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article imageNanotech used to produce silk

By Tim Sandle     Apr 3, 2014 in Science
Engineers have demonstrated that it is possible to generate nanostructures from silk in an environmentally friendly process.
Nanofabrication is at the heart of manufacture of semiconductors and other electronic and photonic devices. Seeking great improvements, researchers have turned their attention to artificial silk. Silk is an ideal a candidate material to replace plastics in many high-technology applications.
According to the research note, nanofabrication involves high-resolution patterning with features so small that they have at least one dimension no larger than 100 nanometers (nm)—the size of particles filtered out by surgical masks (a nanometer is a millionth of a millimeter). Nanoscale fabrication is usually obtained depositing thin films of customized polymers, called "resists," onto silicon wafers. Each resist layer is successively patterned by using light or electrons (via electron beam lithography) to expose the part of the resist not covered by a mask.
Nanofabrication is of interest to computer engineers because it opens the door to super-high-density microprocessor and memory chips. It has been suggested that each data bit could be stored in a single atom
The process is termed ‘environmentally friendly’ because it uses water as a developing agent and standard fabrication techniques. Thus the process provides a green alternative to the toxic materials commonly used in nanofabrication.
The project was a carried out at Tufts University. The findings have been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, in a paper titled “All Water-based Electron Beam Lithography Using Silk as a Positive, Negative and Biofunctional Resist”.
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