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Nanoscale Science 

When confined at the nano scale,

  • fundamental physical,
  • electrical,
  • magnetic,
  • optical, and
  • chemical

properties of materials and physical systems can change completely and follow the laws of quantum mechanics. Among them are prominent materials like graphene and transition metal dichalcogenide (e.g. MoS2) that can be used to restrict electron mobility to only 2 or 1 dimensions. Employed correctly, these properties can lead to new functional devices with significant innovation potential, comparable to the invention of the first transistor and the subsequent digital revolution with ever-increasing computing power or the discovery of the giant magnetoresistance effect for data storage.

SEM image showing graphene quantum point contacts

We are currently witnessing a transition into the world of quantum computing, which is believed to power up the next technological revolution. And we should not forget the ongoing research and significant advances being made in nanophotonics – the science of shaping light – with applications in areas including new lens optics and computing.


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How does nanofabrication come into play?

However, before new revolutionary inventions and products can make a dramatic impact on our world, academic and institutional research must have the instrumentation that can synthesize, manipulate, fabricate, or shape materials or their compounds. The many such tools for creating materials include

  • atom layer deposition (ALD),
  • molecular beam epitaxy (MBE),
  • ion beam implantation,
  • diffusion furnaces etc.

Atomic force instrumentation and scanning probe techniques have the ability to truly manipulate matter at the level of single atoms. Nanofabrication techniques such as electron beam lithography (EBL) or optical lithography are in widespread use and can bring to life any ideas related to physical systems with nm dimensions. Thirty years ago EBL instrumentation development was driven by the prospect of Moore´s law for producing semiconductor circuits with CDs below 100 nm; today, various kind of EBL instruments are embedded in nearly every facility involved in nanoscale sciences as standard technology.

SEM image of a proximity transistor
SEM image of a graphene QD
Suspended and shaped graphene QDs; Tymofiy Khodkov, ICFO, Castelldefels/Spain

What are typical applications found in nanoscale sciences?

A major area of interest concerns the understanding of quantization effects including in spintronic devices, silicon-based quantum dots, topological insulators, and single-ion implantation and trapping. These are hoped to lead to new, extremely powerful quantum computing devices or secure quantum communication and data transmission protocols.

But when it comes to understanding light-directing, properties of metallic plasmonic nanostructures called metamaterials are likewise of interest with the ultimate goal of fabricating planar lenses. Nanoscale sciences do not end here, but are also open to interdisciplinary research at the interface where physics meets the sciences of life. Basic research is still essential in attempts to connect organic and inorganic materials, such as connecting living cells to electronics.

Further application areas include:

  • artifical intelligence in nanotechnology
  • graphene applications
  • nanotubes
  • nanoelectronics
  • nanotechnology in material science
  • fundamental research in nanophysics
  • ion–beam–induced deposition
  • electron–beam–induced deposition
  • TEM lamella preparation
  • atom probe tomography

Which Raith products are suitable for nanoscale sciences? 

In fact, all Raith products for nanofabrication, Electron Beam Lithography, FIB nanopatterning and SEM attachments can be found in key nanoscience laboratories around the world.

Raith nanofabrication systems