Thermal scanning probe lithography tool with a hybrid direct laser sublimation and grayscale patterning capability

The NanoFrazor® Explore is the first commercial thermal scanning probe lithography system. The NanoFrazor® Explore can be used in various application areas, such as quantum devices, 1D/2D materials such as quantum dots, Dolan bridges and Josephson junctions, and nanoscale arrays. The unique capabilities of the NanoFrazor® Explore enable novel research in both new devices and in new materials. For example, thermal scanning probe lithography can be used in advanced applications such as grayscale photonics devices, nanofluidics structures or biomimetic substrates for cell growth, or any application requiring local modification of materials via heat, e.g. chemical reactions and physical phase changes.

With the direct laser sublimation module, nano- and micro-structures are now seamlessly and quickly written into the same resist layer in a single fabrication step. In-situ imaging enables two unique features: markerless overlay and comparison of the written and target patterns during writing in such a way that the parameters can be immediately adjusted. This approach, called closed-loop lithography, results in sub-2 nm vertical precision for 2.5D (grayscale) shapes of any complexity. Fast and precise control of a heated nanoscale tip enables innovation not otherwise feasible with other techniques.

The technology behind the system is the result of more than 20 years of intensive research and development (R&D) that started at IBM Research Zürich, and now takes place at Heidelberg Instruments Nano. The NanoFrazor® hardware and software are constantly advancing to extend the capabilities and performance of the tool and the wide range of applications. Our dedicated team of experts continues to develop and optimize the pattern transfer processes for different applications. We compile this know-how in a growing library of best practices and protocols to support our customers.


Easy patterning of nanostructures even with complex geometries; min. lateral features 15 nm, Vertical resolution 2 nm

Thermal Scanning Probe Lithography

New approach to nanopatterning enabling applications not otherwise feasible

Damage-free Lithography

No damage from charged particles, no proximity effects, clean lift-off


With all standard pattern transfer methods: lift-off, etching, etc. – knowledge resource and best practices available in our “Recipe Book”

In-situ Imaging

Immediate control of patterned structures

Precise Overlay and Stitching

Markerless overlay and stitching accuracy 25 nm specified, sub-10 nm overlay shown

Unique Thermal Cantilevers

Integrated microheater and distance sensor; easy to exchange and economical

Laser Sublimation Module

High-throughput exposure of coarse structures in the same exposure step; 405 nm wavelength CW fiber laser


1850 mm x 780 mm x 1280 mm

Vibration Isolation

Three-layer acoustic and superior vibration isolation (>98% @ 10 Hz)

Low Cost of Ownership

No need for cleanroom, vacuum pump or expensive consumables

Grayscale Software Module

2.5D patterning at <2 nm vertical resolution

Glovebox Integration

Customized solution ensures minimized contamination for work in controlled environments

Customer applications

Technical Data

Thermal Probe WritingDirect Laser Sublimation
Patterning performance
Minimum structure size [nm]15600
Minimum Lines and Spaces [half pitch, nm]251000
Grayscale / 2.5D-resolution (step size in PPA) [nm]2-
Writing field size [X μm x Y μm]60 x 6060 x 60
Field stitching accuracy (markerless, using in-situ imaging) [nm]25600
Overlay accuracy (markerless, using in-situ imaging) [nm]25600
Write speed (typical scan speed) [mm/s]15
Write speed (50 nm pixel) [μm²/min] 1000100000
Topography performance
Lateral imaging resolution (feature size) [nm]1010
Vertical resolution (topography sensitivity) [nm]<0.5<0.5
Imaging speed (@ 50 nm resolution) [μm²/min]10001000
System features
Substrate sizes1 x 1 mm² to 100 x 100 mm² (150 x 150 mm² possible with limitations) Thickness: 10 mm with optical access, 15 mm without optical access.
Optical microscope0.6 μm digital resolution, 2 μm diffraction limit, 1.0 mm x 1.0 mm field of view, autofocus
Laser source and optics405 nm wavelength CW fiber laser, more than 110 mW output power on sample, 1.2 μm minimum focal spot size
Real-time laser autofocusUsing the distance sensor of the NanoFrazor® cantilever
Magnetic cantilever holderFast (<1 min) and accurate tip exchange
HousingThree-layer acoustic isolation, superior vibration isolation (>98% @ 10 Hz) PC-controlled temperature and humidity monitoring, gas-flow regulation
Software featuresGDS and bitmap import, 0.1 nm address grid, 256 grayscale levels, topography image analysis and drawing for overlay, mix & match between tip and laser writing, fully automated calibration routines, Python scripting
NanoFrazor® cantilever features
Integrated componentsTip heater, topography sensor, electrostatic actuation
Tip geometryConical tip with <10 nm radius and 750 nm length
Tip heater temperature range25 °C – 1100 °C (<1 °C setpoint resolution)
System dimensions & installation requirements
Height × width × depth1850 mm x 780 mm x 1280 mm
Weight650 kg
Power input1 x 110 or 220 V AC, 10 A
Gas inputCompressed air and/or nitrogen with >4 bar
Other considerations
Recipe book with detailed descriptions of various processes is included (regularly updated with software)
Cantilever tips degrade over time (>50 h patterning possible). Exchange is fast and low cost for tool owners.
A clean room or special laboratory is not required. No vacuum needed.

Please note
Specifications depend on individual process conditions and may vary according to equipment configuration. Write speed depends on pixel size and write mode. Design and specifications are subject to change without prior notice.

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