Translation and manipulation of silicon nanomembranes using holographic optical tweezers
© Oehrlein et al; licensee Springer. 2011
Received: 1 August 2011
Accepted: 25 August 2011
Published: 25 August 2011
We demonstrate the use of holographic optical tweezers for trapping and manipulating silicon nanomembranes. These macroscopic free-standing sheets of single-crystalline silicon are attractive for use in next-generation flexible electronics. We achieve three-dimensional control by attaching a functionalized silica bead to the silicon surface, enabling non-contact trapping and manipulation of planar structures with high aspect ratios (high lateral size to thickness). Using as few as one trap and trapping powers as low as several hundred milliwatts, silicon nanomembranes can be rotated and translated in a solution over large distances.
Silicon nanomembranes are flexible, single-crystalline sheets with thicknesses ranging from less than ten up to several hundred nanometers [1, 2]. These materials are extremely attractive for use in fast-flexible-electronic, optoelectronic, and nanophotonic applications. This broad potential derives from the unique properties imparted by the membranes' thinness relative to silicon wafers, including robustness, flexibility, and bondability. The structures can also be strain engineered to enhance individual electronic and mechanical properties or to produce unique tubular and helical nanostructures [2–6]. Successful integration of these structures into next-generation devices will require new paradigms for their assembly. The most promising methods for transferring and manipulating silicon nanomembranes to date include wet transfer (whereby nanomembranes are moved from the original substrate in a solution via adhesive attachment to a new host), dry transfer, and stamp printing processes [7–9] As nanomembranes are made thinner and thus become more difficult to handle, mechanical means of manipulation are limited in their precision with regards to controllably placing individual membranes.
Holographic optical trapping [10–13] offers a promising new approach for manipulating silicon nanomembranes with a high degree of accuracy and precision that may circumvent some of the above issues. Optical tweezers use a single, tightly focused beam of light to manipulate micro- and nanoscale objects in three dimensions. The technique enables precise positional control in a non-contact and non-invasive fashion without damage to the trapped object . Holographic optical trapping uses an array of traps to extend these same capabilities to multiple points in space. Each trap can be independently and dynamically controlled in real time. Although holographic optical tweezers have been used to manipulate microspheres, nanowires, and arbitrarily shaped biological molecules [15–18] application to two-dimensional (planar) geometries has been limited to objects with low aspect ratios and with dimensions less than approximately 5-10 × 5-10 μm [19, 20] The nanomembranes used for this work have thicknesses of 220 nm and in-plane dimensions of 50 × 50 μm, giving edge length-to-thickness aspect ratios of over 200. We believe this is the first time high-aspect-ratio planar materials have been successfully manipulated using non-contact techniques.
Most recent work on trapping and manipulating semiconductor materials has focused on one-dimensional nanowires [21, 22], where the large index of refraction mismatches with the fluid medium complicates direct manipulation with the beam. Nanowires also tend to align along the axis of the laser and can be completely ejected from the trap, because of the overwhelming scattering force. This problem was recently circumvented for high-index vanadium oxide nanowires  using silica beads as a handle, the optical trapping of which has been well described in the literature . The attachment of beads is commonly used when working with biological materials, where the arbitrary shape of the molecule or damage from laser heating can preclude trapping [25, 26]. Wider application to directed assembly is limited, however, because removal of the handle has remained an issue: the manipulated object needed to be laser cut or damaged to achieve detachment or in other cases the covalently bonded bead could not be detached at all.
We present here a significant step forward, extending this initial work to the silicon nanomembranes described above. By attaching a single bead to the edge of a membrane, we achieve full three-dimensional control of large-area planar objects using optical tweezers. We furthermore succeed in reversible detachment of the handle bead without damage to the membrane, providing a substantial advantage over previous work. These capabilities will enable new, flexible routes for assembly of a variety of two-dimensional thin sheets of direct relevance to semiconductor, biotechnology, and sensor technologies.
Results and discussion
Once attached, the bead functions as a nanoscale trailer hitch, facilitating manipulation of the bead together with the nanomembrane. Using a single optical trap and the motorized stage, the nanomembrane can be translated laterally over millimeter distances with laser powers on the order of 200 to 700 mW as measured at the sample. Higher powers allow larger gradient forces and permit the trapped bead to be moved at greater velocities.
At powers higher than approximately 700 mW, we observe a break in the bond between the nanomembrane and microsphere, and the two structures become decoupled. Detachment is observed only if the laser power is greater than this minimum, and we reason that this results from laser heating in the immediate vicinity of the bead-silicon nanomembrane attachment site, weakening the coupling moiety, but we cannot at this stage determine where the break occurs. Most importantly, this decoupling process does not damage the nanomembrane and we can reattach the membrane to this or a new bead. The reversibility of our procedure is very encouraging for future work in nanomembrane assembly using optical tweezers.
where C D is the drag coefficient for a rectangular sheet as a function of area and Reynolds number, V is the velocity, ρ is the density of the solution, and A is the surface area of the nanomembrane [29, 30]. The resulting drag force at maximum velocity for the nanomembranes used in this work is approximately 0.5 pN, two orders of magnitude lower than the approximately 20 pN calculated for a 10-μm microsphere using Stokes's law, F D = 6πμRV . We expect that this magnitude difference allows for lateral translation of nanomembranes having much larger surface areas, with minimal effect on motion at similar high velocities.
In summary, we have used a functionalized-bead handle technique to translate and rotate high-lateral-size-to-thickness-aspect-ratio planar silicon nanomembranes in solution with holographic optical tweezers. The handle technique enables non-contact optical trapping of two-dimensional planar objects that could not otherwise be manipulated directly. Our approach permits individual nanomembrane positioning and transfer with unprecedented lateral control. The use of microspheres allows motion with well-documented nanometer-scale precision , while employing holographic optical trapping facilitates computer control of trajectories and enhanced positioning accuracy. We also demonstrated reversible attachment and detachment of handle beads without cutting or damaging the silicon material. We expect that this trapping method can be extended to manipulating silicon nanomembranes having larger lateral dimensions and differing thicknesses, in addition to the directed assembly of various other shapes and material compositions of planar objects with exceedingly small thickness [34–37]. The ability to tune the bond strength for membranes having different surface terminations may provide a future path for more selective, simultaneous manipulation of a variety of different planar materials. The successful use of holographic optical tweezers demonstrated here could be expanded to include massively parallel control over multiple nanomembranes, thus making heterostructure stacking and assembly a realizable goal. This simple proof of concept could eventually enable more advanced non-contact nanofabrication using nanomembranes as building blocks for two- and three-dimensional optical and electronic devices.
Fabrication of Si nanomembranes
The silicon nanomembranes, 220 nm thick, were fabricated from the template (outermost crystalline silicon) layer of commercially procured silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers (SOITEC S.A., Bernin, France) [38, 39]. The wafers were cleaned with acetone, methyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol prior to patterning with electron beam lithography to define the square boundaries of each nanomembrane. Reactive ion etching was employed to etch the template silicon layer along these boundaries followed by a wet etch in 49% hydrofluoric acid for 4 h to dissolve the underlying SiO2 layer. The wet etch causes the patterned, thin silicon membranes to release and settle on the silicon handle wafer, the bottom layer of the SOI. The patterned membranes were then removed from the handle wafer by immersion in isopropyl alcohol and re-suspended in de-ionized water via a solvent exchange, where they remained stably dispersed for several weeks.
This work was supported primarily by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Grant# FA9550-08-1-0337. SMO was supported by an Herb Fellowship from the Materials Science Program at UW-Madison. Facilities support by NSF, via the UW MRSEC, is acknowledged.
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