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Spotlight: Bottoms-Up Metal-Filling

Micrograph shows several connected trenches of metal on dark background.
Credit: D. Josell/NIST

A method worth its metal — filling microscopic holes with gold can be tricky, but NIST scientist Daniel Josell is up for the challenge. A type of medical imaging (called phase contrast X-ray imaging) pushes X-rays through the gold that fills tiny trenches in silicon gratings. The better the fill, the better the imaging results. Daniel’s new metal-filling method deposits the gold far more rapidly at the bottom of the trenches, preventing a buildup of atoms on the sides that can prevent complete filling. That way, there won’t be any gaps or pockets to reduce the equipment’s performance.

Daniel presented his work to a group of venture capitalists as part of NIST’s Technology Maturation Accelerator Program, who selected it as a likely candidate for success in the marketplace. The funding from the program puts Daniel on the path toward success, and we can’t wait to see where it leads!

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Released February 19, 2020, Updated December 21, 2020