The objective of this project, to be conducted at the University of Texas at Austin, is to develop a new nano-fabrication technique, Surface Plasmons-Assisted Nanolithography (SPAN), to manufacture sub-50 nm structures in a massively parallel fashion. The PI will conduct comprehensive investigations by a combination of experiments and theoretical simulation to obtain a fundamental understanding of enhanced optical transmission through nano-slits and photoresist. Optimal design of the SPAN process using different mask materials, photoresists, and coating on the substrate will be carried out aiming to address the underlying necessities for predictability, producibility, and productivity using SPAN. The proposed research requires the unique combination of nano-photonics and nanomanufacturing.
As a general purpose nanomanufacturng technique, the technical impact of the SPAN process will be very broad, ranging from the fabrication of nanoelectronics, to the development of nanophotonics and nano-bio systems. Compared to existing nano-fabrication techniques, this new method offers high throughput and low costs, which are critical to industrial scale manufacturing. Moreover, the results of this work will provide exciting teaching materials and interesting laboratory projects. The proposed efforts of integrating research with education will offer undergraduates and graduate students increased exposure to nanoscience and engineering technologies and applications. In particular, improving on-going graduate courses in NEMS/MEMS, initiation of a new undergraduate course -Introduction to Micro and Nanoengineering", and implementation of emerging nanoengineering components into traditional undergraduate core courses will have a significant impact on graduate and undergraduate education.
Nanofabrication represents one of the most significant challenges to the realization of nanostructures. For nanomanufacturing, massive parallelization, low costs, and high fidelity are important measures for industrial applications. It has been the goal of this project to develop a new nano-fabrication technique coined as Surface Plasmons-Assisted Nanolithography (SPAN). The PI has conducted comprehensive investigations by a combination of experiments and theoretical simulation to obtain a fundamental understanding of the SPAN process and to address the underlying necessities for predictability, producibility and productivity using SPAN. Results from this project are leading to massively parallel nano-patterning for the fabrication of nanoelectronics, nanophotonics, and nanobiosystems. In particular, our novel plasmonic solar cells offer new directions of solar cell design with much higher solar absorption. We have published 18 peer-reviewed journal articles in top journals such as Nano Letters, Physical Review B, and Applied Physics Letters. We also published 12 papers in conference proceedings and book chapter. Many of the papers have received excellent citations. Several technical magazines had special report on our research work, including Nanotechweb about localizing plasmonic nanoparticles in 3D polymer stack, and Physics World about gold nanosphere-assisted nanopatterning. We have trained 5 PhD students and 2 undergraduate researchers during the course of the project. Results from this project have been presented in a variety of society meetings, especially the key manufacturing and nanotechnology conferences. Results from this project have also been used as a part of course materials for graduate and undergraduate courses that the PI has been teaching. We have given 31 invited seminars at universities and institutions around the world with results from this project. The project has the potential for commercialization in the manufacturing industry with 5 provisional patents.