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Novel Method for Nanostructured Polymer Thin Films

SpecialChem / Nov 7, 2007

All researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wanted was a simple, quick method for making thin films of block copolymers or BCPs (chemically distinct polymers linked together) in order to have decent samples for taking measurements important to the microelectronics industry. What they got for their efforts, as detailed in the Sept. 12, 2007, Nano Letters,* was an unexpected bonus: a unique annealing process that may make practical the use of BCP thin films for patterning nanoscale features in next-generation microchips and data storage devices. BCP thin films have been highly desired by semiconductor manufacturers as patterns for laying down very fine features on microchips, such as arrays of tightly spaced, nanoscale lines. Annealing certain BCP films-a controlled heating process-causes one of the two polymer components to segregate into regular patterns of nanocylinder lines separated by distances as small as five nanometers or equally regular arrays of nanoscale dots. Chemically removing the other polymer leaves the pattern behind as a template for building structures on the microchip.

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