|Sometimes you need to break things to fix them. Researchers from of Ewha
Womans University in Seoul, South Korea, have developed a way of
controlling patterns of cracks in silicon chips to create atomic-scale
features such as nano-channels.
The researchers etched a pattern of notches into a silicon wafer and
deposited a layer of silicon nitride on top. The notches set up stresses
within the nitride layer that cause it to crack in line with the
underlying wafer's crystal structure, which acts as a guide.
The nano-cracks could serve as channels for lab-on-a-chip type
applications such as single-molecule sensing. Electron beams are
currently used to etch atomic-scale patterns, but this is time-consuming
and expensive. By contrast, cracks form instantaneously, according to