Writing with an Electron Beam in Silver for the First Time

Re-Blogged From The Silver Institute
If you want to deposit extremely fine features onto another material, nothing
beats Electron-Beam-Induced Deposition or EBID. Although most people
haven’t heard of this process, it’s quite common in sophisticated manufacturing
products such as micro-miniature electronic components and equipment.
The process uses a scanning electron microscope to shoot a beam of electrons
that deposit or ‘write’ nanoparticles of gold, platinum, copper and other metals
except for silver — until now.

A team of German and Swiss scientists have succeeded in depositing silver
nanoparticles onto a plastic surface. This opens opportunities to produce highly
sensitive sensors for explosives or other toxic compounds because of silver’s
unparalleled reflective properties.
The scientists from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin for Materials and Energy in
Germany (HZB) and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science
and Technology found that writing with silver was challenging because silver
is difficult to evaporate and highly reactive during the depositing process. For
example, silver tends to combine with the reservoir walls of the injection unit
during heating. They solved the problem by designing a new injection unit and
using a different silver compound: silver dimethylbutyrate.
“It took us a lot of time and effort to design a new injection unit and find
a suitable silver compound,” said HZB team physicist Katja Höflich, PhD.,
in a prepared statement. “Finally, we managed it. The compound silver
dimethylbutyrate remains stable and dissociates only in the focus of the electron
beam.”
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