Application Image Competition on Advanced Micro- & Nanofabrication 2023/2024

Congratulations to the winners!

We are thrilled to announce the results of our 2023/2024 Application Image Competition, which showcased the capabilities of our tools in advanced research.

The competition attracted an impressive array of submissions from around the world, highlighting the remarkable breakthroughs and innovations taking place in fields such as nanotechnology, biomedical engineering, quantum devices, flexible electronics, photonics, and more. The competition truly captured the spirit of cutting-edge research and the potential of our technology.

From June 1, 2023 through February 29, 2024 all users of Heidelberg Instruments systems were invited to participate in the second edition of the “Application Image Competition on Advanced Micro- & Nanofabrication”. The competition is an opportunity for the worldwide community to showcase their work, using Heidelberg Instruments communication channels, to win a total of 10,000 € in prizes. Each prize will be given as a donation.

  • Upload 1 to 5 images and/or a short video (< 3min) illustrating one innovative application, referred to as “images” in the following text.
  • Submitted images should highlight the use of a Heidelberg Instruments tool (any current or past system including VPG, DWL, MLA, µPG, µMLA, NanoFrazor & MPO 100). 
  • The images must be free of third-party copyright. 
  • The images can be made with any equipment (e.g. cameras or microscopes).
  • The images can be slightly edited when it serves an illustrative purpose (e.g. scale bar or naming of elements). 
  • Heidelberg Instruments will have the full rights to use the images online or in printed form. It will be associated with a reference chosen by the submitter (author’s name and/or institution).
  • Winners will be selected by a committee nominated by Heidelberg Instruments.
  • Multiple entries, regarding different applications, will be accepted and should be made separately.
  • Illustrative quality of the images (the images should help in understanding the application).
  • Aesthetic and quality of the images (accuracy, sharpness & resolution). 
  • Clear and concise descriptions of the application and its associated images.     
  • Creativity and innovation of the application.
  • Energy-saving or green environmental advantages of the application will also be taken into account.

1st Prize

Fabrication of Single-crystal Suspended sub-300 nm Si Nanowires (Si NWs) for High-Performance Next-generation Sensors

The first place in this years’ Application Image Competition has been awarded to

Basit Ali
Ph.D Candidate, Micro-Nano Fabrication Laboratory, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey

Mehdi Bostan Shirin, Dr. Umut Kerimzade, Prof. Dr. Erdem Alaca

System used:
Heidelberg Instruments DWL 66⁺ Laser Lithography System

One-dimensional materials like silicon (Si) nanowires are crucial for advanced biochemical and inertial sensors. However, conventional electron beam (e-beam) lithography suffers from drawbacks such as slow speed and high costs. Utilizing the Heidelberg Instruments DWL 66+ lithography tool, suspended Si nanowires are fabricated with precise patterning of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) anchors, followed by ion-beam etching for monolithic fabrication. Compared to e-beam lithography, the DWL 66+ significantly simplifies fabrication, reduces environmental impact, and cuts writing time drastically. Fine-tuning achieves nanowire critical dimensions as small as 250 nm. This low-cost, high-resolution approach offers potential for nanowire-based biochemical sensors and opens new horizons for inertial sensors with precise MEMS and nanowire geometries.

Jury Statement:
The attainment of critical dimensions as fine as 250 nm through ion-beam etching necessitates a lithography process with high uniformity and repeatability. This achievement demonstrates the high stability of our DWL 66+ lithography system.

2nd Prize

Single-cell Microfluidic Trapping System to Study Single Immune T Cell Dynamics

Wei-Che Chang
PhD Candidate, Integrated Photonics and Applications Centre (InPAC), School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Crispin Szydzik, Dr.Apriliana E. R. Kartikasari, Dr. Cesar S. Huertas, Brianna Bradley, Dr. Cartos Escobedo, Dist. Prof. Magdalena Plebanski, Dist. Prof. Arnan Mitchell

System used:
Heidelberg Instruments MLA 150 Maskless Aligner

Ovarian cancer claims over 200,000 lives annually, yet current treatments are unsatisfactory. Immunotherapy shows promise by reversing T-cell exhaustion to combat cancer but lacks temporal information due to tedious scanning of non-adherent cells in microscopy. Developing a platform for parallel analysis of single cells is crucial. Microfluidic devices offer high spatial and temporal resolution. This research presents a double-layered cell trapping array for multiplex single-cell isolation, utilizing the MLA 150 Maskless Aligner for precise fabrication, aligning two micrometer scale patterns correctly serving as a mold for the PDMS microfluidic chip (µFC). In this model, 200 Jurkat cells (one type of T-cell) were isolated, and their dynamic process of fluorescence dye intake was recorded in one field. This platform provides critical high-content data for immune cell research, advancing potential immunotherapy for ovarian cancer eradication.

