Allows intense, localized, rapid and controlled one-time heating of nanostructures with the potential for repeated heating through the delivery of a controlled flow of reactants.



Active use of heat to alter the geometry, structure and properties of solids is central to material removal, deposition, joining, shaping and transformation processes in macroscale manufacturing. In modern nanoscale engineering, however, similar thermal routes appear to encroach upon fundamental technical limits. In microelectronics, for example, rapid thermal processing (RTP) of semiconductor wafers in lamp or hotwall reactors is routinely used, but typically poses constraints to the process sequence because of the destructive consequences of long “thermal budgets” to sensitive pre-fabricated device structures. In general, such limitations arise because the characteristic lengths and times of heat transfer in macroscale reactors by traditional sources are incompatible with the spatial/temporal dimensions of nanoscale structures and phenomena. Therefore, there is an outstanding need for new disruptive heat source technologies, enabling fine local selectivity and time-exposure control in thermal processing at the nanoscale level. Such heat sources will revolutionize manufacturing, as well as on-board thermal actuation and autonomous powering during operation of miniature devices and systems.


UMass Lowell faculty, Julie Chen along with her collaborators from Northeastern University and the University of Cyprus, have invented a nanoscale heat source (or Nano-Heater) which allows intense, localized, rapid and controlled one-time heating of nanostructures with the potential for repeated heating through the delivery of a controlled flow of reactants [1]. This invention introduces a revolutionary development in nanothechnology and nanomanufacturing. The nano-heater exploits exothermic material transformations of reactive thin films separated by nano-thick dielectric interlayers with transverse nano-channel pores. The nano-heater technology utilizes significant advances in nanoscience research to address the current technical constraints with thermal heating in nanomanufacturing [2]. The selectivity and control of Nano-Heaters will lead to dramatic reduction in thermal budgets and superior processing quality in annealing, oxidation and chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of semiconductors.  Thermal self-processing of electronics with layered sources patterns will obviate the compromised performance and expense of rapid thermal processing (RTP) reactors and furnaces.  Up to now, the need for external connections with macroscale power supplies has negated many of the benefits of miniaturization.


Localized heating and localized control
The entire collection of macro-thermal manufacturing processes (welding, molding, ablation, etc.) will be scaled-down to nanoscale production and research
Even distribution of heat to a precise location
Unique properties of nanostructured and nanocomposite materials are preserved and protected from crude heat treatment
Continuous or recurring flow of heat to specific locations
Thermal release can be reduced or increased by controlling the flow of Al by using an external DC bias current
Customized “heating islands”
The “heating islands” can be ignited with an electrical current or other ignition method
Non- destructive impact on the other components of the overall system
Engineered tissues can be made available for custom perfusion by cells and biomolecules in regenerative medicine.

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