Thursday, July 12, 2012

US Patent 8220068 - Nanowire scanning probe array

Scanning probe microscopes are used to analyze semiconductor features on a nanoscale. In order to analyze 3D surfaces and trenches carbon nanotubes have been used as the tips of the scanning probes but it is difficult to mass produce nanotube tipped probes. This patent from IBM teaches a micromachining method for producing nanowire tipped probes so as to facilitate mass production. Claim 1 reads:

1. A structure comprising an array of scanning probes located on a semiconductor wafer, each scanning probe of said array is orientated in a same direction on said semiconductor wafer and comprises:

a cantilever having a bottommost surface on an upper surface of said semiconductor wafer;

a micromachined single-crystal pyramid formed on said cantilever; and

a single-crystal nanowire extending from a top portion of said pyramid, wherein said nanowire is epitaxial with respect to said single-crystal pyramid.