Dip pen nanolithography is a promising new tool in the world of nanotechnlogy; it based upon existing technologies and has exciting applications, stretching from fields such as biology to semiconductors. Dip pen nanolithography (DPN) relies on the power of the atomic force microscope to pattern directly on a range of substances with a variety of "inks". This technology was developed in 1999 at Northwestern University by Professor Chad Mirkin. Since then, it has matured substantially and is even available commercially through the company NanoInk, demonstrating that this technology is beginning to find its niche among other scanning-probe techniques.
The image above is a schematic of how the process of dip-pen nanolithography works. Currently, there are approximately twenty labs in the world working to further the development of DPN: researching ways to make it faster, discovering more ink/substrate combinations, and pushing the limits of what DPN can currently do.
Image modeled after the diagram in R.D. Piner, J. Zhu, F. Xu, S. H. Hong, C. A. Mirkin, Science 1999, 283, 661.