NanoFrazor for Atomic Silicon Quantum Dots (ASiQDs)

In the last weeks, another NanoFrazor system from Heidelberg Instruments was installed in Canada at the University of Alberta/NRC, where it will be used for fabricating atom-scale electronics together with the company QuantumSilicon Inc. (QSi).

QSi’s atomically precise lithographic techniques, alongside machine learning techniques, have enabled the fabrication of truly perfect atom-defined patterns on silicon for a range of atomic-scale electronics. These atom-scale electronics are composed of QSi’s patented Atomic Silicon Quantum Dots (ASiQDs); selectively depassivated silicon atoms on an otherwise completely hydrogen-passivated silicon surface. These materials allow for compatibility with more conventional CMOS technologies. To exchange signals with the atomic-scale electronics, contact junctions are patterned on a “macro-to-atom” chip using conventional optical and electron-beam lithography.

Operation of an atom defined OR gate. (Courtesy of QSi)

However, due to the atomic-scale dimensions of ASiQDs, there are many challenges in patterning reliable contacts to interface with them. Although electron-beam lithography allows for nanoscale patterning, the resolution is largely dominated by proximity effects – distorting, and sometimes even completely destroying the desired pattern.

The non-invasiveness of the NanoFrazor would circumvent this issue entirely, allowing us to easily pattern even higher resolution contacts. Troubleshooting issues in the process flow for conventional lithographic techniques is also inefficient and cumbersome. Patterning issues cannot be addressed until the chip is fully patterned and subsequently imaged with an electron microscope. The NanoFrazor can help overcome this challenge with in-situ imaging. Patterning issues can thus be addressed and resolved in real-time, prior to final pattern development.

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