Local electric field direct writing – Electron-beam lithography and mechanism

Nan Jiang, Dong Su, John Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Local electric field induced by a focused electron probe in silicate glass thin films is evaluated by the migration of cations. Extremely strong local electric fields can be obtained by the focused electron probe from a scanning transmission electron microscope. As a result, collective atomic displacements occur. This newly revised mechanism provides an efficient tool to write patterned nanostructures directly, and thus overcome the low efficiency of the conventional electron-beam lithography. Applying this technique to silicate glass thin films, as an example, a grid of rods of nanometer dimension can be efficiently produced by rapidly scanning a focused electron probe. This nanopatterning is achieved through swift phase separation in the sample, without any post-development processes. The controlled phase separation is induced by massive displacements of cations (glass modifiers) within the glass-former network, driven by the strong local electric fields. The electric field is induced by accumulated charge within the electron probed region, which is generated by the excitation of atomic electrons by the incident electron. Throughput is much improved compared to other scanning probe techniques. The half-pitch spatial resolution of nanostructure in this particular specimen is 2.5 nm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-14
Number of pages7
JournalMicroelectronic Engineering
StatePublished - Oct 5 2017


  • Composition modulation
  • Local electric field
  • Nano-patterning
  • STEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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