. and Y.W. performed the experiments. L.F.P., P.D., Y.W., W.B.R. and S.Y.C. designed and discussed the experiments, analysed the data and co-wrote the paper.

Correspondence to William B. Russel or Stephen Y. Chou.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Pease, L., Deshpande, P., Wang, Y. et al. Self-formation of sub-60-nm half-pitch gratings with large areas through fracturing. Nature Nanotech 2, 545–548 (2007) doi:10.1038/nnano.2007.264

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