Physicists at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) bring the joy of Christmas using the 3D nanolithography tool. nanofraser broke the record for the smallest ever. The melody they “recorded” in full stereo: The first 25 seconds of “Swinging Around the Christmas Tree”.
“I’ve been doing lithography for 30 years, and even though we’ve had this machine for a while, it still feels like science fiction.” said Peter Bøggild, a physicist at DTU. “We can write our signature on a red blood cell with this thing to get an idea of the scale at which we’re working. The most radical thing is that we can create freeform 3D landscapes at that insane resolution.”
Back in 2015same DTU group one microscopic color image between Mona Lisa, about 10,000 times smaller than Leonardo da Vinci’s original painting. To do this, they created a nanoscale surface structure consisting of rows of columns covered with a 20 nm thick layer of aluminum. How much a column was deformed determined which colors of light were reflected, and the deformation was determined by the intensity of the pulsed laser beam. For example, low-intensity pulses only slightly deformed the columns, producing blue and purple hues, while strong impacts significantly deformed the columns, producing orange and yellow hues. The resulting image fits in a smaller space than a single pixel on an iPhone Retina display.
The DTU physics group has acquired Nanofrazor to shape precisely detailed 3D nanostructures quickly and relatively inexpensively. The Christmas record was a fun holiday project for postdoctoral Nolan Lassaline to demonstrate his ability to sculpt a surface with nanoscale precision. Rather than adding material to a surface, the nanofrazor precisely removes material to sculpt the surface into the desired pattern or shape (a type of gray scale nanolithography).
“The nanofrazor was operated as a record-breaking lathe that turned an audio signal into a spiral groove on the surface of the medium.” said BøggildHe is also an amateur musician and record buff. “In this case, the medium is a different polymer than vinyl. We even encoded the music in stereo – the lateral folds are the left channel, while the depth modulation includes the right channel. It can be very impractical and expensive to be a hit. You’ll need a fairly costly atomic force microscope or Nanofrazor to read the groove.” You need it, but it’s definitely doable.”
The first goal is to use Nanofrazor to develop new types of magnetic sensors that can detect currents in living brains. Lassaline plans to create “quantum soap bubbles” in graphene in hopes of discovering new ways to precisely manipulate electrons in these and other atomically thin materials. “The fact that we can now accurately sculpt surfaces with nanoscale precision almost at the speed of our imagination is game-changing for us.” said DTU physicist Tim Booth. We have a lot of ideas for what to do next, and we believe this machine will significantly speed up prototyping of new structures.”
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