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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P027822/1
Title: In-situ Interference lithography: a new manufacturing approach for the production of nanostructured arrays
Principal Investigator: Hopkinson, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Williams, Dr G Jin, Dr C
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2017 Ends: 30 December 2020 Value (£): 783,931
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Lasers & Optics Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Mar 2017 EPSRC Manufacturing Prioritisation Panel March 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Information processing and communications enabled by advances in semiconductor technology are at the heart of the modern interconnected and application-driven world. Modern society has an enormous appetite for new platforms and services and meeting these demands places a considerable burden on device and systems development. Over the last 50 years, semiconductor manufacturing has met these demands through a scaling of device size to ever smaller dimensions. As a result, we now approach the true nanoscale regime and seek devices of size less than 10nm. The industry is however facing enormous technological and physical challenges to work at this precise scale, equivalent to only a few atomic layers. Yet with these challenges comes also enormous potential from emerging quantum device approaches which could dramatically increase in calculation capability, dramatically improve the security of data and to do this simultaneously with lower energy costs. Our well used semiconductor device production processes, based on epitaxy, patterning and etch will struggle to turn the promise of quantum technologies into manufacturable commercial devices. In contrast, we can grow naturally 'self assembled' structures with nanometer dimensions and from such materials we have extensively demonstrated quantum interactions. However self-assembly has an Achilles heel in that we cannot control the site or the dimensions because of random nucleation. As a result we cannot predict where the nanostructure is located nor its energy state. Unsurprisingly there has been very little development in terms of manufacturable devices utilising quantum technologies. What we need is an approach which combines the best aspects of patterning and self-assembly. The approach is directed (or site-controlled) self-assembly which uses lithography to define the site and then exploits self-assembly to produce the nanostructure.

Structuring with light is the manufacturing technology of the 21st century. Many products now involve cutting, milling, surface processing, sealing etc processes using laser light. Our approach seeks to exploit the capabilities of light at much smaller dimensions, specifically its capability to create regular patterns on a very small stage through the optical interference process. We will design and build a system in which laser interference interacts with semiconductor growth to create a single step in-situ manufacturing route which is free of all major limitations of conventional high cost, low throughput nanostructuring approaches. We will build and demonstrate a custom instrument in which an interference pattern from laser interference interacts with the semiconductor growth surface to nucleate self-assembled growth on a regular grid pattern. Such an arrangement is a key requirement for developing electronic and photonic circuits based on arrays of single nanostructures. The method has the further advantage of precisely controlling assembly such that the array contains identical nanostructures in terms of size, shape and electronic properties. Using this approach we will create large area state of the art quantum dot and quantum wire arrays which are essential building blocks for the semiconductor devices of the future, enabling diverse applications including electronics, photonics, sensing and biomedicine.
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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk