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Confining Light to Deep Subwavelength Dimensions to Enable Optical Nanopatterning

Science  15 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5929, pp. 917-921
DOI: 10.1126/science.1167704

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Abstract

In the past, the formation of microscale patterns in the far field by light has been diffractively limited in resolution to roughly half the wavelength of the radiation used. Here, we demonstrate lines with an average width of 36 nanometers (nm), about one-tenth the illuminating wavelength λ1 = 325 nm, made by applying a film of thermally stable photochromic molecules above the photoresist. Simultaneous irradiation of a second wavelength, λ2 = 633 nm, renders the film opaque to the writing beam except at nodal sites, which let through a spatially constrained segment of incident λ1 light, allowing subdiffractional patterning. The same experiment also demonstrates a patterning of periodic lines whose widths are about one-tenth their period, which is far smaller than what has been thought to be lithographically possible.

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