University to install sub-10nm resolution lithography system

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Leeds University is to house one of the highest resolution electron-beam lithography systems in Europe.

The system, supplied by JEOL, is to be installed following a £2.7m grant from the EPSRC, in partnership with Sheffield and York universities.

Its purchase is supported by additional investment from Leeds and industrial funding for PhD studentships, bringing the total investment in the facility to close to £4m.

Electron-beam lithography systems are widely used to pattern wires, dots, rings and integrated structures at the submicron scale.

The system that is on its way to Leeds will be able to define features less than 10 nanometres in size, allowing researchers to fabricate new generations of high-frequency electronics and spintronic devices and to study novel magnetic materials.

According to Leeds, the system will also enable researchers to fabricate electrodes that are small enough to connect to individual molecules or groups of molecules, leading to new classes of hybrid, bioelectronic materials that could have applications in medical diagnostics.

‘This instrument will take us to the next level of sophistication in terms of nanoengineering,’ said Prof Edmund Linfield, from the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Leeds University. ‘The system’s sub-10nm resolution will really help us bridge the gap to molecular-scale patterning. In short, it will allow us to undertake the fundamental scientific work that will underpin the next generation of materials that will emerge over the coming decades, and allow us to design devices that will find industrial applications from the electronic to the medical sectors.’

Projects lined up for the new electron-beam lithography system include a study into how nanowires made from magnetic films can be used to trap ultra-cold atoms, a technique that will help advance quantum computing applications.

Funding from JEOL will help young scientists at the beginning of their research careers take advantage of the new facility. Up to 10 new PhD studentships specifically linked to electron-beam lithography will be created over the next five years at Leeds, Sheffield and York universities. It is expected that up to half of these will involve collaborative research with an industrial partner.