A process for fabricating a nanofilament field emission device in which a via in a dielectric layer is self-aligned to gate metal via structure located on top of the dielectric layer. By the use of a hard mask layer located on top of the gate metal layer, inert to the etch chemistry for the gate metal layer, and in which a via is formed by the pattern from etched nuclear tracks in a trackable material, a via is formed by the hard mask will eliminate any erosion of the gate metal layer during the dielectric via etch. Also, the hard mask layer will protect the gate metal layer while the gate structure is etched back from the edge of the dielectric via, if such is desired. This method provides more tolerance for the electroplating of a nanofilament in the dielectric via and sharpening of the nanofilament.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.