Scientists at the Molecular Foundry in the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have managed to combine speed with unconceivable accuracy, and thereby found a new way of printing nanoscale image probes onto the tip of a glass fiber, which can be utterly thin, comparable to a human hair. With this development, the production of new medical and electrical devices can be accelerated significantly from some a month to quite a few per day.

Nanoimprinting a Boon for Pharmaceutical and Energy Sector

Nanoimprinting as it is called, this new fabrication technique promises to open new avenues for vast adoption of nan-optical structures pertaining to manipulation of light-beam in manners that are impossible via conventional optics. Nanoimprinting has the potential to revolutionize imaging, spectroscopy, and sensing, and may even aid in designing better drugs, enhancing solar cells, and making faster semiconductors. However, commercial use of this technology is still in doubts, owing to it being a highly time consuming production method.

Nanoimprinting a Solution for Mass-fabrication Method

The concept of nanoimprinting is an extension of Campanile probe, which was developed by Molecular Foundry in 2013-14. Initially, it took the team at Berkeley National Laboratory a month to build the probe sculpture with an ion beam, but they wanted to take it beyond research application and into commercial use of nanofabrication. With a tapered, four-angled shape that resembles the top of the clock tower at Campanile, the probe focuses on powerful beam of light onto a tiny spot, which is possible via current optics. This helps in spectroscopic imaging at a resolution of hundred times superior than conventional spectroscopy, which is able to map only the average composition of a material. On the other hand, nanoimprinting can image each molecule in the structure of nanoparticles and several other materials, and may be used to examine negligible defects. Improved nanowires can be very useful in increasing the efficiency of solar cells.