The development of chemical sensors based on nanostructures, such as nanotubes or nanowires, depends on the capability to reproducibly control the processing of the sensor. Alignment and consistent electrical contact of nanostructures on a microsensor platform is challenging. This can be accomplished using labor‐intensive approaches, specialized processing technology, or growth of nanostructures in situ. However, the use of standard microfabrication techniques for fabricating nanostructured microsensors is problematic. The purpose of this paper is to address this challenge using standard photoresist processing combined with dielectrophoresis.
Nanostructures are suspended in photoresist and aligned between opposing sawtooth electrode patterns using an alternating current (AC) electric field (dielectrophoresis). The use of photoresist processing techniques allow the burying of the nanostructures between layers of metal, thus improving the electrical contact of the nanostructures to the microsensor platform.
This approach is demonstrated for both multi‐walled carbon nanotubes and tin oxide nanowires. Preliminary data show the electrical continuity of the sensor structure as well as the response to various gases.
It is concluded that this approach demonstrates a foundation for a new tool for the fabrication of microsensors using nanostructures, and can be expanded towards enabling the combination of common microfabrication techniques with nanostructured sensor development.
This approach is intended to address the significant barriers of deposition control, contact robustness, and simplified processing to realizing the potential of nanotechnology as applied to sensors.
Hunter, G., Vander Wal, R., Evans, L., Xu, J., Berger, G., Kullis, M. and Biaggi‐Labiosa, A. (2012), "Nanostructured material sensor processing using microfabrication techniques", Sensor Review, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 106-117. https://doi.org/10.1108/02602281211209392
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