NIRT: GOALI - An Electron-Beam Based Microscale Nano-manufacturing Platform with 1-nm Accuracy

Grants and Contracts Details


NIRT: GOALI - An Electron-Beam Based Microscale NanD-manufacturing Platform with i-nm Accuracy Proiect SUmmary The proposed Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) will address one of the critical challenges facing nanoscale manufacturing: the need to cost-effectively mass produce active nanosystems with nanometer-level accuracy and repeatability. The proposed effort integrates fundamental and applied research to lay the foundation for micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) that perfornl electron-beam based nano-manufacturing with one nanometer accuracy and precision. Successful execution of this project will require tasks as diverse as understanding electron interactions with luminescent nanoparticles and understanding the feedback control system requirements for MEMS electron-optical columns. In order to address these requirements, we propose a NSF GOAL! (Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaisons with Industry) mechanism encompassing the University of Kentucky, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Novelx, Inc., a three-year old start-up company. The intellectual merit of the proposed research rests on (l) addressing the fundamental problem of accuracy in nanoscale manufacturing, (2) gaining insight into electron interactions with nanostructured materials, and (3) assessing the limits of nanopatterning accuracy and repeatability. The proposed project integrates two key innovations with encouraging preliminary results: feedback control of electron-beam position based on a in-situ fiducial grid and use of micro-electromechanical electron-optical systems for nanopatterning. To make this combination possible the team plans to investigate two novel fiducial grid materials with high resolution and signal-to-noise ratio: nanostructured secondary electron emitters and luminescent nanoparticles. This investigation will provide new insight into electron interactions with nanomaterials and into the conditions required for high secondary electron and photon yields. The teanl will also explore a novel hybrid soft/rigid stamping approach to transfer the grid to each workpiece while retaining global nanoaccuracy. This investigation will assess the limits of accuracy and repeatability for replication of nanoscale metrology standards. Finally, to make an ultra-low cost nanomanufacturing platform a reality, the researchers will study secondary electron and photon signal detection and feedback control requirements for nanoaccurate microscale electron-be am-based patterning systems. Such an investigation will elucidate the advantages and limitations of microscale manufacturing systems compared to their traditional counterparts, and will culminate with integration of spatial-phase locking into a microscale SEBL system. The qualifications of the team are well-matched to the work at hand. The team draws on the expertise of two electrical engineers (Hastings and Smith) who have been pursuing nano-accurate electron-beam lithography for the past few years. However, to achieve the proposed nano-manufacturing goals a radically improved in-situ metrology grid and grid transfer method are required. A materials scientist (Stellacci) will help develop high signal-to-noise ratio nanostrucutred grids that can be reliably transferred to each work-piece. His expertise on the synthesis and assembly of nano-particles will make such a metrology standard a reality. The founders of Novelx, Inc. (Muray and Spallas) bring expertise in the design and fabrication of micromachined electron optical systems and integration of those systems into compact electron-beam-based tools. Success in this endeavor will have a multiplying effect by enhancing nanofabrication infrastructure with a low-cost, nano-accurate manufacturing platform. To ensure even broader impact of the project, the team has embarked on an undergraduate education effort in connection with the University of Kentucky's Nanoscale Engineering Certificate Program (NECP). The team has also initiated diversity enhancing outreach efforts targeting high-school students from underrepresented Appalachian regions. Finally, the formalized collaboration between u.K., MJ.T., and Novelx, Inc. will create a pipeline for students trained in nanoscale manufacturing related disciplines. The proposed research program addresses the research and education themes of Nanoscale Devices and System Architecture and Manufacturing Processes at the Nanoscale.
Effective start/end date9/1/068/31/11


  • National Science Foundation: $1,000,000.00


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