Spacers for applications such as field emission flat panel displays and vacuum microelectronics, and which involves the application of aerogel/xerogel technology to the formation of the spacer. In a preferred approach the method uses a mold and mold release agent wherein the gel precursor is a liquid which can be applied to the mold filling holes which expose the substrate (either the baseplate or the faceplate). A release agent is applied to the mold prior to precursor application to ease removal of the mold after formation of the dielectric spacer. The shrinkage of the gel during solvent extraction also improves mold removal. The final spacer material is a good dielectric, such as silica, secured to the substrate.
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.