Measurement and analysis of nano structures

Analytics – undispensable for an effective nanofabrication

In the nanocosmos the analytic plays a central part. The until now most used analyse system of high explosion is the electron microscopy with a current market volume of about 1 billion EUR . The trend leads more and more to the scanning electron microscope, which can show the object to be investigated almost under environmental condition.

This modus is especially favourable for plastic, oil, textiles, ceramics, paints. etc.

The most prominent growth area in the analytic displays however the AFM systems. They show already a world market volume of 2 Billion EUR, which should amount to 6 billions EUR in 2010.

AFM technolgy – the eyes of the nanocosmos

The analyse possibility of the elementary connections of surface processes on an atomic level by means of AFM procedures has first enabled almost all actual existing developments in the nano technoloy. AFM technologies are comparable with the scanning system of a record player. A peak touches line-by-line the surface and carr ies out an atomic scan.

The received information can be e.g. the distribution of atoms or the distribution of a magnetic field, an electric field, a field of light, a temperature or electrical surface potentials. SXM-technologies are applicable in the basic research, in the industrial research or in the production and quality control.

Since 10 – 12 years SXM-appliances are operating in the market – the first development by Rohrer und Binning was appreciated in 1986 with the Nobel Price. All kind of correlation known in the macroscopic sector can be principally used in the nanoscopic sector by SXM-technologies, as well as for the structuring.

They are consequently suitable for universal applicable nano-tools.

Metrology in the micro area

Scanning tunneling microscopes (STM) are able to image sorted flat surfaces. Due to this control possibility it is possible to count the single atoms of a chain. If you know the distance of single atoms, you should define a scale on atomic level with a calibration material and use it for the measurement. This development is comparable with the introduction of the atomic clock. Therefore the nanometer will in future become the importance of the specific datas as the micrometer it actually has got . If the created structures get more and more small , the online quality test procedures get more and more important – already for certification reasons. For this reason in the foreseeable future the nanometer scale will be the precision standard for the material analysis and control resp. establishing on this also for the material process.

It is not possible to quantify the indirect presenting world market potential through these quality-management-possibilities by today’s standards.

Light microscopy with nm-resolution surmounts the traditional physical limits

The method of the near-field optic enables the illustration of classified and unclassified structures in the sector beneath 200nm up to 30 nm. The resolution of conventional light microscopes is limited by optical deflecting appearances. However it is possible to shut off them by leading the source of light very near to the object to be investigated. Basic developments have been made for this purpose in Switzerland and in the USA in the recent years. Currently t here are only a few companies existing worldwide,offering near-fie l d-microscopy equipments, even though with a current minor lateral resolution. A significant future value is attached to the near-field optic in the microscopy market. Especially the biologists/medics are interested in such a device.

If the high temporally resolution is combined with the extreme sp e cial resolution, as they can be provided via the methods of the femto-second technology, further advantages appear at the characterisation of single organic molecules, biological macromolecules or thinner layers.

Structure/effect relation and toxicity analysis

Generally for the branches medicine/pharmacy/biology at nanotechnological relevant issues a concentration on analytical interrogations can be observed . Essential elements are focusing on the analysis of adhesive surfaces and their impact on the allergy comportment of single persons (structure/effect reaction of adhesive surfaces, e.g.plaster on skin layers), on the analysis of processes at the pharmaceutical and chem i cial synthesis, as well as the characterisation of different active agents (incl. cosmetics). Experts attach also importance to the toxicity analysis (e.g. of nano particles), apparently in order to estimate at an early stage possible barriers or even the end of a planned product development.

Fight against rust

In the industrial countries an economical loss in the amount of 4% of the gross national product arises through friction, wastage and corrosion per year; only in Germany (GSP 1996: 1,8 Trillion EUR) a loss of about 70 Billion EUR. Corrosion by local pitting or splitting corrosion poses an enormous problem at the long-term stability of reinforced concrete steel constructions, machines at an aggressive environment, pip e lines for reactive products as well as car parts. Wherever material is damaged or demolished by even misunderstood processes, information about the cause l of damage and its prevention is expected by the atomic-scaled analytical observation.

Materials behave differently depending on the environment and nature of the atmosphere . AFM procedures and the electron microscopy offer investigation possibilities on nm-levels for the decoding of causes of local corrosion attacks:


  • Investigation of adhesive procedure
  • DNA-anaylsis
  • Cosmetic research
  • Pharmaceutical development
  • Analysis of bones, skin, hair and teeth
  • Active agent screening
  • Lokal active agent research
  • Low-cost bioanalytic
  • Analysis of biological cuttings
  • Analysis of Toxicity

Chemistry / materials management

  • Corrosion research
  • Analysis of single molecules
  • Catalysis research
  • Particle and clusteranalysis
  • Computer simulation

Electronics / Information technology

  • Structuring analysis
  • Distribution of elements (dopant, composition and orbital contrast measurement)
  • Metrology
  • Wafer inspection
  • Magnetic memory analysis
  • Layer growth control
  • Signal/noise-ratio optimisation

Automobile manufacture / engineering

  • Friction analysis
  • Throatiness
  • Layer hardness and elasticity definition
  • Micro assembling in large-capacity microscopes
  • Nanosimulation of materials


  • Versatile process and quality control (for layers, particles, structures, functions)
  • Analytic as precondition for the product development
  • Analytic as implement for the development of new mentalities for applications in the nm-sector


Opening of new market chances with nano-scaled materials (nanoparticles)

Puniest matter modules of only a few up to a few hundred atoms and molecules are called „nanoparticles“; they show clearly changed features in comparison to their behaviour as larger solid state. Such particles are applied e.g. within the scope of chemistry in the form of pigments for colour effects, cosmetics, videotapes with fully new functional features or as UV-protection preparations (containing approx. 20nm big titanium oxide-particles resp. organic light filter substances).

