Nano Group, University of Southampton

Nano Group

Sculpture at the nanoscale!

The power and potential of the equipment in the School's new clean room is now apparent as the systems begin to come on-line.

The capabilities of the new Zeiss NVision 40 CrossBeam workstation is demonstrated in this image from the Southampton Nanofabrication Centre, which is part of the School of Electronics and Computer Science in the University of Southampton.

Dr Stuart Boden showed the new system’s power by milling the letters ‘ECS’ (for Electronics and Computer Science) into a regular array of pillars etched into silicon (in this case, an antireflective, biomimetic silicon moth-eye array). Dr Boden used the Focused Ion Beam (FIB) to mill away individual silicon pillars, each of which is about 150nm wide at the base. The procedure involved directing a focused beam of gallium ions on to the pillars, whilst simultaneously viewing the action using the scanning electron microscope (SEM) built into the system.

‘But we can do much more than carve out nanoscale acronyms!’, says Stuart. ‘The benefit of having the Crossbeam FIB and SEM is that we can inspect a sample using the non-destructive electron beam, decide which bits we’d like to get rid of, and then turn on the gallium ion beam to mill away only these parts, leaving the rest of the sample undamaged.

‘In addition, the integrated gas injection system allows us to direct the deposition of a variety of materials using the ion beam, so we can create as well as destroy. This versatility allows for fast prototyping of nanodevices before committing to large-scale fabrication processes. We can also make nanoscale alterations and repairs to existing devices.’

The Southampton Nanofabrication Centre is managed by the ECS Nano research group and based in the new Mountbatten Building, which is a £100M investment in UK nanotechnology and photonics.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel. +44(0)23 8059 5453

Posted by Joyce K Lewis on 22 Jul 2009.