A process for fabricating atom-thin processors can be used to produce at the nanoscale for smaller and faster semiconductors.
Lithography using a probe heated above 100 °C was used to fabricate metal electrodes on 2D semiconductors such as molybdenum disulfide (MoS). Such transitional metals are among the materials that may supplant silicon for atomically small chips. The fabrication method — called thermal scanning probe lithography (t-SPL) — offers a number of advantages over electron beam lithography (EBL).
Thermal lithography significantly improves the quality of the 2D transistors, offsetting the Schottky barrier, which hampers the flow of electrons at the intersection of metal and the 2D substrate. Also, unlike EBL, the thermal lithography allows chip designers to easily image the 2D semiconductor and then pattern the electrodes where desired. Also, t-SPL fabrication systems promise significant initial savings as well as operational costs. They dramatically reduce power consumption by operating in ambient conditions, eliminating the need to produce high-energy electrons and to generate an ultra-high vacuum. Finally, thermal fabrication can be easily scaled up for industrial production by using parallel thermal probes.
The t-SPL method could take most fabrication out of cleanrooms and into individual laboratories. The t-SPL tools with sub-10-nanometer resolution run on standard 120-volt power in ambient conditions.