Constrained Order in Nanoporous Alumina with High Aspect Ratio: Smart Combination of Interference Lithography and Hard Anodization



With only two matched processing steps, the fabrication of thick nanoporous alumina membranes with mono-oriented, perfect hexagonal packing of pores, and precise control of all structural parameters over large areas is demonstrated. The cylindrical pores are uniform in shape and widely tunable in their dimensions and spatial distribution, with aspect ratios as high as 500. In brief, electropolished aluminum is first patterned using three-beam interference lithography in a single step and then anodized in a hard regime. The periodic concavities in the aluminum surface guide the pore nucleation, and the self-ordering phenomenon guarantees the maintenance of the predefined arrangement throughout the entire layer. In contrast to other methods, the interpore distance can be easily adjusted, the porous layer is not limited in thickness, no prefabricated stamps are involved, and the periodic pattern can be easily reproduced without risk of degradation. The approach overcomes the time, cost, and scale limitations of other existing processes. These membranes are well-suited for the templated fabrication of perfectly ordered arrays of highly uniform 1D nanostructures. Thus, the application fields of these functional membranes are diverse: magneto-optical and opto-electronic devices, photonic crystals, solar cells, fuel cells, and chemical and biochemical sensing systems, to name a few.