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New Electron Microscopy Method Sculpts 3-D Structures With One-Nanometer Features

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ORNL researchers used a new scanning transmission electron microscopy technique to sculpt 3-D nanoscale features in a complex oxide material.

“Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have developed a way to build precision-sculpted 3-D strontium titanate nanostructures as small as one nanometer, using scanning transmission electron microscopes, which are normally used for imaging.

The technique could find uses in fabricating structures for functional nanoscale devices such as microchips. The structures grow epitaxially (in perfect crystalline alignment), which ensures that the same electrical and mechanical properties extend throughout the whole material, with more pronounced control over properties. The process can also be observed with atomic resolution.” said

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“The use of a scanning transmission electron microscope, which passes an electron beam through a bulk material, sets the approach apart from lithography techniques, which only pattern or manipulate a material’s surface. Combined with electron beam path control, the process could lead to large-scale implementation of bulk atomic-level fabrication as a new enabling tool of nanoscience and technology, providing a bottom-up, atomic-level complement to 3D printing, the researchers say.

“We’re using fine control of the beam to build something inside the solid itself,” said ORNL’s Stephen Jesse. “We’re making transformations that are buried deep within the structure. It would be like tunneling inside a mountain to build a house.”

The technique also offers a shortcut to researchers interested in studying how materials’ characteristics change with thickness. Instead of imaging multiple samples of varying widths, scientists could use the microscopy method to add layers to the sample and simultaneously observe what happens.” said

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“New Electron Microscopy Method Sculpts 3-D Structures With One-Nanometer Features”