Some of the much fabled technology of HP Labs is getting
licensed out to a firm interested in making nanoscale electronics.
Specifically, Nanolithosolutions of Carlsbad, Calif. has licensed from HP a
technology process called nanoimprint lithography (NIL) – a method of literally
stamping out patterns of wires less than 50 atoms wide on a substrate.
HP Labs researchers created NIL technology, which has
enabled the fabrication of laboratory prototype circuits with wire widths of 15
“Because HP and other companies need unique tools to conduct
nanoscale research and development, we created the underlying technology that
makes this tool possible,” said Stan Williams, HP Senior Fellow and director,
Quantum Science Research, HP Labs. “But we rely on innovative companies like
Nanolithosolutions to do the additional engineering necessary to make
user-friendly tools commercially available. This will help create future
generations of chips that will go beyond the capabilities of today’s
fabrication technologies at an affordable cost.”
Nanolithosolutions has developed a tool based on HP’s
technology, which consists of a module that fits into a mask aligner. The
module is used to create the patterns for wires and transistors on a substrate.
The tool is simple and inexpensive to use and turns commonly available mask
aligners into high-resolution NIL machines.
Once the NIL “master” is created, copies can be stamped out
quickly and inexpensively, like manufacturing CDs or phonograph records. The
patterns are then filled in with metals for the wires.
“By building on HP’s extensive research in nanoimprint
lithography, we believe we have a tool that will enable reliable, repeatable
processes for exploring biochips, photonics chips and many other applications,”
said Bo Pi, chief executive officer, Nanolithosolutions. “We believe this will
be an extremely useful tool for academic and commercial users worldwide because
it will be about a tenth the cost of current technology.”