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A novel resistless lithography process using a conventional electron beam system is presented. Metallic lines with widths of less than 50 nm were produced on silicon substrates. The process is based on localized heating with a focused electron beam of thin platinum layers deposited on silicon. It is demonstrated that silicide formation occurs at the Pt-Si interface. By using a dilute solution of aqua regia, it is possible to obtain a sufficient difference in etch rates between exposed and unexposed regions of the platinum thin film to selectively remove only the unexposed areas. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.