Jury Statement:
We take great pride in knowing that our tools play a role in advancing medical research, particularly when they contribute to efforts aimed at eradicating cancer. It’s immensely fulfilling to see our technology utilized in such critical endeavors that hold the potential to positively impact countless lives.

3rd Prize

Grayscale Direct-write Laser Annealing of Magnetic Thin Films

Dr. Lauren Riddiford
Postdoctoal Researcher, Laboratory for Mesoscopic Systems, ETH Zurich – Paul Scherrer Institute, Zurich, Switzerland

Dr. Jeffrey Brock, Katarzyna Murawska, Dr. Ales Hrabec, and Prof. Laura Heyderman

System used:
Heidelberg Instruments DWL 66⁺ Laser Lithography System

This study utilized the DWL 66+‘s grayscale capability without photoresist, employing “direct-write laser” on a magnetic thin film to induce local magnetic property changes. For instance, in a CoFeB-Pt magnetic multilayer, the perpendicular magnetic anisotropy decreases with increasing laser power, dissipating magnetism at high powers, enabling magnetic wire definition without material removal. Utilizing the “Advanced Grayscale” of the DWL 66+, a snowflake design was created, reflecting magnetic properties where the anisotropy increases with radius, controlling magnetization switch under a magnetic field. The applied magnetic field expands the “down” magnetic domain along the anisotropy gradient. The circular region resistant to magnetization switching is defined by annealing outside the snowflake design with high laser power.
This newfound ability opens opportunities for innovative devices utilizing material property gradients.

Jury Statement:
We were pleasantly surprised by the innovative application of our tool’s capabilities. Utilizing grayscale to locally modify magnetic properties is a concept we hadn’t considered. We’re delighted when the ingenuity of our tool users exceeds our expectations, showcasing the versatility and potential of our technology.

4th Prize

GaN devices: Fabricated Array of Gold Air Bridges

Shonkho Shuvro
PhD Scholar, Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, India

System used:
Heidelberg Instruments µPG501 (predecessor of µMLA)

The air bridges, serving as metal interconnects in RF devices and other applications, are manufactured on a silicon substrate. They are made from suspended metal films approximately 3-4 micrometers thick. They were patterned using a Heidelberg Instruments µPG 501 (the predecessor of the µMLA) involving a dual lithography approach with a thick photoresist, AZ 4562. To shape the arch structure, resist reflow is performed. Gold deposition was achieved via electroplating. This manufacturing method, akin to wire-bonding, operates at a micron scale.

Jury Statement:
These visually captivating structures, serving as metal interconnects in RF devices highlight the potential for creating similar structures using grayscale lithography instead of resist reflow. This way, the exposure could be realized in a single lithography process.

5th Prize

Grayscale Nanotopographies Combining t-SPL and Nanoimprint for 2D Nanoelectronics

Dr. Xia Liu, Berke Erbas
Microsystems Laboratory (LMIS1), EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland

Prof. Juergen Brugger

System used:
Heidelberg Instruments NanoFrazor

The emergence of grayscale nanolithography coincides with the rise of 2D materials, like semiconductors, heralding potential for advanced nanoelectronics. These materials offer remarkable electrical properties, promising to revolutionize processors by enabling sub-10 nm channel lengths and nanosheet stacked transistors. Yet, challenges such as lower electron mobility compared to silicon persist, necessitating further research into their integration and physical properties. Strain engineering, akin to silicon-based methods, shows promise in enhancing carrier mobility. The study demonstrates effective strain modulation in monolayer MoS2 through conforming to nanoengineered dielectric layers. This generic technique, applicable to diverse 2D materials, regardless of type, holds potential for various applications, underlining the evolving landscape of nanotechnology.

Jury Statement:
Amazed by the prowess of our NanoFrazor in skilled researchers’ hands: merging grayscale nanolithography with MoS2 results in visually stunning nanoelectronic devices. This, paired with patterned MoS2 channels and lift-off metallization, promises enhanced device performance.

Honorable Mention

30-inch diameter diffractive lens on space polymer

Hyung Jung Kim
Research Physicist, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, USA

System used:
Heidelberg Instruments DWL 66fs with backside alignment

This project involved crafting a 30-inch diameter diffractive lens on Mylar film using the DWL 66fs with backside alignment. Employing a flexible, transparent substrate with a removable grid pattern enabled micro-patterning of large lenses, surpassing the 7-inch maximum substrate size processed by NASA’s DWL 66fs. The lens, composed of rings tens of micrometers wide, with a focal length of 164 feet (50 meters), exhibited precise focusing across its entirety during testing, affirming fabrication accuracy. The goal is to evaluate the imaging quality and the efficiency of the lens through outdoor testing for real-world applications.

Jury Statement:
Although the size of the microstructures does not present a challenge, the notable utilization of the tool’s backside alignment capabilities is remarkable. Moreover, the application itself is highly intriguing, and we take pride in the utilization of our systems in a major aeronautical and space research center.

Do you think your project could win first prize?

Take part in the next edition!

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