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New Mold Allows for Advanced Silicon Nanostructures


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Whether for gelatin or toys, molds have been used by humans for a long time, and will continue to be used for producing precise structures. For making nanostructures though, molds have not been ideal because of the temperatures involved, but researchers at Cornell University have found a clever solution to the problem. This discovery could enable the creation of advanced, 3D silicon nanostructures.

To make precisely shaped molds for build nanostructures, the researchers turned to block co-polymers, which will self-assemble into the desired structure. The problem with this approach is that while the molds will be perfect, the temperature needed to melt silicon into it is far above what the mold can endure. The solution the researchers came up with was to change how the silicon is heated. Instead of heating the silicon to a liquid, and then pouring it into the mold, nanosecond laser pulses are used to create very short melt periods. These periods are so short that there is not enough time for the polymer mold to be damaged by the heat.

There are already methods of creating silicon nanostructures, but typically they result in amorphous or polycrystalline silicon. This method instead creates single-crystal silicon nanostructures, which could allow for special properties as it is the nanostructure, and not any defects, that will determine the final product's characteristics.

Source: Cornell University

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