MCN is a world-class nanofabrication centre, combining cutting-edge technologies with the skills and expertise of our staff. Part of the Australian National Fabrication Facility, ANFF, we enable research institutions and industry around Australia to collaborate and innovate.
The MCN facilitates the integration of micro and nanotechnology techniques into the research and development activities that support Australia’s innovation and manufacturing economies.
The MCN comprises world-class cleanroom fabrication facilities as well as biochemistry and advanced microscopy laboratories. We provide research institutions and industry clients with open access to cutting-edge micro and nano fabrication equipment and technologies as well as the expertise to support innovative projects.
MCN has key expertise in lithography, thin film deposition, chemical etching, reactive ion etching and characterisation, using a broad range of materials including metals, silicon, diamond, nitrides and oxides. We are particularly relevant in application areas such as energy, biosensing, microfluidics and nanofluidics, nanomedicine and drug delivery, micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS), optics and medical bionics.
Take a glance at the MCN cleanroom and labs here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SZ642TZa0w
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a ultra-high resolution imaging technology and it is one of the most versatile characterization methods. AFM performs scanning probe microscopy at a very high resolution scale. Atomic Force Microscopy has a wide range of applications including nanoscale materials and surface characterisation, electrical materials characterisation, interaction forces and mechanical properties mapping. MCN's AFM tool is the Dimension iCon AFM which provides the highest level of functionality, accessibility and performance, with ultra-low drift and the lowest tip/sample force control to a wide range of users in science and industry. It features a number of application modules such as ScanAsystTM, Peak Force QNMTM (PFQNM), Electrical Materials Characterisation and Heating and Cooling Studies. MCN also has a BioAFM.
Bio AFM has many uses such as pharmaceutical studies, immunology studies, biosensing applications, antibody/antigen binding studies, as well as intermolecular studies such as protein folding. MCN's Bio AFM is the Nanowizard II Bio AFM. It is designed for imaging fixed and live cells in air of biological or chemical fluids. It can be used to understand surface chemistry of cells and measure force spectroscopy of surfaces. It is able to take measurements at variable temperatures with the possibility of perfusion. It can also be integrated with the Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope.
Atomic Layer Deposition involves the deposition of materials one monolayer at a time and forms extremely uniform, conformal, pin-hole-free coatings on high aspect ratio structures. ALD has a vast array of applications from semiconductors, MEMS, nanostructures and optics through to wear resistant coatings. MCN has two ALD instruments – the Fiji F200 and the Savannah S100 both from Cambridge Nanotech. The Savannah system is thermal only, and it is integrated into a glovebox system meaning that samples can be kept in an inert environment. The Fiji F200 is capable of both thermal and Plasma Assisted ALD which expands the window for materials by decreasing activation energy and allows lower temperatures to avoid precursor decomposition, faster deposition times and fewer contaminates in films.
ANFF can provide consulting services to perform contract research or process engineering in the area of micro, nano and advanced materials fabrication to deliver prototypes or documented processes. Projects can be managed across each of the eight nodes of ANFF drawing on the resources of over 90 technical staff, 500 facilities and a network of academics.
Diamond is highly useful in all sorts of applications such as quantum information processing, electronics, medical bionics and biosensors. Some of its remarkable qualities include having the highest heat conductivity, as well as chemical and radiation resistance of any material, while it is also the hardest material known to man. Furthermore, it is biocompatible and hermetically sealed, making it an ideal substance for encasing implants, while its remarkable optical properties allow sensing of biological processes at the atomic scale. Microwave enhanced deposition uses a continuous microwave source to heat hydrogen and carbon in the form of methane, until the atoms break down to become highly reactive plasma. When the plasma comes into contact with an existing layer of diamond, hydrogen stabilises the surface while methane adds carbon in diamond lattices to the base diamond layer. In this way, gas is turned into layers of pure diamond. The systems are able to fabricate either single crystal layers or polycrystalline growths. MCN has two Seki Diamond Microwave Systems—AX6500X and AX6300. The AX6500X is used for growing ultra-high purity diamond, while the AX6300 is used for growing boron-doped diamond.
Furnace systems are used to treat materials at high temperatures to change their properties through diffusion, annealing and chemical vapour deposition. MCN has two furnace systems - The HiTech Furnace system and the SVCS four-stack horizontal furnace system. The HiTech Furnace is used to create layers of silicon dioxide on a silicon substrate, which can be achieved through wet or dry oxidation.The SVCS four-stack horizontal furnace system caters for atmospheric pressure diffusion, atmospheric pressure annealing and the low-pressure chemical vapour deposition of low strain and stoichiometric silicon nitride.
Direct write lithography is popular due to the flexibility and cost effectiveness associated with not being restricted to a substrate geometry. This is useful in R&D it is desirable to be able to test many iterations before proceeding with a particular design. MCN’S direct write lithography tool is the Intelligent Micropatterning SF100 XPRESS. It features three resolutions – 1um, 2um, 5um – which users can automatically switched between.
Electron beam evaporation is used to deposit electronic and optical films for the semiconductor industry and has applications in displays and photovoltaics. High melting point materials can be deposited at high deposition rates, making this a preferred process for refractory metal and ceramic films. MCN's instrument, the Intlvac Nanochrome II electron beam evaporation system, consists of a 10 kV power supply and supports up to sixteen 4 inch wafers or wafer mounted samples (larger sizes on a case by case basis). In addition the system also supports ion beam assisted deposition and substrate precleaning.
Electron Beam Lithography (EBL) allows users to write patterns with extremely high resolution at below 10 nm. Due to the high-resolution nature of the technique, EBL has a vast range of applications including, but not limited to, nano-electronics, photonics, plasmonics, nano-fluidics, Nano Electro Mechanical Systems, x-ray and neutron optics. MCN’s EBL tool is the Vistec EBPG5000plusES, a top-tier EBL instrument, which is the only one of its kind in Australia.
Electroplating is highly useful in the production of semi-conducting electronics and optics. Different metals can also be used to grow shims for use in hot embossing and nano-imprint lithography, while they can also help to protect surfaces from aggressive etching processes. Nickel electroplating can also be used to cast PDMS in the creation of fluidic cells. MCN has the capability to provide high quality Nickel and Gold coatings and embossing shims using the Digital Matrix PMT-16 and SA1000.
Spectroscopic Ellipsometry is an optical characterization technique which provides unequalled sensitivity for thin film measurements and a non destructive, contactless way to measure thin films. Ellipsometry is primarily used to characterize film thickness as well as composition such as roughness, crystalline nature, electrical conductivity and doping concentration. It can be used to measure a wide variety of films. MCN’s Ellipsometry instrument is the J.A Woollam M-2000DI which is able to collect over 500 wavelengths simultaneously. It is able to measure films between 2nm and 3 um thick.
Field Emission Gun Scanning Electron Microscopy (FEG-SEM)
SEM is a key tool for process characterization of surface topography. Virtually every sample fabricated in the cleanroom undergoes at least one set of SEM imaging, in order to assess the quality of the fabrication and its defects. MCN’s FEG-SEM is the FEI NovaNanoSEM-430, which features 1 to 30 kV acceleration voltage and a 5 axis stage, 100 mm stage movements. It can host up to 6 inch wafers in the chamber. It is located in the class 100 cleanroom environment.
High resolution FIB Lithography has significant advantages as a single-step nanoscale prototyping method. It is capable of subtractive or additive lithography and is highly versatile, allowing advanced materials characterisation, resist-free high resolution pattering of nano structures and precise cross sectional analysis of samples. MCN's FIB tool is the FEI Helios Nanolab 600 Dual Beam FIB-SEM
The FEI Helios NanoLab 600 Dual Beam FIB-SEM features an ultra-high resolution SEM and focused ion beam (FIB). The innovative Elstar Schottky thermal field emission electron gun with hot-swap capability provides outstanding resolution imaging performance of up to 1 nm at low kV. Fine surface morphological detail is enhanced at very low electron beam energies and the Helios NanoLab 600 FIB-SEM can operate from 30kV down to 200V. It has a piezo-driven high precision 5-axes motorised stage that can be tilted between -10 degrees and +60 degrees. It is also equipped with the Genesis EDX detector to analyse the chemical composition of samples as well as a STEM detector which allows the imaging of very thin samples in transmission, acquiring TEM comparable images with all the advantages of the SEM.
Hot embossing achieves fast patterning at a resolution of 50nm and addresses a wide range of applications, from polymer-based lab-on-chip systems to the fabrication of sub 50 nm features for bio-sensing or data recording applications, as well as microfluidics, MEMS, optoelectronics, packaging and SOI production. MCN’s hot embossing tool is the EVG520IS.
Hyperspectral imaging performs a similar role to microspectrometry, but images a much larger area to provide information on a process within its larger context. It covers a wide spectral range of 400nm-1000nm in the one grating, by producing a line-by-line scan and reconstructing them into an image.
The CytoViva Hyperspectral Imaging System combines brightfield, darkfield and fluorescence in the one instrument. The Darkfield condenser is specially designed to offer up to 100nm lateral resolution. This system offers widefield 3D deconvolution, enabling applications such as localisation of nanoparticles in cells.
Laser Doppler Vibrometry is useful in the characterization of MEMS devices, as well as piezoelectrics and Surface Acoustic Wave Devices. MCN has two Laser Doppler Vibrometers, the Polytec MSA-400 and UHF-120. The MSA-400 features a fully integrated system, combining a microscope with Scanning Laser Doppler Vibrometry and Stroboscopic Video Microscopy for planar motion analysis. Utilised in the MEMS device design cycle, the MSA-400 provides precise 3-D dynamic and static response data that simplifies troubleshooting, enhances and shortens design cycles, improves yield and performance, and reduces product cost. The UHF-120 has a much larger bandwidth allowing for characterization of samples with a 1 um diameter at ultra-high frequencies of up to 1.2 GHz.
LSCM is useful for the topographical study of materials as well as life science applications such as the imaging of live and fixed cells. It is able to image both opaque and transparent fluorescent materials at different depths, providing an understanding of surface structure for opaque materials and an understanding of internal structures for transparent materials. A unique feature of LSCM is the ability to capture both very fast and very slow biological reactions. With fast resonant scanning, the LSCM can capture up to 400 frames per second enabling the imaging of processes such as calcium reactions. By providing time-lapse capabilities, the LSCM can capture long-term processes such as live cell cleaving and drug delivery into cells. MCN’s LSCM is the Nikon A1Rsi which is attached to an inverted microscope where a laser is combined with a photomultiplier tube detector. The LSCM is able to image specimens at an axial and lateral resolution of 250nm to create high resolution X,Y and Z images of 40002 pixels. It features four solid state lasers to cover almost all types of fluorescent dyes of 405nm, 488nm, 561nm and 635nm and Hybrid High resolution Galvano scanner and Fast Resonant Scanner.
Microarraying is a manufacturing platform for research and diagnostic applications, with the ability to miniaturise and multiplex many types of traditional assays. The microarray spotter is a useful tool for real-time polymerase chain reaction techniques as well as screening for food allergens, biomarker characterisation, gene expression, genotyping, comparative genomic hybridisation and immunoassays. The NanoPrintTM LM60 incorporates three 384 well sample microplates onto 60 standard glass substrates.
Microspectrometry is able to capture small areas at a very high resolution of 50nm. It uses a deep-cooled camera to reduce background noise and increase sensitivity. A unique feature of microspectrometry is its ability to measure a wide spectral range – 400nm – 1000nm with high spectral resolutions – and stitch together images from different wavelengths to provide a complete high resolution spectral curve. Microspectrometry is useful for the imaging of small areas, such as nano gold particles to measure their dynamics and see how they behave in certain environments.
A Nikon Ti-U Microscope is combined with Princeton Lightfield Software and a Deep Cooled EMMCD camera to provide these unique capabilities. It offers transmitted and reflected Brightfield and Darkfield applications.
Microwave enhanced deposition uses a continuous microwave source to heat hydrogen and methane until the atoms break down to become highly reactive plasma. When the plasma comes into contact with an existing layer of diamond, hydrogen stabilises the surface while methane adds carbon in diamond lattices to the base diamond layer. In this way, gas is turned into layers of pure diamond. By adding other gases to the plasma, diamond of different types can be fabricated including highly insulating and highly conducting materials. The systems are able to fabricate either single crystal layers or polycrystalline growths. Diamond is highly useful in all sorts of applications such as quantum information processing, electronics, medical bionics and biosensors. MCN has two Seki Diamond Microwave Systems—AX6500X and AX6300. The AX6500X is used for growing ultra-high purity diamond, while the AX6300 is used for growing boron-doped diamond.
Nanoimprint lithography involves refining the hot embossing process to work at the nano-scale. It can also be achieved by using a UV curable resist and subjecting the mold to UV light, rather than heat and pressure. This is useful in the creation of patterned media, optics, and lab on a chip systems.
Nanoimprint Lithography at MCN is performed on either the EVG 520IS or the EVG6200.
MCN's staff have key expertise in lithography, thin film deposition, chemical and reactive ion etching and characterisation. They are available for either service on demand engagements or offer consultancy services for clients.
3D optical profilometry employs phase-shifting and/or vertical scanning interferometry to resolve the topology of complex 3D structures. The technique marries precision z-axis control with interference based techniques to resolve features from the angstrom to millimetre scale. The technique lends itself well to die-based measurements for ISO/QA and large area mapping.
MCN’s particle characterization instrument is the Malvern Zetasizer Nano ZS. It is a combined particle sizer and zeta potential unit that can measure the hydrodynamic size of particles (0.6 nm – 6 µm), the zeta potential of particles in the size range of 5 nm – 10 µm, as well as estimate the molecular weight of polymers and proteins up to 2 x 107 Da with minimal sample volume. It is able to perform analysis and measurements of specimens in liquid suspensions.
Photolithography is central to most micro and nanofabrication applications including microfluidics and cantilever fabrication. The minimum feature sized achieved at MCN using mask lithography is 1um with a subsequent metal lift-off process.MCN features two photolithography tools – the EVG 6200 Mask Aligner and the ABM UV Flood Light Source. The EVG6200 allows for aligning multi layer features using multiple masks, meaning that multiple layers can be built up on a single device by using appropriate alignment markers in the mask design. The ABM UV Flood Light Source allows for fast patterning at a lower resolution.
Plasma Enhanced CVD combines silicon with oxygen gas or nitrogen gas to create a plasma that deposits a thin film of silicon dioxide or silicon nitrate onto a substrate. PECVD uses lower temperatures than the Furnace System to achieve an insulating layer on a variety of materials.
PECVD is used in optics, microelectronics, energy applications, packaging and chemistry for the deposition of antireflective coatings, scratch resistant transparent coatings, electronically active layers, passivation layers, dielectric layers, isolating layers, etch stop layers, encapsulation and chemical protective coatings. The PECVD system at MCN is a Oxford Instruments PLASMALAB100 PECVD and it is capable of depositing silicon dioxide and silicon nitride using a combination of gases.
The Angstrom Engineering polymer dual glovebox system for polymer electronics fabrication provides an inert atmosphere for spin coating, electrode or counter-electrode deposition and assembly of organic photovoltaic and other flexible electronic devices. Integrated into the glovebox system is a high vacuum chamber with mask transfer system for the thermal evaporative deposition of patterned electrodes and the ALD Savannah S100 system for counter electrode deposition.
Reactive ion etching is extensively used in the field of displays and lighting (LEDs), semiconductor and electronics, MEMS, communication technology, microfluidics, optoelectronics and photovoltaics.
MCN houses two RIE systems, both of which are Oxford Instruments PLASMALAB100 ICP380. One is dedicated for deep silicon etching called DRIE (Deep Reactive Ion Etching) which achieves high aspect ratio structures. The other is used as a general etch, wherein other materials including silicon dioxide, silicon nitride, germanium, aluminium, aluminium oxide, and numerous other dielectrics and metals can be etched using chlorine and fluorine chemistries.
Useful for its flexibility, PDMS is ideal in applications involving surfaces which are not flat. Alternatively, PDMS can be used in microfluidic applications, where rapid prototyping and ease of fabrication are important. It is also biocompatible and oxygen permeable making it useful in a broad range of bio-applications, and it is optically transparent and features tailorable material properties such as stiffness. MCN has a dedicated PDMS Lab where we use Sylgard 184 PDMS.
Profilometry is used to characterise the surface steps and the roughness of a material. The stylus profilometer available at MCN uses a direct contact method to register slight changes in the surface height of a material. Profilometry is useful in process control steps such as measuring etch depth and lithography patterns. MCN’s profilometer, the Ambios XP 200, features a 150x178mm motorized stage and is capable of performing 60mm in a single scan length, though it also features the possibility to stitch scans up to 150mm.
Resistive thermal evaporation is another form of physical vapour deposition and can be used to deposit metals, organic, and inorganic polymers. It used for Thin film deposition for polymer solar cells and flexible electronics. MCN’s thermal evaporation system is the Angstrom Engineering EvoVac. This system is integrated with the glove box and is equipped with a sample stage capable of heating and cooling the substrate.
TIRF Microscopy is used to perform investigations in living cells and to image minute structures or single molecules. It can be used to perform nanoparticle array characterization and to view cell functions such as exocytosis and protein trafficking. The Nikon Instrument TIRF with Ti-U system is attached to an inverted Nikon Microscope employing class 3B lasers for angle measurements. It features three solid state lasers of 405nm, 488nm and 561nm to cover fluorescent dyes of blue to red.
The Ultraviolet Visible Spectrophotometer is used to determine a material’s energy absorption by measuring the percentage of light passing through a sample. It can be used for quantitative analysis to work out the concentration of particles within a substance. The Agilent Cary UV Vis Spectrophotometer is capable of measuring absorbency for the wavelength range of 11nm to 190nm. It provides exceptionally fast data collection – with a scan rate of up to 24,000 nm/min.
Solid Surface analysis is important for determining electrokinetic potential of macroscopic solids where streaming potential and currents are measured. The instrument is also capable of acquiring single measurements at a specific pH or a titration, which can range for pH 2 – 12. With the availability of 3 mounts, a variety of samples ranging from solid surfaces to fabrics and powdered samples can be assessed. The electrokinetic analyser can measure surface potential (zeta potential) of smooth surfaces and IsoElectric Point of surfaces can also be identified. The Anton Paar zeta potential analyser at MCN is available with a clamping cell, cylindrical and adjustable cell mount.
Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (ANFF - Victorian Node) has not received any endorsements.