Traditionally, nanofabrication is a 2D process, where materials get deposited and removed sequentially to produce devices like transistors. Implosion Fabrication (ImpFab) is a 3D nanofabrication technique, a novel method of fabrication used to make nanoscale devices. It utilizes a hydrogel as a support structure, which then undergoes a laser to create a pattern of any 3D geometry into the hydrogel; this is a process called lithography. On top of this patterned 3D geometry, a variety of materials like metals, polymers and even semiconductors can be deposited into the region. The type of material can vary depending on the application of the device you are making. For example, you can deposit silver onto the patterned region to make silver nanowires. After the material is deposited, it is dehydrated and shrunken, and these gels can shrink up to 20 times their original size. This is how we get the patterned region down to the nanoscale to create nano-electronics and nano-materials. A current major application of this type of technology is to create integrated optical circuits and optical components. This technology reduces the need for high resolution patterning, which requires expensive equipment and must be performed inside a clean room. ImpFab is done on the macroscale, and then condensed and shrunken to nanoscale.
Written by: Rene Lam