In the process, the Taiwan-based team first patterns a custom-designed triangular "cell" with three nanoholes on an aluminum sheet surface by focused-ion-beam lithography. The nanoholes can be made to grow into straight nanochannels by applying a suitable voltage in the first step of the anodization process.

Next, the group uses a doubled voltage to induce lateral repulsion between growth fronts originating in the same cell. As a result, the fronts “fan out”. The fan-out evolution continues until the growth fronts originating in all of the cells evolve into a close-packed two-dimensional hexagonal lattice.

This novel platform facilitates the probing and handling of many signals from different areas on a non-planar sample’s surface. The design element could help to improve detection and manipulation at the nanoscale level.

Additional information can be found in the journal Nanotechnology.