Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Nanotechnology 19 (2008), 345303 (5pp); doi 10.1088/0957-4484/19/34/345303 Copyright © 2008 IOP Publishing Ltd. Used by permission.


The authors have developed an approach to fabricate sharp and high aspect ratio metal tips using nanosecond pulse laser melting. A quartz wafer covered with a thin chromium (Cr) film was placed on top of a second wafer with a sub-micrometer gap between them and the Cr film facing the second wafer. Then an excimer laser pulse (308 nm wavelength, 20 ns pulse duration) was shone from the back of the quartz wafer and melted the Cr film momentarily (several hundred nanoseconds). It is found that the molten Cr films can self-form discrete metal pillars connecting the two wafers. After separating the two wafers, nanotips were formed at the broken pillar necks. The sharpest tip achieved has an apex diameter 10 nm and height 180 nm. The self-formation of Cr pillars between the two wafers was attributed to the attractive electrostatic force caused by the work function difference of two wafers that were in close proximity. This technique could be extended to other metals, and a periodic uniform tip array could be obtained by pre-patterning the metal into identical isolated mesas and precisely controlling the gap between the two wafers.