Nanolithography is the art and science of etching, writing, or printing at the microscopic level, where the dimensions of characters are on the order of nanometers (units of 10 -9 meter, or millionths of a millimeter). This includes various methods of modifying semiconductor chips at the atom ic level for the purpose of fabricating integrated circuits ( IC s).
Instruments used in nanolithography include the scanning probe microscope (SPM) and the atomic force microscope (ATM). The SPM allows surface viewing in fine detail without necessarily modifying it. Either the SPM or the ATM can be used to etch, write, or print on a surface in single-atom dimensions.