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Tedious, expensive post-growth assembly is no longer necessary.
A method of fabrication of wires having micron and submicron dimensions is built around electrochemical deposition of the wires in their final positions between electrodes in integrated circuits or other devices in which the wires are to be used. Heretofore, nanowires have been fabricated by a variety of techniques characterized by low degrees of controllability and low throughput rates, and it has been necessary to align and electrically connect the wires in their final positions by use of sophisticated equipment in expensive and tedious post-growth assembly processes. The present method is more economical, offers higher yields, enables control of wire widths, and eliminates the need for post-growth assembly. The wires fabricated by this method could be used as simple electrical conductors or as transducers in sensors. Depending upon electrodeposition conditions and the compositions of the electroplating solutions in specific applications, the wires could be made of metals, alloys, metal oxides, semiconductors, or electrically conductive polymers.

In this method, one uses fabrication processes that are standard in the semiconductor industry. These include cleaning, dry etching, low-pressure chemical vapor deposition, lithography, dielectric deposition, electron-beam lithography, and metallization processes as well as the electrochemical deposition process used to form the wires. In a typical case of fabrication of a circuit that includes electrodes between which microscopic wires are to be formed on a silicon substrate, the fabrication processes follow a standard sequence until just before the fabrication of the microscopic wires.

Then, by use of a thermal SiO-deposition technique, the electrodes and the substrate surface areas in the gaps between them are covered with SiO. Next, the SiO is electron-beam patterned, then reactive-ion etched to form channels having specified widths (typically about 1 µm or less) that define the widths of the wires to be formed. Drops of an electroplating solution are placed on the substrate in the regions containing the channels thus formed, then the wires are electrodeposited from the solution onto the exposed portions of the electrodes and into the channels. The electrodeposition is a room-temperature, atmospheric-pressure process. The figure shows an example of palladium wires that were electrodeposited into 1-mmwide channels between gold electrodes.

This work was done by Minhee Yun, Nosang Myung, and Richard Vasquez of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free online at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Manufacturing category.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

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Refer to NPO-40221, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

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In Situ Electrochemical Deposition of Microscopic Wires (reference NPO-40221) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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