The most interest for the future is the possibility of creating functional nanostructures by combining bottom-up self-organisation of self-assembled nanoentities, which occur in solution, with top-down lithographic approaches such as e-beam lithography. The integration of the top-down and bottom-up methodologies, that has been termed precision chemical engineering, and is representing a new paradigm for creating nano structured surfaces, and is being actively pursued by a number of groups within the scientific and engineering communities. Significant progress in understanding the chemical and physical modifications of SAMs by e-beam irradiation has been achieved over the past decade. First demonstrations of SAM-based nanolithography exist using this technique, but their development into practical commercial methods for low cost, high-volume processing still requires great efforts. Several factors have to be considered as a collective in order to achieve such a major task. Future work should attempt to establish the ultimate resolution limits for patterning of SAMs using e-beam exposure sources. Sufficiently low exposure doses for nanopatterning will be also necessary to ensure adequate throughput during manufacture. Additionally, irradiation must yield well-defined surface products in sufficient quantities such that useful amounts of the desired nanoscale components can be subsequently and selectively attached onto the surface. A minimal number of post-irradiation high selective chemical attachment steps (ideally, a single step) using inexpensive, simple reagents will also be beneficial to minimise process cost.
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