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Beam pen lithography


Lithography techniques are currently being developed to fabricate nanoscale components for integrated circuits, medical diagnostics and optoelectronics1,2,3,4,5,6,7. In conventional far-field optical lithography, lateral feature resolution is diffraction-limited8. Approaches that overcome the diffraction limit have been developed9,10,11,12,13,14, but these are difficult to implement or they preclude arbitrary pattern formation. Techniques based on near-field scanning optical microscopy can overcome the diffraction limit, but they suffer from inherently low throughput and restricted scan areas15,16,17. Highly parallel two-dimensional, silicon-based, near-field scanning optical microscopy aperture arrays have been fabricated18, but aligning a non-deformable aperture array to a large-area substrate with near-field proximity remains challenging. However, recent advances in lithographies based on scanning probe microscopy have made use of transparent two-dimensional arrays of pyramid-shaped elastomeric tips (or ‘pens’) for large-area, high-throughput patterning of ink molecules19,20,21,22,23. Here, we report a massively parallel scanning probe microscopy-based approach that can generate arbitrary patterns by passing 400-nm light through nanoscopic apertures at each tip in the array. The technique, termed beam pen lithography, can toggle between near- and far-field distances, allowing both sub-diffraction limit (100 nm) and larger features to be generated.

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Figure 1: Fabrication of a beam pen array.
Figure 2: Large-area patterning and sub-diffraction limit features.
Figure 3: Arbitrary pattern fabrication capability.
Figure 4: Orthogonal levels of patterning control provided by macroscale addressability of pens.


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C.A.M. acknowledges the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NSF (NSEC-program) for supporting this research. C.A.M is grateful for a NSSEF Fellowship from the DoD. L.R.G. acknowledges the NSF for a Graduate Research Fellowship and an ARCS Scholarship.

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F.H. and G.Z. contributed equally to this work in designing and performing the experiments, analysing the results and drafting the manuscript. X.L., L.R.G., J.C., X.C. and W.S. also performed experiments and helped with revisions. C.A.M. helped design the experiments, analyse the results, and draft the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Chad A. Mirkin.

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Huo, F., Zheng, G., Liao, X. et al. Beam pen lithography. Nature Nanotech 5, 637–640 (2010).

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