March 15, 2005 – Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and Toyama U. have developed a nanoscale cutting system that can make precise cuts on a 100nm or finer scale, according to Japanese newswires.
The system utilizes the mechanism of the atomic force microscope with a pyramid-shaped diamond cantilever (30nm in diameter) as a cutting tool. By altering loads at the tip of the cantilever, the system was able to etch 20nm grooves in monocrystalline silicon, controllable within a range of 1-100nm. Video was taken by a scanning electron microscope.
Electron beams are typically used in nanometer-level processing, but mechanical procedures could be more accurate if a small-enough blade is used.