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Emerging Nanopatterning Methods

Final Report Summary - NAPA (Emerging Nanopatterning Methods)

The four year NAPA started in March 2004. The NAPA consortium integrated well over 80 % of the viable existing European know-how in nanolithography, the leading institutes and companies active in the field into a single Integrated Project (IP), both anticipating and responding to the increasing need for technologies, standards and metrology required to harness the new application-relevant properties of engineered structures with nm-scale features.

Strategically, the NAPA consortium complemented deep UV technology by providing low-cost scalable processes and tools to cover the needs of nanopatterning from CMOS back-end processes through photonics to biotechnology. To achieve this, research in three technology strands was carried out: nanoimprint lithography, soft lithography and self-assembly and MEMS-based nanopatterning. While, in the beginning of the project, the first was at a crucial embryonic stage, and required prompt consolidation to yield its first products within one or two years, the latter two were on target to produce applications towards the end of the project. In addition, research was undertaken in three overarching themes required by all strands: materials, tools and simulation.

Thus, thematically, the consortium embraced and pushed forward the state-of-the-art developments in the physical and engineering sciences with the object-driven mission to provide European industrial and academic researchers with a library of novel nanopatterning processes needed to underpin radical innovations and further scientific developments in nanotechnology.

The NAPA project addressed European Commission's socio-economic objectives from many vantage points. In response to the need for the transformation of industry towards higher-added value activities, the consortium was actively steered at the management and research and development (R&D) levels by the industrial participants to ensure that the research activities integrate design, materials and tool development into high-value production processes and products. The all-encompassing nature of nanopatterning insured that the technologies produced within NAPA provide potential solutions to the higher-value added industries of information and communication technologies (ICT), pharmaceuticals, biotechnologies, health and medicine. The expected lower costs will make these affordable by all citizens, thus addressing the social cohesion objective of an information society for all, and as well addresses the objectives of a strategy for sustainable development, since the latter is enhanced by direct development of manufacturing processes for new product development from nanoscale lithography.

The consortium integrated small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), corporate and national research labs, and university partners to insure a strong presence and interaction of varied innovative enterprises to allow a pipeline from strategic research to commercial exploitation. Simultaneously, the structure of the consortium allowed for a continuum of academic education through to hands-on training, thereby enabling nanosciences and new technologies and opening opportunities for industrial applications. Through the active educational activities of the consortium, a genuine enthusiasm for science, and for exploiting science to develop new technologies for sustainable employment, was nurtured. Throughout the research programme, a strong metrology component for materials development and process development is in place to address environmental, safety and health (ESH) implications of the technology. The assessment of ESH issues are integrated directly into the R&D programme to anticipate the most appropriate means for safe-guarding societal, health, ethical and regulatory issues. One of the main outcomes of NAPA project was the NAPA library of processes for nanoimprint lithography, soft lithography and self-assembly and MEMS-based nanopatterning. Simulation tools were also created for optimisation of fabrication processes. Another very important objective was to design and construct production tools and materials dedicated for manufacturing products using the emerging nanopatterning processes. The whole manufacturing chain was tested by fabricating devices and demonstrators in the fields of nano-optics and bioapplications.

The overall goals set were met and partially exceeded in the project. The project generated materials, equipment, processes and simulation and metrology tools for nano-imprinting, various soft-lithography approaches and nanostencilling and -dispensing. These were tested in fabricating several demonstrators, such as optical encoder, DBF laser and pinched-flow microfluidic device, among others. The main target originally was to come up with a library of processes to help and guide the take up of nanopatterning processes by start-ups and SMEs and by academia and research institutes. The NAPA library of processes has now been published and will be distributed to key sectors and key customers.

One of the major outcomes was the integration of researchers and research activities in Europe. The integration brought about added value arising from the cross-fertilising communication between people from physics, electronics, chemistry and biology. This generated very active discussion across the disciplines within the consortium, as was witnessed, for example, in the six internal mini-conferences arranged during the plenary meetings. This European concept of Integrated Project (IP) was introduced to broad audience also in Asia and Americas in several NAPA talks.

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 500120

  • Start date

    1 March 2004

  • End date

    29 February 2008

Funded under:

FP6-NMP

  • Overall budget:

    € 31 134 082

  • EU contribution

    € 15 994 871

Coordinated by:

VTT VALTION TEKNILLINEN TUTKIMUSKESKUS