Currently, only in semiconductor industry, nanofabrication is applied to greater extent. Also the chemical industry is working with particles and pigments, but it mostly leans into the realm of chemistry.
Nanofabrication is the design and manufacturing of one-, two-, or three-dimensional nanostructures in different contexts including photonics, electronics, medical, energy, etc. Nanofabrication requires a high degree of functionality and structural hierarchy and complexity.
When we talk about nanofabrication, it will include –
- Using nanotechnology to manufacture nanoscale structures (e.g., dip-pen nanolithography).
- Making nanoscale objects with special properties (e.g., quantum dot synthesis)
- Incorporating nanoscale objects into larger objects to enable special functionality (e.g., graphene into electronic or sensor devices)
- Assembling nanoscale objects into more complex structures (e.g., DNA origami-directed assembly)
There are two ways to fabricate the functional nanostructure, namely – top-down and bottom-up nanofabrication.
Lithographic patterning technique is the most common top-down approach. In this technique, no assembly is required. The parts are both patterned and built-in place. Photolithography is a standard one which is used for the manufacturing of semiconductors. For large scale production of nanoparticles, nanoimprint lithography is used. Electron Beam Lithography generates sub-10 nanometer features, but due to its relatively low throughput, it is restricted to commercial use.
Bottom-up nanofabrication techniques aren’t standalone but are the combination of thermodynamics and kinetics processes before obtaining the desired results. In this, there is no requirement of expensive tools, but only the application of the tools of quantum dots, chemical synthesis, metallic nanowires, etc. Self-Assembly is one of the bottom-up approaches.
The self-assembly process requires the self assembly of the desired patterns and funtions. This way a controlled and directed fabrication process is conducted.
These two approaches contain different techniques. Nanofabrication has a wide scope in many industries as nothing heavy can really live long in this advancing world. Engineering and controlling systems is one of the important parts of nanotechnology and is the future.