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Posted: September 14, 2007

NanoInk's High-Throughput Dip Pen Nanolithography

(Nanowerk News) In our recent Spotlight on nanoparticle printing – Gutenberg's grandchildren in nanotechnology labs – we wrote that "...for automated patterning of particles, existing methods are either slow (e.g., dip-pen lithography) or require prefabricated patterns on the target substrate...". This statement of course completely ignored the advanced and fast Dip Pen Nanolithography technology developed at NanoInk, Inc.
Two recent papers by Chad Mirkin at Northwestern University describe the success in applying this massively parallel nanopatterning technology – "Massively Parallel Dip–Pen Nanolithography with 55000-Pen Two-Dimensional Arrays" in Angewandte Chemie International and "Massively Parallel Dip-Pen Nanolithography of Heterogeneous Supported Phospholipid Multilayer Patterns" in Small.
At NanoInk, a great deal of their recent Dip Pen Nanolithography development has centered around the 2D nano PrintArray™ (pdf download, 1.1 MB), which is a breakthrough technology for hugely increasing the throughput of DPN. 
This is a commercially available product, and makes DPN a high-throughput, flexible and versatile method for precision nanoscale pattern formation.  This flexibility and versatility are several key advantages of DPN relative to the approach described in our Spotlight article.
Moreover, by fabricating 55,000 tip-cantilevers across a 1 cm2 chip, NanoInk leverages the inherent versatility of DPN and demonstrates large area surface coverage, routinely achieving throughputs of 3x107 µm2 per hour (i.e., rates competing with, or even exceeding e-beam lithography.)  
The NanoInk system patterns sub-100 nm feature sizes with excellent uniformity (standard deviation < 16%), and with DPN’s characteristic variety of molecules.  Applications include: 
1) rapidly and flexibly generating nanostructures (i.e., Au, Si) via etch resist techniques; 
2) chemically directed assembly and patterning templates for either biological molecules (i.e., proteins, viruses, cell adhesion complexes), or inorganics (i.e., carbon nanotubes, quantum dots); and
3) directly writing biological materials.
So, while in the early days of single tip DPN patterning it was a “slow” technique, is is no longer the case.