Wednesday, June 20, 2007

US Patent 7233101 - Steerable nanowire E-beams

Electron emitting nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes and nanocrystalline diamond are finding many applications in flat panel displays, x-ray sources, microwave amplifiers, and E-beam lithography. Some of the key advantages of using nanomaterials for electron emission are:

a) there is a low threshold voltage necessary for the emission which can lead to more energy efficient products (example: cell phones using field emission based displays would require less frequent charging)

b) these materials are gradually being integrated with semiconductor processing methods and circuits which can ultimately reduce cost and size of any products using E-beams for their operation (example: handheld electron microscopes)

c) high density arrays of electron emitters are able to be formed from nanostructures allowing for parallel processing which can make certain applications operate more quickly (example: E-beam lithography, which is primarily limited due to the serial nature of scanning the E-beam, can be tremendously enhanced by the use of closely spaced carbon nanotube emitters working in parallel)

This patent from Samsung is directed to the individual positioning control of parallel arrays of nanowire field emitters. Claim 1 reads:

1. A substrate-supported array of spaced-apart nanowires comprising: a substrate; and disposed upon the substrate a plurality of spaced-apart, aligned and individually steerable nanowires having a ratio of a nanowire spacing to a nanowire height of at least 0.2 and a nanowire diameter in the a range of 1 500 nanometers, wherein the nanowire height is in a range of 0.1 to 200 micrometers, and a ratio of the nanowire height to the nanowire diameter is between approximately 4,500 and 10,000.

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