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Materials—Pure, precise nanostructures

ORNL researchers married helium-ion microscopy with a liquid cell from North Carolina-based Protochips Inc., to fabricate exceedingly pure, precise platinum structures. Credit: Stephen Jesse/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

March 1, 2018 – Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have directly written high-purity metallic structures narrower than a cold virus—which could open nanofabrication opportunities in electronics, drug delivery, catalysis and chemical separations. At ORNL’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, the team rastered a beam from a helium-ion microscope through a solution to locally deposit platinum, forming a ribbon only 15 nanometers in diameter. “This is the first occurrence of direct-write nanofabrication from a liquid-phase precursor using an ion microscope,” said ORNL’s Olga Ovchinnokova. “With full understanding from experiment and theory, we direct-wrote precise structures with highly pure material using unique tools.” The team ran calculations on ORNL’s Titan supercomputer and analyzed data from experiments and simulations to understand the dynamic interactions among ions, solids and liquids essential for optimizing the process. Their results were published in the journal Nanoscale.

 Stephen Jesse/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy