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Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center (BRNC)
Hosting Legal Entity
ETH Zurich
IBM Zurich Research Laboratories
Säumerstrasse 4, Campus of IBM Research - Zurich, Rüschlikon, PO: 8803 (Switzerland)
Type Of RI
Coordinating Country
Current Status:
Operational since 2011
Under construction since 2009 to 2011
Scientific Description
Research at the nanometer scale—one nanometer is the length of four gold atoms and 80,000 times smaller than the average width of a human hair—requires fabrication and characterization of nanoscale structures, whose level of accuracy is also at the nanometer or sub-nanometer scale.The Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center provides a cutting-edge, collaborative infrastructure designed specifically for advancing nanoscience. It hosts 950 m2 of cleanroom space, which is jointly operated with ETH Zurich, as well as offices and dry labs.Additionally, six noise-free labs designed by IBM provide a new level of accuracy for fabricating and characterizating at the true 1-nanometer level and beyond, thereby potentially extending the scale on which scientists are able to measure and experiment even further.

RI Keywords
Functional materials, Nanowires, Carbon electronics, Quantum computing, Clean-room, Neuromorphic computing, MEMS, Micro-nanoelectronics & spintronics, Blockchain for the enterprise, NEMS, Noise-free Labs, Photonics, AI technologies for healthcare, Organic electronics
RI Category
Micro- and Nanotechnology facilities
Materials Synthesis or Testing Facilities
Safety Handling facilities
Scientific Domain
Chemistry and Material Sciences
ESFRI Domain
Physical Sciences and Engineering
Cleanroom for Micro and Nanofabrication

The Nanotechnology Center features a 950 m2 cleanroom facility for micro and nanofabrication with a cleanroom class ranging from 100 (ISO 5) to 10,000 (ISO 7). The cleanroom will be used for exploratory research on new materials and new devices with dimensions down to the nanometer scale. It is not a production or pilot line with fixed processes and fixed wafer size; flexibility is of utmost importance. Processes, most of which will be semiconductorbased, will be conducted on materials similar to those used in standard semiconductor technology, such as silicon, germanium, III-V semiconductors, carbon, graphene, metals, insulators, polymers, organics and oxides. Small pieces to 6-inch wafers can be processed; for some tools, wafers up to 200 mm in size will be possible. The cleanroom consists of different sectors with a broad set of processing tools: • Lithography for pattern definition by optical contact printing and direct laser writing • Wet processing for substrate cleaning and wet chemical etching • Dry etching for material removal using plasmas of reactive gases • Thermal processing using oxidation, annealing and vapor phase deposition • Thin-film deposition using sputtering tools, evaporators, chemical vapor deposition and atomic layer deposition • Back-end processes such as lapping/polishing, dicing, chemo-mechanical polishing (CMP), electroplating, and bonding • Metrology/characterization using optical microscopes, SEM, AFM, FIB, and ellipsometry • Waveguide processing for optical interconnects

“Noise-free“ Labs

Research at the nanometer scale requires fabrication and characterization of nanoscale structures, whose level of accuracy is also at the nanometer scale. As a consequence, experiments are becoming increasingly sensitive, particularly regarding external sources of noise such as temperature fluctuations, vibrations, electromagnetic stray fields and acoustic disturbances. In order to screen external sources of noise and minimize internally created noise sources, six cutting-edge research labs with a total floor space of 176 m2 were installed in the basement of the new nanotechnology center. These labs are equipped with the following facilities: • Chamber and auxiliary room: Noisy equipment such as pumps, transformers, chillers etc. is located in auxiliary rooms adjacent to every lab. The operator and the instrumentation are also stationed in a separate anteroom close to the main lab. Only the core experiment setup is located in the sensitive area. • Electromagnetic field compensation: Every lab has a complete magnetic cladding (NiFe) to shield it from electromagnetic fields. To compensate for DC components and internally created fields, an active Helmholtz coil system applies a counterfield that reduces the fields to less than 2 nT AC (absolute) and less than 20 nT DC (fluctuations on top of the magnetic field of the Earth). • Vibrations: The test beds of every lab are equipped with seismic blocks weighing between 30 and 68 tons, which are actively suspended on air springs. In addition, users walk on a separate platform decoupled from the test bed. • Air-conditioning system: A laminar, non-turbulent air-conditioning system keeps the temperature stable within ± 0.01 ºC and the humidity within ± 5%. The acoustic emission of the entire system is less than 21 dBC.

Date of last update: 19/06/2019
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