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Nanopatterning is a generic term for all top down techniques in nanotechnology such as nanolithography. In addition to lithographic techniques like electron beam lithography and ion beam lithography this includes nanomanipulation of small objects and direct surface modification like focused electron beam induced patterning, focused ion beam induced patterning, milling, and local ion implantation. Most of these emerging techniques are not yet fully developed and as established as conventional lithography. Nevertheless, they add new approaches to nanoengineering due to the fact that they are resistless processes, which does not only reduce the number of required process steps but also offers solutions to applications where resist cannot be used.
The nanopatterning technique uses a nanoscale tip borrowed from atomic force microscopy to create 2-D and 3-D patterns measuring as a small as 15 nanometers. One of the most common areas of nanofabrication research is in the integration of biological structures and defined nanopatterned structures. These offer great potential for future biological research and possible medical treatments.