For over half-a-century, electromagnetic traps have been used to study charged and neutral particles in a setting where they are shielded from unwanted perturbations. First generation traps were assembled from a collection of discrete components. The overall system was physically large. In addition, the trap capabilities were limited by the discrete assembly approach.
Since the 1990’s, there has been a broad-based trap miniaturization effort. The fabrication of these micro-traps is generally based on photolithographic techniques. Consequently, these microchip traps have a planar geometry (i.e. surface trap), with critical features, such as electrodes, ranging in size from sub-micron to hundreds of microns. The ions are typically trapped a few microns to one hundred microns above the trap surface. This is in sharp contrast to the original laboratory size devices where the trapped particles are generally found, not above, but rather deep within the trap body, separated from the trap closest electrode by relatively long-distances.
The microfabrication of surface traps is conceptually simple, being based on silicon micro-fabrication processes that were initially developed for the microelectronics industry. However, many so-called surface traps incorporate some three-dimensional features. For example, the ions loading ports found on many surface traps often have three-dimensional geometries. Adding this kind of features cannot be easily achieved using only standard photolithographic procedures. Furthermore, for some applications, silicon, which has relatively poor microwave characteristics, is not a preferred material.
Fortunately we can help you: At Translume, we fabricate ion microtrap platforms using fused silica as base material. Fused silica is an excellent material for ion trap platforms. Our fabrication approach it is based on our femtoEtch process. This direct-write procedure is well-adapted to the fabrication of surface microtraps. The same process can also be used to fabricate three-dimensional microtraps that closely resemble down-scale traditional traps.
You can learn more about microtraps and our microtrap fabrication capabilities in the following sections.