Soft Template Infiltration Manufacturing of Nanomaterials

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Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb
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Ashley L. Bernal
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Rene' Meadors
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Background: The distinctive chemical, physical, and mechanical properties of nanomaterials permit intriguing potential in a plethora of applications ranging from electronic, industrial, to biomedical. Because of their importance, the fabrication of nanomaterials with desired properties has been the subject of enormous research efforts. The present invention relates to the manufacture of user-defined and high aspect ratio nano-structured materials  by use of polymeric templates.  

Technology: Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb, and Ashley L. Bernal from the School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech have developed a "soft template infiltration" method for the fabrication of nanomaterials through the use of polymeric templates. The template can be a thin or thick polymeric film deposited by a spin or dip-coating process. The film can then be patterned via electron beam lithography (ELB) or by nano-imprint lithography (NIL). Using atomic layer deposition (ALD), the template is then coated with a thin conformal layer of metal or oxide.  A chemical solution containing the precursor of the desired material is infiltrated into the template by immersion. This can be facilitated by sonication and application of a vacuum. Removal of the template from the bath, followed by washing the template with solvent removes excess precursor from the surface. Subsequent heat treatment serves to remove the solvents as well as removing the template itself. Heat treatment can also be used to establish the desired crystallographic phase of the nanomaterial. The immersion bath and subsequent heat treatment cycles can be repeated multiple times to increase the thickness of the deposited material. This technique allows the creation of shapes and patterns in user-defined locations of the substrate and can be used to create multiple shapes and aspects ratios within the same sample.

Potential Commercial Applications: This novel manufacturing technique is the first reported method that addresses the requirements of alignment and patterning for the integration of nano-materials into specific devices. Potential commercial applications include terahertz emitters for photonics, electronic, and communication uses, ultra-high resolution ultrasound transducers and micro/nano-fluidic devices for biomedical applications, photonic crystals for optical applications, energy harvesters, and memory applications. 

Benefits / Advantages:

  • Allows production of nanomaterials with high aspect ratios
  • Combines the needs of alignment and patterning of nanomaterials for device integration.
  • Nano-structured material can be created with user-defined shapes, aspect ratios and locations required for specific devices.
  • Various aspect ratios can be fabricated in the same sample on the same template in a single process.