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In-Line Areal Surface Measurement for Micro and Nano Production

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - InLineNano (In-Line Areal Surface Measurement for Micro and Nano Production)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2015-10-31

A new optical interferometry technology has been developed which delivers fast and high precision areal surface measurements for stepped and freeform micro-nanoscale structures which cannot be measured by traditional techniques. The technology addresses the market need for high throughput, simple sample preparation and nanoscale accuracy combined with an affordable system cost. Furthermore, a unique vibration isolation innovation means that it has the flexibility to be applied both in-line and in-process. This project aims to validate its commercial potential as both a research and industrial metrology tool. The technology is considered to show significant potential as a microscopy tool, filling the gap between traditional optical microscopy and the SEM (or AFM) market.

The viability of the technology as a commercial metrology tool for research and next generation manufacturing will be fully analysed in this project. The intended outcome of the study will be an elaborated business plan mapping in detail the full market potential; confirming the system blueprint; a pilot production scenario and associated partnership arrangements to be implemented in the subsequent phase 2 activity. To enable the business plan definition, the specific objectives of the feasibility study are:
Objective 1: Confirm primary target market and key partnerships. This will require screening of the market; gauging the market potential and elucidation of the optimum value chain structure. Non-market issues, such as regulatory issues, will also be addressed. Key tasks will be:
• State-of-the-art review – technology and patent landscapes analysed.
• Review of applications and definition of prime targets
• Assessment of non-market issues (e.g. regulation, standards, export controls…)
• Review route to market options and initiate partner engagements (users and suppliers)
Patent protection of the WSI technology in combination with its novel vibration isolation approach has been carried out. While this has provided a first view of the patent landscape, further detailed investigation would be required for its full commercial exploitation.

Objective 2: Definition of technology strategy. Industrial implementation of the WSI technology will draw on a number of state-of-the-art inputs from leading European technology suppliers (from camera technologies to high speed acquisition hardware and powerful software algorithms). To identify the optimum configuration, the following tasks will be completed:
• System review – evaluation of hardware and software options to make real the commercial technology and impact on performance of the proposed system. Definition of new support technology if required.
• System definition- correlation of system specification to user needs for prime target markets.

Objective 3: Economic & strategic review. Drawing on the findings of the above tasks, determination of the detailed business plan for WSI will encompass the following tasks:
• Cost/benefit analysis of proposed implementations
• Definition of strategic implementation plan to move technology from lab to industrial scale production in association with leading European partners

Project Deliverable: Feasibility Study incorporating Business plan for WSI - The work implemented will develop a validated valorisation path for the technology, which has emerged from multiple European/national projects. A detailed business plan will set the strategy for phase 2, which will bring identified partners together to implement a pilot production chain.
A new optical interferometry technology (WSI) has been developed which delivers fast and high precision areal surface measurements for stepped and freeform micro-nanoscale structures which cannot be measured by traditional techniques. The InLineNano project has validated its commercial potential as a research and industrial metrology tool.

The WSI technology represents a key new entry to the optical market. A SWOT analysis has been completed for IBS in regard to the development of the WSI technology in the market. The potential threats and weaknesses have been highlighted and are addressed by actions proposed within an updated business plan developed as an outcome of the project.
As a result of the above analysis, the strategic vision for market entry with the WSI technology has evolved. As phased approach to market entry has been devised, required investments defined and optimal partnerships investigated.
The conclusion of this action i.e. the work and insights of the project, is incorporated into an updated business proposal to bring the technology to the market as a next generation in-line measurement solution for high tech manufacturing.
A growing need for micro and nano components, in industries ranging from printed electronics, to medical and aerospace, is challenging manufacturers to continuously improve their manufacturing processes. To address the significant challenges posed by micro and nano products, improved measurement technologies are required. A technology is proposed to enable nano-precision measurements on complex structures in previously inaccessible environments. This offers a step change in the capability of manufactures to deliver ultra precision products.
Arinna on gantry
Arinna measurement head