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  Additional Projects

IBM conducts Nanotechnology and Nanoscience research in a broad array of areas. Here are some additional projects with ongoing research.

For a more complete list, please return to the IBM Research Nanotechnology Homepage.

  Di-block copolymer templates
Self-organizing di-block copolymer thin films provide a low-cost, efficient means to engineer nanometer-scale structures over large wafer areas. We have developed a broad set of fabrication processes based on these polymer templates, including pattern transfer by reactive-ion etching, chemical etching, and metal deposition. We believe this technique can be used quite generally as a high-resolution patterning step in the fabrication of more complicated device structures. We are currently investigating possibilities for the diblock copolymer patterning process in semiconductor devices, spin-dependent electronic devices, magnetic media, and biology.

  Molecular Devices
Here we focus on the chemical and physical properties of molecular assemblies and devices. Efforts to fabricate devices based on active molecular components have been driven by both the fundamental interest in using chemistry to build function at the molecular level and the technological expectation of the end of Moore's law (describing scaling in silicon technology).

Why molecules?
  • Molecules maybe chemically synthesized with a wide-range of interesting physical properties, they have natural tendency to self-assemble, and their nanometer dimensions enable fundamental physical limits to be explored.
  • Synthetic chemistry is used to build molecular materials from the bottom-up (from its atomic constituents) and to prepare many copies (~1023) of the same molecule in parallel. The flexibility in the chemistry of molecular materials may be used to prepare molecules with a wide-range of interesting electronic, optical, and magnetic properties. The molecules may be functionalized to direct their assembly onto metal and oxide surfaces and to control the electronic coupling between molecules and metal electrodes.
  • One of the most desirable properties of molecules is their ability to self-assemble under natural forces into structures organized on the nanometer scale and onto specific substrate surfaces.

How to build molecular devices?
  • A wide-range of experimental techniques is required to understand the electronic properties of individual molecules and molecular assemblies. These techniques range from scanning tunneling microscopy to optical spectroscopies and electronic measurements.
  • Incorporating molecules into two- and three-terminal devices is no small feat. We are exploring routes to process nanometer scale device structures that allow the reliable characterization and fabrication of molecular devices.

The flexibility in the synthesis and assembly of molecular systems, the functionality and physical properties that may be designed into and achieved in molecules, and the vision of devices with molecular dimensions makes molecular devices exciting prospects for future memory and electronic applications.

One example of an interesting self-organizing system is a thin film composed of nanocrystals. We use high-temperature solution-phase chemistry to produce metallic nanocrystals surrounded by an organic coat. Through careful size-selective processing, we make solutions containing nanocrystals which are extremely uniform in size. Currently we are working to create large-area monolayer thin films of magnetic nanocrystals, and to understand both their magnetic and electronic properties.

  Organic Transistors
IBM has been a leader in polymer and organic electronics research. We have demonstrated one of the highest carrier mobility organic thin-film transistors (based on the organic semiconductor pentacene), with performance comparable to amorphous silicon. Potential applications are large area electronics (e.g. electronic papers, print circuitry, displays, bulletin boards, and smart cards) that can be fabricated on flexible substrates (such as plastics) and manufactured at low cost (such as roll-to-roll processing).

Examples of Organic Electronics Research

Additional Information

  Photonic Crystals
The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a technology for on-chip integration of ultra-small circuits for manipulating the light signals, similar to the way electrical signals are manipulated in computer chips. These are artificial nanostructures called "photonic crystals” that can provide the required ultimate confinement of light down to a diffraction limit. This allows one to manipulate photons in a controllable way, leading to on-chip ultra dense integration. These materials consist of a periodic repetition of dielectric elements ("atoms" of the structure), analogous to the way atoms form a lattice of usual solids. This phenomenon is very analogous to the electronic band gap in semiconductors. Resembling their electronic counterparts, photonic crystals are often called "photonic semiconductors".

The important part of this project is to design and test nanophotonic circuits, which can leverage IBM's expertise in microelectronic circuit fabrication. Eventually the development of the nanophotonic technology compatible with CMOS fabrication line could result in cheap mass production of photonic integrated circuits. From this point of view, the most attractive and promising way of fabricating photonic crystals is to drill a periodic array of holes in a thin silicon layer in SOI structure as a one shown in the figure. The layer itself is served as a waveguide, and light is confined in the plane by total internal reflection. Within the plane, however, the propagation of light is governed by the photonic band gap defined by a periodic lattice of holes. The wire for transmission of light signals then can be formed by omitting one row of holes in the lattice. The cross-section of this waveguide is only a half wavelength wide. The ability to guide the light around 90 degree sharp corners makes this novel type of waveguide a crucial part of future integrated optical circuits.

Silicon Nanophotonics


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