Getting tinier and tinier–nano for optical lithography

At an international conference in Cleveland, Ohio this week, nanoscientists from around the world are meeting with nano-lovers from industry and academia. One of the speakers during aerospace day technical sessions mentioned nano-geo-bio-chemistry–talk about your cross-functional sciences–being able to determine how a small item found in a cave affects the evolution of the earth. He then went on–in dulcet descriptions of complex formulae that only fellow scientists could hope to decipher–to describe in great detail his company’s nano-work in optical lithography. I didn’t have a clue what optical lithography was, so in case you don’t either, maybe this from an IBM research website will help.

An audience member asked the speaker (thank God) to say what this could mean in real-world applications. “Beyond semiconductors and photonics,” he said, they are “concentrating light in higher density than existing techniques for LEDs [possibly for those outdoor electronic billboards popping up everywhere–and creating traffic hazarads if you ask me] and other major applications.” The nanochannels he showed will “make things for medical diagnosis and repair.” Now we’re talking…

But ethical considerations were on everyone’s minds. Many questions from the audience related to what’s being done to control the new variety of contamination that nanoparticle dust will unquestionably cause. No one had any answers–just that everyone’s aware of the potential danger. More here.