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Enable Wins R&D 100 Award

ENABLE Wins R&D 100 Award

A scanning electron micrograph of tall (35:l aspect ratio), closelypacked, well-defined, 200-nm-diameter pillars etched with ENABLE into a polyimide film using nanospheres as a shadow mask.

Each year, R&D Magazine picks the 100 most significant technological advances in research and industry and honors them with awards that The Chicago Tribune called, “The Oscars or Invention.”

Chemistry Division staff have regularly contributed R&D 100 Award winners, and this year is no exception. Mark Hoffbauer’s team in CHEM-ACDI has won a 2006 R&D 100 Award for their innovative and amzingly versitile Energetic Neutral Atom Beam Lithography & Epitax (ENABLE) technology.

Employing an energetic collimated beam of neutral nitrogen or oxygen atoms, ENABLE comprises a dual-function nanofabrication technology capable of both growing thin films and etching high-aspect-ratio nanostructures. It is unique in that its low-temperature operation spares the activation of diffusive and other unwanted surface chemical changes that are drawbacks of existing nanofabrication processes. Because its high-aspect-ratio nanoscale etching and rapid high-quality film growth capabilities can be readily combined, ENABLE technology is theoretically capable of fabricating details down to 1 nm or less in size, giving it greater versatility than current nanofabrication processes.


o Wide bandgap semiconductors
o Solid-state lighting
o Ultraviolet and blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and lasers
o Multicolor flat-panel display technologies
o Room-temperature spintronic-based devices
o Photovoltaic devices
o Photonic crystal devices
o High-quality dielectrics (super capacitors)
o High-capacity microbatteries NEMS and MEMS structures
o Micro- and nanofluidics
o Nanowires


Low-Temperature Processing: Avoids ancillary damage to and alteration of delicate nanoscale components that are common problems caused by current nanofabrication techniques.

Rapid High-Quality Thin Film Growth: Delivers a very high flux of energetic atoms, yielding commercially feasible film growth rates exceeding 10 nmlmin for nitride and oxide materials.

Precise High-Aspect-Ratio Nanoscale Etching: Polymer etching rates of 100 nm/min or more with aspect ratios exceeding 35: 1 and critical feature sizes much less than 100 nm.

Versatility: Etching and thin film growth can be readily combined and the technology is theoretically capable of fabricating details down to 1 nm or less in size.

The team has three people. Team leader Mark Hoffbauer and postdoc Alexander H. Mueller are both in CHEM-ACDI. Former postdoc Elshsan Akhadov is a former is now with MPA-CINT.

The Lab won five R&D 100 Awards in 2006. To read about the other four, see the LANL news release.

Enable2 Enable3 Enable4
These three images illustrate examples of ENABLE‘s dual functionality for nanofabrication, involving etching and thin film growth. Left: etched, high-aspect-ratio, 400-nm- wide polyimide rows showing no discernable distortion, sidewall degradation, or undercutting; middle: etched sub-1 00-nm wide, high-aspect-ratio, regularly spaced sheets; right: nanocrystal- based light-emitting diode (LED) formed by low-temperature growth of a gallium nitride film.

posted 7/06 under LAUR 06-1252

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