Introduction to ZMNT
The scientific and economic importance of nanotechnology continuous to grow at a fast pace. The prevalent silicon based integrated circuits technology has diversified out of pure electronics and become a key enabling technology for silicon based integrated optics (silicon photonics), micro- and nano-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS) as well as lab-on-a-chip applications. Merging of these functionalities makes the silicon based material system a rich and versatile platform for the development of microsystems and the exploration of devices and physical properties at the nanoscale. Introduction of novel materials such as graphene and other 2D materials, novel transistor concepts and unconventional computing schemes such as quantum computing pave the way towards breaking down the limitations of current technology.
In order to allow access to a state-of-the-art research facility, to enable quick implementation of ideas in a highly competitive and dynamical research environment and to maintain a highly developed knowledge base, several research units within the Department of Physics and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at RWTH Aachen University have agreed to set up a shared user facility, the Central Laboratory for Micro- and Nanotechnology (ZMNT), that will be open to new members either from RWTH Aachen University or external users from academia or industry.
Currently, ZMNT is distributed over several labs in multiple institutes. The main ZMNT lab (ZMNT - Module 1) provides a clean-room of 1054 m2 with a maximum class 5 of particulate air cleanliness (as per DIN EN ISO 14644-1). In the near future the other labs of the facility will be concentrated in a new building (ZMNT - Module 2). Module 2 will be spatially connected to Module 1 and will provide an additional clean-room of 1005 m2 (also with a maximum class 5 of particulate air cleanliness). ZMNT will then serve as the core micro- and nanotechnology facility at RWTH Aachen University with a broad variety of tools for fabrication and characterization accessible by an online management system.
Cooperation with further clean-room facilities
In addition to the two ZMNT clean-room modules, there are further clean-room facilities in close proximity, i.e. the clean-room at the Center for Digital Photonic Production (CDPP), which is a part of the Photonics Cluster on RWTH Aachen Campus, and the clean-room at the Advanced Microelectronic Center Aachen (AMICA), which is operated by the AMO GmbH.
The clean-room at CDPP comprises an area of 204 m2 with a maximum class 5 of particulate air cleanliness. The AMICA clean-room exhibits an area of 400 m2 with a maximum class 4 of particulate air cleanliness. An overview of the tools available in these two clean-rooms and information on how to get access to these tools can be found on the ZMNT homepage.