Sub-wavelength patterning of organic monolayers via nonlinear processing with continuous-wave lasers
In recent years, nonlinear processing with continuous-wave lasers has been demonstrated to be a facile means of rapid nanopatterning of organic monolayers down to the sub-100 nm range. In this study, we report on laser patterning of thiol-based organic monolayers with sub-wavelength resolution. Au-coated silicon substrates are functionalized with 1-hexadecanethiol. Irradiation with a focused beam of an Ar+ laser operating at λ=514 nm allows one to locally remove the monolayer. Subsequently, the patterns are transferred into the Au film via selective etching in a ferri-/ferrocyanide solution. Despite a 1/e2 spot diameter of about 2.8 μm, structures with lateral dimensions down to 250 nm are fabricated. The underlying nonlinear dependence of the patterning process on laser intensity is traced back to the interplay between the laser-induced transient local temperature rise and the thermally activated desorption of the thiol molecules. A simple thermokinetic analysis of the data allows us to determine the effective kinetic parameters. These results complement our previous work on photothermal laser patterning of ultrathin organic coatings, such as silane-based organic monolayers, organo/silicon interfaces and supported membranes. A general introduction to nonlinear laser processing of organic monolayers is presented.