The resolution of lithography techniques needs to be extended beyond their current limits to continue the trend of miniaturization and enable new applications. But what is the ultimate spatial resolution? It is known that single atoms can be imaged with a highly focused electron beam. Can single atoms also be written with an electron beam? We verify this with focused electron-beam-induced deposition (FEBID), a direct-write technique that has the current record for the smallest feature written by (electron) optical lithography. We show that the deposition of an organometallic precursor on graphene can be followed molecule-by-molecule with FEBID. The results show that mechanisms that are inherent to the process inhibit a further increase in control over the process. Hence, our results present the resolution limit of (electron) optical lithography techniques. The writing of isolated, subnanometer features with nanometer precision can be used, for instance, for the local modification of graphene and for catalysis.
A C S Nano, 2012, Vol 6, Issue 11, p. 10076-10081
Single molecule; Local modification; Nanostructuring; In situ electron microscopy; Focused electron-beam-induced deposition