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NSF PR 01-12 - February 8, 2001
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'Molecular Rulers' Make Nano-Scale Gaps
Precise spacings between structures allow construction
Scientists at Penn State have developed a precise method
for making nano-sized metal wires spaced very close
to each other. The process could speed the miniaturization
of electronic devices used for circuits, high-density
data storage and sensors.
A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. Anat Hatzor
and Paul Weiss, with support from the National Science
Foundation, fabricated wires that range from 15 to
70 nanometers wide and a few micrometers long and
are spaced 10 to 40 nanometers apart. Previously,
nano-scale construction methods had been limited to
structures with larger, less controlled spacings.
Their results are published in the February 9 issue
The scientists used organic molecules as "molecular
rulers," expanding the molecules into nano-scale structures
with precise amounts of spacing between them, then
using those spaces as miniature molds for gold wires.
The ability to create precisely sized, parallel nano-wires
simultaneously is expected to be useful in the development
of molecular electronics, in which molecules connected
by such wires will serve as transistors, switches
and other electronic devices.
"This work represents a successful marriage between
chemistry and conventional methods for making microelectronic
devices," said NSF program manager Guebre Tessema.
"These scientists have achieved greater precision
and miniaturization, opening a new era in lithography
The research was funded by NSF, the Army Research Office,
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and
the Office of Naval Research. It was conducted at
one of NSF's National Nanofabrication Users Network
facilities, at Pennsylvania State University. The
users network provides the research and industrial
communities with infrastructure and equipment to make
nano-scale devices in small quantities.
For illustrations, contact Amber Jones
For more information, see: http://stm1.chem.psu.edu/