Generally, for this sector of manufacturing a industrial meaning is assigned to a wide range of basic raw materials. An innovative approach demonstrates hereby the sol-gel-technology.

Further appliances of versatile nanoparticles

By the implement of nano powder, macroscopic modules can be created with big interior surfaces, which are relevant for batteries and fue l cells, catalysis and electrolysis reactors or for the storage of gases. Calculation shows, that ele c tric cars equipped with fuel cells and appropriate tanks can reach up to 8000 km. An advantage of the nanoparticles displays also their high sinter ability, so that it is possible to create super plastic deformable ceramics (e.g. for membranes, which plays a role at the circular economy, at the cleaning of landfill water or at the beer-dialysis) at low temperatures. Furthermore, nano particles offer fully new ways of glass making by the powder route. Thus, high complicated components can be produced, which are non-producible by conventional glass making procedures. By the directed adjustment of the material`s fine structure, especially in the automotive industry more sustainable engine and frame components with a more lightly weight are expected.

The potential of these particles starts out with the fabrication of innovative colours or recyclable automobile parts. Besides the assignment of the nanos for catalytic and optical purposes, material design and structuring is aiming in the automotive branch among others at the development of corrosion inhibitors for bearings and superstructures, life increase of and lubricantive prevention in bearings and sliding elements by means of wastage protection layers and structures, as well as at the fabrication of field emitter arrangement for the use in ignition systems and electrical filters. Nanoparticles also have future prospects for ceramic enginge parts, particle-enhanced plastics or for the purpose of vibration damping (e.g. by magnetic nanofluids )

In 2010 different estimations figure the markets for nanoparticle -specified products already at about 30 Billion EUR.

Self-organisation as new production principle

The self-organisation of elemental components could also contribute to a new manufacturing period. For the 21st century scientists pr edict production facilities, whereby materials, instruments and even complete machines could assamble themselves. The fundament is offered by a process, at which the random stand-by atoms, molecules and molecule connections or even bigger elements are assembled by themselves to well-sorted units. The human being only begins or breaks this process; otherwise the fabrication passes off under the pre-programmed rules, which has been previously programmed into the elements. J.-M. Lehn has been honoured in 1987 with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the basic description of this self-organisation process. The self-organisation is a basic principle of the nature. It is functioning in the retort similarly to the coded constitution of today’s life forms from the elemental subunits.

It enables not only the manufacturing of innovative materials, but also the prevention of mistakes and costs, which are associated with the human nature. Nevertheless, new jobs are created through the variety of the possible product ranges.

Tailor-made molecules for the future chemistry

The chemical industry sees future chances in the research of basic questions concerning functional supra molecular systems, molecular surfaces and clusters. Thereby the self-organisation is used as a new construction principle. Systems with defined forms and sizes as well as appropriate arranged functional substructures are for instance of economic importance for the implement of pharmaceuticals, the manufacturing of dispersion colours, the optimisation of c atalysts or at adhesive-, paint spray and grease processes. Medics and pharmacists think about completely new forms of therapy concerning the requirements in the medical sector, at those by the help of nanometer-sized particles medication only unfolds selective on site its pharmacological potential.


  • Research of active agents
  • Pharmapositioning
  • Key-lock-material system
  • Nano-emulsions


Precision mechanics / Optics / Analytics

  • Frictionless bearings
  • Lubricant
  • Rotary union


Chemistry / materials management

  • Creation of nanoparticles (colloids, pigments, dispersions, powder, crystallites, emulsions, cluster, fullerenes,…)
  • Composites/gradient materials
  • Supra molecular units
  • Corrosion inhibitors
  • Zeolite reactors
  • Soft magnets / ferrofluids / magnetical particles
  • Molecular chemionic
  • Ceramicprocess engineering
  • Hybrid-, effect pigments


Electronics / Information technology

  • Photovoltaics-cells
  • Batteries / fuel cells / condensers
  • Pastes
  • Resiste
  • Inductive components
  • Quantum components
  • NLO-components
  • Metalpigments for data memories
  • Structural and joining technology


Automobile manufacture / engineering

  • Ceramic engine parts
  • Light constructional materials
  • Functional layers (anti-stick-, air-conditioning-, de-mister layers….)
  • Colour effect lacquers and foils
  • Gas storage
  • Attenuator
  • Backlight
  • Super hard alloy



  • Catalysts with enlarged surface
  • Systems of compacted nanomaterials (membranes, reinforced plastics, light absorber, aero gels, light emitter)