Project Overview

NIRT:Chemically Directed Surface Alignment and Wiring of Self-Assembled Nanoelectrical Circuits

# 0708347
John Harb (Principal Investigator)
Matthew Linford (Co-Principal Investigator)
Robert Davis (Co-Principal Investigator)
Adam Woolley (Co-Principal Investigator)
Dean Wheeler (Co-Principal Investigator)

An alternative to top-down fabrication of electrical circuits is to use self-assembly of molecules to form the smallest circuit structures, and combine these molecular circuits with interconnections fabricated by top-down techniques. The dimensions of molecules and molecular templates are such that devices with exceptionally narrow linewidths are possible. In addition, self-assembly is inherently parallel, making it amenable to high-throughput fabrication at reasonable cost. This project seeks to combine the complementary advantages of bottom-up self-assembly with top-down patterning, with the goal of developing a process for fabrication of nanoelectronic circuits.

To accomplish this objective, an interdisciplinary research group, ASCENT (ASsembled nanoCircuit Elements by Nucleic acid Templating), has been formed at BYU. Efforts are focused on the development and refinement of four key technologies: (1) solution-phase molecular circuit assembly, (2) high-resolution chemical surface patterning, (3) high-resolution metallization of molecular templates, and (4) chemically directed assembly and integration of molecular circuits on surfaces. Molecular circuits will be self-assembled in solution using customized DNA templates ("test-tube circuits"). DNA self-assembly is particularly powerful because of the large number of possible nucleic-acid sequences that enable highly selective bonding of DNA strands to each other and to other molecules. Chemomechanical patterning, a method that we have developed, will be used to chemically modify the SiO2 substrate. This chemical patterning will provide anchor points to attach and align the molecular circuits on the surface, as well as provide a means for local wiring to the anchored circuit, all with a resolution < 10 nm. Electroless metal plating of both the exposed DNA and chemically templated lines will then electrically connect active circuit elements to each other and to the larger-scale architecture. The net result will be DNA-templated molecular circuits that have been aligned and wired locally on an oxide surface. Interconnect technology similar to that used currently in the semiconductor industry can then be applied to create the larger global wiring needed for practical devices based on the proposed molecular circuits.

Broader impacts including a strong emphasis on undergraduate research, an outreach program to the local Hispanic community and others, and a multidisciplinary environment for graduate education. The potential societal impact of the technology is that it may provide an innovative solution to the semiconductor industry's need for greater resolution, and it does so using technologies that evolve naturally from and connect well to current microfabrication processes.

Source: NSF