Tiny Tech #31: 3D Nanoprinting with an Electron Beam Pen

Today from the world of Tiny Tech:

These days, you can use a 3D printer to make almost anything – from a missing part for a broken toy to a prosthetic leg! Zooming down to the nanoscale, scientists are also developing ways of using 3D printing to make very tiny objects.

A technique called “focused electron beam induced deposition” shoots a tiny beam of electrons at a nanosized area of a surface. When this is done in the presence of gas molecules that contain metal atoms, the electron beam causes the metal atoms to deposit onto the surface. The electron beam can be moved around to make nanostructures in any shape imaginable.

The technique is already being used to repair photomasks, which are used to make computer chips, and to alter prototypes of chips during design. In the future, this nano 3D printing technique could be used to make nanotools such as nanotweezers that could grab individual molecules and manipulate them. And the technique could be used to make the key components in a new type of powerful computer called a quantum computer.

That would be a real reason to pay attention to the small print!

Tiny Tech is made possible by the National Science Foundation and WUFT.  To learn more about Tiny Tech, go to tinytechradio.org.

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