Exploration of the ultimate patterning potential achievable with high resolution focused ion beams
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- Gierak, J., Mailly, D., Hawkes, P. et al. Appl. Phys. A (2005) 80: 187. doi:10.1007/s00339-004-2551-z
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Controlled and reproducible fabrication of nano-structured materials will be one of the main industrial challenges in the next few years. We have recently proposed exploitation of the nano-structuring potential of a high resolution Focused Ion Beam Tool, to overcome basic limitations of current nano-fabrication techniques. The aim of this article is to present some new routes for material patterning, which benefit from ion-induced local property modifications or damage. In the experiments we describe hereafter an ultra-sharp pencil of 30 keV gallium ions is used to tailor the characteristics of several materials at a scale of a few nanometres. The experimental results are then compared to simulations. First, we simulate the control of collisional defects generated in a thin magnetic layer under FIB irradiation. The results explain the stable magnetic structures we have obtained experimentally. This was achieved with a low surface ion dose (1012 to 1014 ions/cm2). In addition we have explored the promising direction of “Bottom-up” or “self-organization” processes using a FIB instrument. We have defined artificial surface defects. These defects created by the impact of an 8-nm FWHM probe were used to pin the diffusion and to organize nanometre-sized gold clusters on a graphite surface.