Direct optical lithography of functional inorganic nanomaterials

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Science  28 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6349, pp. 385-388
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan2958

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Patterning without polymers

Nanoscale patterning usually requires multiple steps to mask, pattern, and develop sequential layers. One overriding concern is to obtain compatibility between all the materials, as well as the patterning techniques used, to ensure accurate and clean processing. Wang et al. use light-responsive ligands to change the solubility of nanocrystals in specific solvents, so that development can be done by simple redispersion of nanocrystals in dark regions (see the Perspective by Striccoli). The process can fully utilize the advantages of conventional semiconductor processing, but without the need for photoresists, because the nanocrystals are only deposited where they are exposed to light.

Science, this issue p. 385; see also p. 353


Photolithography is an important manufacturing process that relies on using photoresists, typically polymer formulations, that change solubility when illuminated with ultraviolet light. Here, we introduce a general chemical approach for photoresist-free, direct optical lithography of functional inorganic nanomaterials. The patterned materials can be metals, semiconductors, oxides, magnetic, or rare earth compositions. No organic impurities are present in the patterned layers, which helps achieve good electronic and optical properties. The conductivity, carrier mobility, dielectric, and luminescence properties of optically patterned layers are on par with the properties of state-of-the-art solution-processed materials. The ability to directly pattern all-inorganic layers by using a light exposure dose comparable with that of organic photoresists provides an alternate route for thin-film device manufacturing.

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