Nanolithography Technique that uses Humidity Instead of Electricity
One of the methods to produce certain nanotechnologies relies on nanolithography techniques, which are able to etch specific patterns into materials. For computer components a photolithography system is used which can create features just tens of nanometers large, but that is not the most viable technique for all nanotechnologies, such as some biomedical devices. Researchers at North Carolina State University however have developed a new nanolithographic technique is not only cheaper than others used for producing biomedical technology, but does so without using electricity.
This new technique uses two small cantilevers with special spheres or spores at the end. These spheres and spores are coated with ink, which is allowed to dry, but when actually using them, the point is to get the objects wet. By increasing the humidity within the chamber containing the cantilevers, the objects at the end can be made to swell as they absorb the moisture. By having one object larger than the other, when dry, the effects of the moisture can be different between the two. This allows for one or both objects to be in contact, depending on what the user wants.
By using humidity to control whether the cantilever bends and the spheres and/or spores touch the material, this method does not require specialized electronic components for manipulating the cantilevers. This enables a reduction in cost for the technique, which the researchers say could be used to fabricate patterns onto tissue.