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A printing technique that could stamp out features just tens of nanometers across at industrial scale is finally moving out of the lab. The new roll-to-roll nanoimprint lithography system could be used to cheaply and efficiently churn out nano-patterned optical films to improve the performance of displays and solar cells.

Nano press: This 10-by-30-centimeter plastic sheet (top) has been patterned with a series of nanoscale polymer lines using roll-to-roll nanoimprint lithography (bottom). The film is iridescent because of the way its nanoscale features scatter light.
Credit: ACS Nano

Nanoimprint lithography uses mechanical force to press out a nanoscale pattern and can make much smaller features than optical lithography, which is reaching its physical limits. The technique was developed as a tool for miniaturizing integrated circuits, and a handful of companies, including Molecular Imprints of Austin, TX, are still developing it for this applicat

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