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Microengineering and Nanoengineering

The boundaries between nanoscale sciences and micro- and nanoengineering may not always be so easy to define, but while nanoscale sciences focus on the fundamental understanding and aspects of how materials and systems work on the nano scale, micro- and nanoengineering strives to bridge the gap between a fundamental understanding of things and the desire to design and invent products that help to improve all aspects of daily life.

It is not limited to us humans alone, but also extends to the world of nature of which we are part.

SEM image of a magneto-optomechanical torque sensor user in nanoengineering


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How does nanofabrication come into play? 

Fundamental inventions or observations that happen on the nano or micro scale require purpose-designed micro- or nanostructures in order to function properly as well as to connect them to the macroscopic world. A good example is the aim of employing light (photons) for tasks including

  • computing,
  • sensing,
  • actuation, and
  • manipulation.

This, however, requires the development of new device architectures and fabrication and integration processes. It is understood that fast development cycles require very flexible nanofabrication techniques that allow ideas to be tested within days and, if possible, without the involvement of third parties elsewhere. Electron Beam Lithography and ion beam machining are seen as key tools in the value chain for the design and optimization of new devices that may later find their way to mass production.

SEM image of suspended InAs nanowire
Suspended InAs nanowire

Computing and communication using light instead of electrons require new circuits or hybrid devices that combine conventional electronics and optical logic into photonic integrated circuits. Micro-electro mechanical systems (MEMS) are developed for sensing and actuation applications in life science and analytics and for chemical and physical sensing.

New planar lenses eliminate the need for manufacturing heavy bulk lenses and open up new concepts for mobile computing and camera devices.

Microfluidic, nanofluidic, or micromachined devices help to deliver drugs more efficiently at the point where they are needed.

Needless to say, the current generation of FINFET semiconductor transistors were designed and optimized 20 years ago using micro- and nanoengineering techniques.

Finally, the exploration of our universe is based on devices into which nanometer scale features are professionally integrated – such as bolometers, which detect infrared radiation from far-off galaxies and help us to understand the world we live in.

Further application areas include:

What are some typical applications found in micro- and nanoengineering? 

  • Gassensor fabrication
  • Waveguide fabrication and
  • 3D nanofabrication

Which Raith products  are suitable for micro- and nanoengineering?

Being able to change design ideas quickly and testing out new device concepts are certainly among the key performance features of Raith products. But when it comes to entering the world of manufacturing, process control and repeatability are critical. Raith´s instruments offer the required stability for (nano-)fabrication, and CHIPSCANNER enables users to set up workflows that determine quality and repeatability of the fabricated items.

Raith nanofabrication systems