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Tools and technologies for the analysis and synthesis of nanostructures

Final Report Summary - TASNANO (Tools and technologies for the analysis and synthesis of nanostructures)

Scanning proximity probes (SPP) are uniquely powerful tools for molecular analyses and sensing; they are capable of addressing and manipulating surfaces at the molecular and atomic levels and therein are keys to unlocking the full potential of nanotechnology. Current SPP nanotools are limited to several probes with optical readout and slow processing rates, mostly at the research level. This presently constitutes a severe limitation in the commercial / manufacturing viability of this technology. Through the realisation of modular parallel probe arrays with integrated piezoresistive readout and their individual and / or modular nanofunctionalisation, an avalanche of new tools and processes for a wide range of applications including sensing, electronics and the life-sciences industries would be viable.

In this long-term research oriented project, we expected to lead to a breakthrough in a new generation of tools and technologies / methodologies for molecular level characterisation and manipulation methods.

Some of the results include: Completely new SPM designs of polymer cantilever and concepts have been proposed and implemented. The main guidelines addressed high sensitivity and force resolution, miniaturization, simplification, low power consumption and combination of several differently functionalised cantilevers.

Our proposed nanotools are useful for the fabrication of array of molecular switches, quantum computers, nano-patterning, bio- and environmental sensors, low-cost high resolution soft nanolithography molecular recognition, and in long-term a host of avalanche of other nanotool applications in the areas of engineering, biology, health care, communication industry etc. Nanoscience and nanotechnology is greatly advancing with the availability of the proposed nanotools.

We designed, fabricated, tested and applied measurement and control electronics for the sensors developed in the TASNANO project. In particular, we developed components which will enable application and calibration of the silicon and polymer based devices integrating piezoresistive deflection detector and thermal movement actuator.

For the needs of nanolithography using probes, a biotin streptavidin process was developed by NCSR in collaboration with SIS. This process is capable of high resolution lithography depending on the resolution limit of the probe used. In order to not only manipulate the surfaces on the molecular level but to produce them with lateral dimensions of less than 10 nm the specification of the existing AFM had to be improved. With an optimised new feedback loop software the positioning of the AFM could then stabilised to about 1 nm. In deposition experiments on Si and on Biotin line patterns could be generated that clearly show a width of less than 10 nm.

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