Modern construction is a precision endeavor. Builders must use components manufactured to meet particular standards — similar to beams of a desired composition or rivets of a specific dimension. The constructing trade depends on producers to create these parts reliably and reproducibly with a purpose to construct secure bridges and sound skyscrapers.
Now think about building at a smaller scale — lower than 1/100th the thickness of a piece of paper. That is nanoscale. It’s the scale at which scientists are working to develop doubtlessly groundbreaking technologies in fields like quantum computing. It’s also a scale the place conventional fabrication strategies merely will not work. Our standard tools, even miniaturized, are too bulky and too corrosive to manufacture parts at the nanoscale reproducibly.
Researchers on the College of Washington have developed a technique that would make reproducible manufacturing on the nanoscale possible. The staff tailored a light-primarily based expertise employed extensively in biology — often called optical traps or optical tweezers — to function in a water-free liquid surrounding of carbon-rich natural solvents, thereby enabling new potential applications.
Because the crew reviews in a paper printed Oct. 30 within the journal Nature Communications, the optical tweezers act as a light-based “tractor beam” that may assemble nanoscale semiconductor supplies exactly into more prominent buildings. In contrast to the tractor beams of science fiction, which seize spaceships, the team employs the optical tweezers to entice amounts that are almost one billion times shorter than a meter.
“It is a new method to nanoscale manufacturing,” said co-senior creator Peter Pauzauskie, a UW associate professor of materials science and engineering, school member on the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute and the Institute for Nano-engineered Systems, and a senior scientist on the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.