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Chinese nanocheckers.

A new technique for making glass wafers riddled with regularly spaced, nanometer-size holes promises to help shrink microelectronics components to microscopic proportions.

Already this process has produced glass arrays that pack 30 billion channels, each 33 nanometers in diameter, into a square centimeter of glass, says Ronald J. Tonucci, a physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. He and his colleagues expect to halve that diameter. They have also modified the technique to make patterns as well as periodic arrays, Tonucci told SCIENCE NEWS.

The scientists begin by inserting a 1- to 2-inch-wide rod of acid-etchable glass into a close-fitting tube of glass that does not dissolve in acid. They heat the filled tube and draw it into a thin filament. They then bundle many of these filaments together and heat and draw the bundle. The scientists repeat the process several times, they report in the Oct. 30 SCIENCE. Their success depends on picking and processing the glasses very carefully, says Tonucci. Otherwise, the glasses might fuse during the 40-hour processing time.

As a final step, the scientists dissolve the acid-etchable glass, leaving behind an array of holes or tubes that can serve as molds for making nanometer-size semiconductors, says Tonucci. This technology can also yield lithographic masks that hold their shape at higher temperatures than most metal and plastic masks used today. Moreover, "it's possibly the world's smallest glass Chinese checkers board," Tonucci adds.

In their latest work, the scientists start with very fine glass filaments, bundling acid-etchable and non-acid-etchable ones in specific configurations, says Tonucci. With this technique, they hope to mass-produce intricate patterns.
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Title Annotation:new glass-wafer technique uses fine glass filaments with nanometer-size holes
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 7, 1992
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