Shih-Chi Chen’s revolutionary research in nanoscale fabrication challenges existing limitations. With a remarkable fabrication resolution, rate, cost, and material variety, Chen’s approach enables the creation of nanoscale devices, photonic circuits, and metamaterial devices. Unlike traditional methods such as two-photon lithography and electron-beam lithography, Chen’s platform achieves unprecedented speed, cost-effectiveness, and material diversity. This breakthrough not only propels nanotechnology and biotechnology forward but also holds immense potential for healthcare, clean energy, computing, and more. Chen’s work opens doors to game-changing technologies that were once deemed unattainable.
Which wall does your research break?
My research breaks the wall of 3D nanoscale fabrication by providing a record-setting fabrication resolution (20 nanometers), rate (400 mm3/hour), cost (US$ 1.5/mm3), and material variety (i.e., metals, alloys, polymers, semiconductors, oxides, diamond, upconversion materials, 2D materials, molecular crystals, and biomaterials). This means we are able to prototype and manufacture nanoscale devices (e.g., lasers), photonic circuits, and metamaterial devices for practical applications that were not previously possible. Note that the present nano-scale prototyping methods, i.e., two-photon lithography, are slow (0.1 mm3/hour), expensive (20 mm3/hour), and largely limited to printing polymers. Although electron-beam lithography offers 10-nm resolution, it is slow, expensive, and can only fabricate 2D structures; the high cost and low fabrication rate largely limit the applications of these technologies to research and at laboratory scale.
What inspired or motivated you to work on your current research or project?
Our work was inspired by the constant yet critical need for new fabrication solutions for nanotechnology, biotechnology, and the engineering industry.
In what ways does society benefit from your research?
Manufacturing is the foundation of engineering innovation. Development of new and disruptive manufacturing technologies often substantially lowers the manufacturing cost or provides new methods to fabricate structures/devices not previously possible, resulting in the creation of new technologies and businesses. Our fabrication platform provides an effective and low-cost solution to scale up the fabrication of functional micro- and nano-structures. This means our technology may play a large role in fields such as healthcare, clean energy and water, computing, and telecommunications.
Looking ahead, what are your hopes or aspirations for the future based on your research or project?
We are hoping and expecting to see game-changing technologies realized on our femtosecond fabrication platform, such as metamaterial devices, photonic circuits, and invisible cloaks for visible light.