Nanofactory in a Box
2014 R&D 100 Winner
Growing, harvesting and characterizing nanowires sounds like a job for an experienced researcher in a high-end laboratory. It often is. But EChem Nanowires Education Foundation Inc. has partnered with Argonne National Laboratory to bring nanowire fabrication to the classroom: The NanoFab Lab … in a Box! kit gives any student the ability to create nanowires and includes everything needed for the process, except the chemicals.
The kit works on the principle of a new type of lithography, called electroplate and lift (E&L), which was developed by Argonne’s engineers and permits high-throughput, high-volume manufacturing of patterned nanowires and microwires without a costly cleanroom full of equipment. Unlike traditional nanomanufacturing, E&L works from just a simple electroplating bath, power supply and one reusable ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) template electrodes designed to produce any pattern desired. Use is as simple as filling the electroplating bath with the material of choice, typically copper, connecting the UNCD template to the power supply, and lowering the template into the electroplating bath for the short time required to form nanowires. The key innovation that facilitates template reuse is the UNCD layers, which can adjust conductivity from insulating to semi-metallic with just a small amount of nitrogen.
Nanowire fabrication kit
The NanoFab Lab … in a Box! Development Team
Anirudha Sumant, Principal Developer, Argonne National Laboratory
Mike Zach, Principal Developer, EChemNanowire Educational Foundation Inc.