Tip-Based Nanofabrication (TBN) and Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM)

A photo of a process emulation of a 3 degree-of-freedom closed loop nano-positioner with an integrated cantilever and tip.

Tip-based nanofabrication is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program that was awarded to a consortium of universities and corporations including University of  Waterloo – Integrated Circuit Scanning Probe Instruments (ICSPI). The consortium is headed by Zyvex Labs, a major nano-technology company in U.S.A. ICSPI is a spin-off company from the Center for Integrated Radio Frequency Engineering (CIRFE) lab located in Waterloo. This "atomically precise manufacturing" approach uses arrays of Scanning Tunneling Microscopes (STMs) to perform patterned Atomic Layer Epitaxy (ALE). The goal of achieving atomic precision in all three dimensions is in part based on the STM arrays that are being developed at the CIRFE Lab.

Novel on-chip Nano-Electro Mechanical Systems (NEMS)/Complementary-Symmetry/Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) integration techniques are developed to construct arrays of STM’s with improved resolution, ease-of-use, and reduced cost when compared to the state-of-the-art. For the first time, all the critical actuation, sensing, and electronics components are integrated to construct closed-loop scanner arrays with sub-nm resolution on a single CMOS chip.

Our STM is built by integrating Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and CMOS technology. A process emulation of a 3 degree-of-freedom closed loop nano-positioner with an integrated cantilever and tip is shown on top. A scanning electron microscope image of a fabricated device is shown below.

An electron microscope image of a fabricated device.