Nanoskiving: A new method to produce arrays of nanostructures

Qiaobing Xu, Robert M. Rioux, Michael D. Dickey, George M. Whitesides

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


(Figure Presented) This Account reviews nanoskiving - a new technique that combines thinfilm deposition of metal on a topographically contoured substrate with sectioning using an ultramicrotome - as a method of fabricating nanostructures that could replace conventional top-down techniques in selected applications. Photolithography and scanning beam lithography, conventional top-down techniques to generate nanoscale structures and nanostructured materials, are useful, versatile, and highly developed, but they also have limitations: high capital and operating costs, limited availability of the facilities required to use them, an inability to fabricate structures on nonplanar surfaces, and restrictions on certain classes of materials. Nanoscience and nanotechnology would benefit from new, low-cost techniques to fabricate electrically and optically functional structures with dimensions of tens of nanometers, even if (or perhaps especially if) these techniques have a different range of application than does photolithography or scanning beam lithography. Nanoskiving provides a simple and convenient procedure to produce arrays of structures with cross-sectional dimensions in the 30-nm regime. The dimensions of the structures are determined by (i) the thickness of the deposited thin film (tens of nanometers), (ii) the topography (submicrometer, using soft lithography) of the surface onto which the thin film is deposited, and (iii) the thickness of the section cut by the microtome (≥30 nm by ultramicrotomy). The ability to control the dimensions of nanostructures, combined with the ability to manipulate and position them, enables the fabrication of nanostructures with geometries that are difficult to prepare by other methods. The nanostructures produced by nanoskiving are embedded in a thin epoxy matrix. These epoxy slabs, although fragile, have sufficient mechanical strength to be manipulated and positioned; this mechanical integrity allows the nanostructures to be stacked in layers, draped over curved surfaces, and suspended across gaps, while retaining the in-plane geometry of the nanostructures embedded in the epoxy. After removal of the polymer matrix by plasma oxidation, these structures generate suspended and draped nanostructures and nanostructures on curved surfaces. Two classes of applications, in optics and in electronics, demonstrate the utility of nanostructures fabricated by nanoskiving. This technique will be of primary interest to researchers who wish to generate simple nanostructures, singly or in arrays, more simply and quickly than can be accomplished in the clean-room. It is easily accessible to those not trained in top-down procedures for fabrication and those with limited or no access to the equipment and facilities needed for photolithography or scanning-beam fabrication. This Account discusses a new fabrication method (nanoskiving) that produces arrays of metal nanostructures. The defining process in nanoskiving is cutting slabs from a polymeric matrix containing embedded, more extended metal structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1566-1577
Number of pages12
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 16 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry


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