Nanostructure fabrication by ultra-high-resolution environmental scanning electron microscopy

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Journal Article
Nano Letters, 2007, 7 pp. 525 - 530
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Electron beam induced deposition (EBID) is a maskless nanofabrication technique capable of surpassing the resolution limits of resist-based lithography. However, EBID fabrication of functional nanostructures is limited by beam spread in bulk substrates, substrate charging, and delocalized film growth around deposits. Here, we overcome these problems by using environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) to perform EBID and etching while eliminating charging artifacts at the nanoscale. Nanostructure morphology is tailored by slimming of deposits by ESEM imaging in the presence of a gaseous etch precursor and by pre-etching small features into a deposit (using a stationary or a scanned electron beam) prior to a final imaging process. The utility of this process is demonstrated by slimming of nanowires deposited by EBID, by the fabrication of gaps (between 4 and 7 nm wide) in the wires, and by the removal of thin films surrounding such nanowires. ESEM imaging provides a direct view of the slimming process, yielding process resolution that is limited by ESEM image resolution (similar to 1 nm) and surface roughening occurring during etching.
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