Nanoscale knowledge: Discovering how small is different
The continual push in the technology world toward smaller, faster, more efficient and more powerful has resulted in amazing progress in the nano-fabrication of ever smaller components. The challenge is that measurement tools have failed to keep up, which makes it very difficult to know how processes we understand at large scales – like heat flow or elasticity – change when the size scale is small. We use nanoscale-wavelength, laser-like extreme ultraviolet light to measure these nanoscale systems directly, characterizing the surprisingly inefficient heat flow away from tiny metal pillars and measuring the elastic properties of films that are a thousand times thinner than human hair. Understanding the behavior of these tiny systems is what we need to propel our future technological development – so we understand not only how to fabricate nanoscale components, but also how they will behave so as to best design and improve them.