Posts Tagged ‘Nanofabrication’

Beautiful Failure

In Art, Images, Science on December 16, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Failures are important in Science. While most of the time they are just plain frustrating, every once in a while they can offer great insight. Well, today, I had a failure and while no particularly profound insight was forthcoming, a nice sight was certainly on offer.

I’ve been fabricating some nanofluidic devices in the clean room over the last few weeks, and after long arduous process involving many intermediate steps I discovered that one device didn’t turn out quite right. (For the interested: The resist hadn’t spun evenly on some portions, and hence after depositing metal (Pt), the lift-off wasn’t as good; some metal had managed to stick to the underlying oxide surface).

Anyway, despite the obvious disappointment, I was happy to take an image of what I think is a fabulous piece of abstract art.

The dark portions are silicon dioxide substrate, the teal regions are platinum metal, and the little squares in the bottom right at markers for e-beam lithography.


A Beautiful Failure

In Art, Chemistry, Nanoscience/Nanotechnology, Scientific Practice on February 4, 2009 at 10:45 am

There are times in lab, when even a failure brings something positive with it: a brilliant insight, a new direction perhaps, or simply a beautiful sight. Here is a picture I took this morning in a microscope, of a device I had fabricated after much pain. What you see in the image – the stripes – are lithographically fabricated gold wires, about 20 micron wide, on a silica substrate. To put it a bit obtusely, these wires connect the business end of the device to the outside world. Much to my dismay, one of the wires seemed to be busted (i.e., the connection between the device I made and the outside world was severed)


Ordinarily, this would cause me much angst and frustration. Luckily though, I have alternative wires in the arrangement that could still do the job for me. But a closer look at the failure was what ultimately brought a smile. Isn’t this just beautiful ?


I played quite a bit with the filters on the microscope till I got, what I thought, was a fair enough compensation for a failure !! The gold incense stick flaring out into a myriad subtle hues. Here’s the same image with a different focus of the microscope: