Equipment, software, and services news for small-tech developers

NanoFocus AG has integrated micronsurf analysis surface analysis software, based on a new version of Digital Surf’s Mountains technology (which NanoFocus calls “the worldwide reference in 2D/3D surface analysis”) into its micronsurf 3D topometers and micronscan profilometers. The software makes measurement data available within seconds; stand-alone and network versions are available on three levels to meet different user requirements.

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NanoFocus targets laboratories needing to measure and test 3D technical surfaces with micro- and nanodimensional structures. Its topometer uses a fast confocal imaging technique to capture 3D images in a single operation.

Following the introduction of the Gannen-XP, a tool designed to enable ultra precision 3D measurements, Netherlands-based Xpress Precision Engineering BV has released the Gannen-XM. The XM is optimized for true 3D measurements on micro components and MEMS. “We see a rising demand for 3D measurements on micro components and MEMS,” says Ir. Bos, director of technology for Xpress. “Lower stiffness, lower replacement costs, and smaller tips make the Gannen-XM ideal for these kinds of measurements.”

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The Gannen-XM is fully compatible with the mounting of the Gannen-XP. To minimize preparation downtime, the company recommends a dual setup. Probing forces with the Gannen-XM are in the micro-Newton range and the probing system can be delivered with probing tips down to 50 micrometers.

Carl Zeiss SMT’s new compact CENTRA 100 transmission electron microscope (TEM) was designed to offer resolution to 0.2nm. It promises ease of use and fast specimen exchange capability, and thus is well-suited for biomedical and clinical lab environments. The system offers a choice of two imaging modes: high resolution and high contrast. It enables rotation-free imaging while the magnification is being changed, as well as creation of panoramic images.

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Another recent release from Carl Zeiss, ZEN 2007 is an integrated suite of digital imaging software designed to reduce the complexity of advanced microscopes without diminishing the range and scope of the functions available. ZEN switches between Basic and Professional modes in response to user input, and its interface can be individually tailored to each experiment and user. In “Exposé” mode, images from up to three image containers can be opened simultaneously to allow comparison.

In 2006, NIL Technology introduced a nickel standard stamp with structures as small as 100nm—and thereby helped to make nanoimprint lithography more broadly available. Now the company offers its second standard stamp, in quartz (fused silica) and silicon, with features as small as 50nm. With the release, the company covers a wider market. The Qz and Si stamps are priced at 4,900 Euros.

XCOM Wireless Inc., developer of radio-frequency products, and Innovative Micro Technology, a MEMS contract manufacturer, have reached a “critical milestone” in producing a joint RF MEMS relay product. The partners have implemented a wafer manufacturing process to produce dies in high volumes at low cost, they say, adding that they have automated wafer-level testing, established critical process controls, and enhanced temperature tolerance for soldering. XCOM is now sampling SPDT (single pole double through) RF MEMS relays for size-constrained and performance-critical applications in automated test equipment, RF instrumentation, and military and civilian radios.

According to equilibar, the company’s new Vacuum Regulator provides more than 5x the flow stability of traditional spring regulators, and thus provides a constant vacuum process across varying gas flow changes. The unit is actually two vacuum regulators in one, with a small pilot regulator controlling a larger regulator below. Taken together, they promise highly sensitive and stable control with all the simplicity and convenience of standard vacuum regulators.

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“With existing products, there is no good option for high precision under widely varying gas flow rates,” according to the company. “Our regulator can be used in processes where steady state vacuum is a must, such as coating and cryogenics.” Based on Equilibar’s patented technology, the tool is available in SS316 and PTFE bodies, and with Viton and PTFE diaphragms for aggressive chemistries.

Wafer-bonding and lithography equipment maker EV Group (EVG) and semi-conductor developer Brewer Science claim a “milestone” in handling and processing of ultrathin wafers: demonstrated temporary wafer bonding capabilities for a wide range of backside processes, including through-silicon vias (TSVs) and backside metallization. “This latest achievement further validates the viability of the companies’ unique approach, which is optimized for high-temperature advanced packaging applications,” they say. Their partnership, say EVG and Brewer, addresses demand for flexible, yet reliable, processes and equipment that can accommodate the challenges associated with increasingly thin and fragile wafers—particularly for advanced 3D and wafer-level packaging.

In addition, EVG received a multiple system, multi-million-Euro order from a leading European plastic electronics manufacturer, which will use it for high-volume production of flexible display modules destined for use within such consumer electronics products as portable electronic readers. EVG sees the sale as a key milestone for demonstrating use of its advanced coating technology.

Agilent’s new Pico Image is a modular atomic force microscope (AFM) imaging and analysis software package designed for researchers in a range of areas, including life sciences and material sciences. It was designed to analyze image data and generate dynamic, highly detailed surface analysis reports with “unprecedented power and ease,” and has been integrated into the PicoView software platform for Agilent’s complete line of AFMs.

Each Pico Image analysis document consists of a set of frames containing surfaces, profiles extracted from surfaces, the results of applying filters and other operators, analytical studies, and 2D and 3D parameters that conform to international standards. Real-time 3D imaging enables visualization, and videos of flight paths over a surface can also be integrated into Pico Image presentations.

The software promises an intuitive interface (with levels offering feature sets for basic, advanced, and expert users), online help, and multi-language support.

Schott says its new AF 32 glass material, designed for leading-edge opto-electronics applications, is chemically stable for MEMS packaging. In addition, it boasts a higher temperature resistance than AF 45 and has a CTE that matches silicon. This quality, according to company claims, helps prevent warp during the manufacture of complex assemblies and during reflow, when a WLCSP imager is attached to a printed circuit board. These properties enable manufacturers to use thinner wafer cover glasses and replace the back glasses on their packages with plastic. In addition, AF 32 glass’ CTE makes it more suitable for use in 12-inch wafer production.

Caliper Life Sciences’ new Zephyr SPE Workstation is a benchtop system designed to automate solid phase extraction (SPE) and streamline mass spectrometer analysis. With features including a 96-well plate format and an SPE-specific software interface, the Zephyr SPE hopes to increase efficiency and streamline the sample preparation process for mass spectrometer analysis.

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SPE is a fundamental process for practical applications including contract research screening and forensic sample screening. “As the mass spectrometry market continues to grow, increased demand has been placed on sample preparation tools. Researchers need reliable systems that improve throughput and streamline processes,” says John Siira, market segment manager for Caliper Life Sciences. The Zephyr can process 96 samples simultaneously, promises cost efficiency with a benchtop design, and offers clog detection, for reliable processing of all samples.

Veeco Instruments says its new InSight 3D Automated Atomic Force Microscope AFM is “the only metrology system available with the accuracy and precision required for non-destructive, high- resolution 3D measurements of critical 45nm and 32nm semiconductor features, with the speed to qualify as a true fab tool.” The company designed it specifically to address critical dimension (CD), depth, and chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) metrology in a production environment.

Oxford Instruments has received an order for nine process tool systems worth more than £2.5m ($5 million) to equip a new cleanroom facility at the University of Southampton in the UK. The complex will serve the School of Electronics and Computer Science and the Optoelectronics Research Center. The nine systems will provide capabilities in research and development of novel nanoelectronic, MEMS, and photonic devices. Among the tools are both plasma etch and deposition systems, with two Plasmalab System100 ICP etch tools, two Plasmalab80Plus open-loading RIE tools, and two Plasmalab-System100 PECVD tools, plus a number of Oxford Instruments’ newest products: a FlexAL plasma/thermal atomic layer deposition (ALD) tool, a Nanofab nanowire and nanotube growth tool, and a large-chamber Ionfab ion beam system.

The Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), based in Edinburgh, Scotland, has launched a range of new services that it hopes will help UK-based companies minimize the environmental and health risks of working with nanomaterials. Complementing the IOM’s SAFENANO Information Service and Community Portal, SAFENANO Scientific Services (SSS) will provide companies producing and using nanotechnologies with “a multidisciplinary range of solutions to ensure they can offer employees a safe and healthy working environment and end products that are safe for customers.” SSS will offer advice and support to help ensure companies meet regulatory duties, achieve effective product stewardship, and manage potential liabilities. The group’s services include testing, workplace occupational hygiene, toxicology reports and reviews, as well as related training for staff and management.

Oxfordgen Gene Technology’s (OGT) new Oligome is a comprehensive database of more than 10 million oligonucleotide probes designed to the latest release of the human genome. The database makes it possible to provide custom-designed oligonucleotide arrays for comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) on request, more quickly and at a lower cost than would normally be expected, according to company claims. The arrays are fabricated using inkjet technology with base-by-base synthesis that allows high-precision feature placement, and denser coverage of regions of interest. OGT offers custom-designed CGH arrays for analyzing chromosomal abnormalities within focused areas of the human genome at high resolution.

As part of the free design service, scientists can provide OGT their regions of interest. OGT then performs the Oligome-based bioinformatics required to design, fabricate, and deliver the desired focused arrays.

jeol usa’s new CarryScope, a mobile scanning electron microscope (SEM), can travel or be easily moved to different locations as needed, such as between lab, conference room, or office for inspection of products. The SEM delivers several high-resolution performance imaging and analytical capabilities of conventional electron microscopes. Standard features include 8x to 300,000x imaging and up to 5.0nm resolution. The CarryScope produces a sharp image that makes it possible to conduct and annotate high-precision measurements on sub-micron structures.

An optional eucentric motorized specimen stage holds a specimen up to 150mm (6 inches) in diameter. Other options include low vacuum, EDS compatibility, and multiple live image display, such as picture in picture. A stage navigation system and SmileShot software with smart settings for routine imaging further enhance the capabilities of this small footprint SEM.