Big Reaction: Nanoscale etching a penny

Big Reaction: Nanoscale etching a penny

Nanoetching a penny
Nanoscale features etched into a penny.

My lab is located at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), just up the hill from UC Berkeley. The lab is home to a wide range of cool research and cutting edge technology. The demo shown here, produced by the Molecular Foundry at LBL, showcases two different techniques for creating nanoscale features.

The Molecular Foundry logo was etched using a high energy electron beam, which can create features on the scale of a few hundred atoms (20+ nanometers).

The Berkeley Lab logo is on a slightly larger scale. Rather than electrons, the features are etched by Gallium ions bombarding the surface using a technique called Focused Ion Milling (FIB). Abraham Lincoln’s face is also written with FIB.

Why use electrons and atoms to etch these nanoscale features? From the original video‘s description,

Photolithography, which literally means writing with light, is the foundation for most top-down fabrication of things like microprocessors. However, because of something called the diffraction limit, photolithography is limited to devices that have features no smaller than the wavelength of the light used, often in the 100s of nanometers. As a result, things smaller than light like atoms and electrons must be used.

Find out more about nanoscience research happening at LBL.

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