Developing the instruments and software required to enable industrial use of high-speed scanning technology.
Nanotechnology, recognised by the EU as a Key Enabling Technology, can impart new properties to products through engineering materials at the nanoscale level. Measurements at this scale, used to verify product performance, require the use of specialised techniques such as scanning probe microscopy (SPM). SPM collects information on a sample’s properties using probes that move in contact or close proximity to a sample's surface. However, currently measurement errors for SPM can be as large as 30%. A lack of SI traceability and knowledge of the effects of scanning speed on measurement accuracy means that SPM does not currently meet industrial quality control requirements for higher speed (>1 mm/s) large scanning areas (>1 mm2) and improved accuracy
This project will design and manufacture SPM probes and control electronics suitable for integrating into a compact high-speed SPM (HS-SPM) prototype designed for use in industrial environments. New scanning stages for HS-SPMs capable of high‑speed motion (~10 mm/s) and large stroke (~10 mm) with traceability to the SI metre will also be developed, including high-speed interferometry sensors for real-time industrial measurements. The probes and stages will be incorporated into a prototype HS-SPM capable of multi-sensing measurements (topography combined with electrical or mechanical properties), supplemented by new open source software tools for control and data processing. Performance will then be evaluated by comparison to other scanning techniques using reference and industrial relevant samples.
The uptake of project results is anticipated to improve the competitiveness of the European microscopy industry and improve quality control in the semiconductor, nanomaterial, nano-bioscience and nano-photonics industries.