VLSI NEMS chip for parallel AFM data storage

We report the microfabrication of a 32=  . 32 1024 2D cantilever array chip and its electrical testing. It has been designed for ultrahigh-density, high-speed data storage applications using thermomechanical writing and readout in thin polymer film storage media. The fabricated chip is the first very large scale integration VLSI -NEMS NanoEMS for nanotechnological applications. For electrical  .  . and thermal stability, the levers are made of silicon, and the heaterrsensor element is defined as a lower, doped platform with the tip on top. Freestanding cantilevers are obtained with surface-micromachining techniques, which yield better mechanical stability and heatsinking of the chip than bulk-micromachining releasing techniques do. Two-wiring levels interconnect the cantilevers for a time-multiplexed rowrcolumn addressing scheme. By integrating a Schottky diode in series with each cantilever, a considerable reduction of crosstalk between cantilevers has been achieved.

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. The smallness of single functional units, such as transistors and the large number of them integrated on one tiny chip, has resulted in complex, low-cost and high-speed electronic devices. In this century, the success story has been driven by the approach to the micrometer as the typical dimension of these functional units. In the next century, the challenge will be to approach the nanometer. At the same time, the potential of mechanical functionality on the micrometer and nanometer scale will be increasingly explored, possibly resulting ultimately in electromechanical hybrids, VLSI-MEMS, and later VLSI-NEMS. We present the first fabricated VLSI-NEMS chip for nanotechnology applications. The nanometer functionality of the device aiming at high-density and high-data-rate storage applications is inherited from the concept of local probes, in particular from atomic force microscopy AFM .  . AFM-based data storage is an interesting alternative to current magnetic data storage because it offers great potential for considerable storage density improvement compared to conventional magnetic storage techniques 1 . We w x have recently demonstrated storage densities up to 500 Gbitrin. by thermomechanical writing and thermal readout in thin polymer films with bit sizes and pitches of w x 30–40 nm 2 ; potential for even higher storage densities is realistic. This is about 20–25 times more than today’s best research demonstration with magnetic recording 3 . How- w x ever, the highest data rates achieved so far with single levers are 6 Mbitr w x s 4 . For most applications, this is not at all competitive with existing technologies such as mag- w x netic recording 3 . To improve the data rate beyond today’s capabilities, we are exploring very large AFM arrays with parallel operation of cantilevers. Recently, we have developed and fabricated a 32=  . 32 1024 2D cantilever array chip for AFM parallel application. It has a promising potential for high storage density and high data

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