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Automated super-resolution polarimetric nonlinear microscope 'PolarNon'

Project description

An innovative microscope may significantly improve nondestructive testing technology

Materials are made up of complex molecules and compounds with a variety of 3D structures that affect their properties. Nonlinear optics technologies exploit changes in a material's optical properties in the presence of light. They have great potential for use in non-destructive testing but face technical difficulties related to rigid sample requirements and complex measurement conditions. The EU-funded PolarNon project has developed an easy-to-use non-linear microscope capable of predicting the structure of a material within a device with single-pixel resolution. Now, the team is moving it from the lab to an industrial prototype, targeting the semiconductor and aerospace industries as their first beneficiaries.


The analysis of materials is a key requirement for device quality control in medical, electronic and photonic industry. Currently, fluorescence imaging, electron microscopy and photoluminescence are typical tools for quality control in research and industry. However, they suffer from several limitations: complex samples preparation, special environments, destructive and time-consuming measurements. The development of new materials and components needs innovative approaches for fast and non-destructive testing (NDT). We propose to use nonlinear optical responses that are strongly dependent on material properties like crystal structure, defects and roughness for NDT. Despite the high potential of nonlinear optics in material sciences, the existing solutions are not convenient in terms of equipment, measurements methods, sample preparation and human resources costs.
We propose the implementation and testing of a fully automated polarimetric nonlinear microscope ‘PolarNon’ as a hardware and software solution for NDT and quality control of materials or optoelectronic components in the semiconductor industry (Market segment I), and metallic or ceramic alloys in the aerospace industry (Market segment II). The PolarNon system overcomes the limitations of current methods: it does not require special sample preparation or measurement conditions, like low temperatures, vacuum or ultrathin substrates, and it can characterize materials already incorporated in a device. The PolarNon includes a method of per-pixel analysis of optical images to reconstruct the material crystalline properties down to the pixel resolution. We already successfully applied this approach to several materials for predicting samples inner structure. This project allows us to build an industrial prototype for future commercialization and secure the invention to create an engineering start-up focused on the development of nonlinear optical microscopy tools for material analysis.



Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
Raemistrasse 101
8092 Zuerich

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Zürich Zürich
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
No data

Beneficiaries (1)