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“What I want to talk about is the problem of manipulating and controlling things on a small scale” stated Richard P. Feynman at the beginning of his visionary talk “There´s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”, given on December 29th 1959 at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society at the California Institute of Technology. Today, almost half a century after this first insight into unlimited opportunities on the nanoscale level, we still want – and have to – talk about the same issue. The problem identified by Feynmann turned out to be a very difficult one due to a lack of understanding of the underlying phenomena in the nanoworld and a lack of suitable nanohandling methods. This book addresses the second issue and tries to contribute to the tremendous effort of the research community in seeking proper solutions in this field. Automated robot-based nanomanipulation is one of the key challenges of microsystem technology and nanotechnolgy, which has recently been addressed by a rising number of R&D groups and companies all over the world. Controlled, reproducible assembly processes on the nanoscale will enable high-throughput manufacturing of revolutionary products and open up new application fields. The ultimate goal of these research activities is the development of automated nanomanipulation processes to build a bridge between existing precise handling strategies for micro- and nanoscale objects and aspired high-throughput fabrication of micro- and nanosystems.



1. Trends in Nanohandling

The handling of micro- and nanoscale objects is an important current trend in robotics. It is often referred to as nanohandling, having in mind the range of aspired positioning accuracy. The Greek word “nanos” (dwarf) refers to the physical unit of a nanometer = 1 nm = 10−9m. In this book, we understand nanohandling as the manipulation of microscale and nanoscale objects of different nature with an accuracy in the (sub-) nanometer range, which may include their finding, grasping, moving, tracking, releasing, positioning, pushing, pulling, cutting, bending, twisting, etc. Additionally, different characterization methods, e.g., indenting or scratching on the nanoscale, measurement of different features of the object, requiring probe positioning with nanometer accuracy, structuring or shaping of nanostructures, and generally all kinds of changes to matter at nanolevel could also be defined as nanohandling in the broadest sense.
Sergej Fatikow

2. Robot-based Automated Nanohandling

Within the last ten years, the interest of industry and research and development institutes in the handling of micro- and nanometer-sized parts has grown rapidly [1]. Micro- and nanohandling has become a very common task in the industrial field and in research in the course of ongoing miniaturization. Typical applications include the manipulation of biological cells under an optical light microscope, the assembly of small gears for miniaturized gearboxes, the handling of lamellae cut out of a silicon wafer in the semiconductor industry, and the chemical and physical characterization of nanoscale objects. The number of applications for nanohandling and nanoassembly is expected to grow rapidly with the development of nanotechnology. The handling process is the precursor of the assembly process, hence, in this chapter, these expressions are used equally where not explicitly stated.
Thomas Wich, Helge Hülsen

3. Learning Controller for Microrobots

The mobile microrobots developed by AMiR and described in the previous chapter are controlled automatically or via teleoperation. Feedback during these processes is provided by a global pose sensor, which could be a scanning electron microscope (SEM), a light microscope or a video camera. As described in the next section, the mobile microrobot’s pose controller contains several sequential subtasks that are performed before the signals that are applied to the microrobot’s actuators are determined. These subtasks are either performed by a computer in automatic mode or by a human being in teleoperation mode (Figure 3.1), except for the actuator controller, which is typically implemented by an electronic device or a computer.
Helge Hülsen

4. Real-time Object Tracking Inside an SEM

Within the last few years, a trend towards the automation of nanohandling processes has emerged. One key problem is the development of a global sensor to measure the position of handling tools and nanoobjects during the manipulation process. The sensor data is required as feedback to enable the closed-loop positioning of the tools and nanoobjects.
Torsten Sievers

5. 3D Imaging System for SEM

Handling processes with the aim of changing the position of objects relative to each other can be carried out by a microrobot-based nanohandling station (Chapters 1 and 2), which makes the teleoperated or automated handling of nanoobjects possible. Because the object size is in the range of m, sub- m, and even down to a few nm, scanning electron microscopes (SEM) are increasingly employed to observe these processes. They allow enormous magnifications to be achieved, so that manipulation processes on the nanometer scale can be observed.
Marco Jähnisch

6. Force Feedback for Nanohandling

The development of microrobots for nanohandling, with ever-growing demands regarding flexibility and automation, raises the problem of appropriate process control. With dimensions of the parts to be handled of sometimes considerably less than 100 nm and with a typical positioning accuracy in the nanometer range, nanohandling applications have detached several orders of magnitude from the operators’ macroscopic realm of experience. Powerful sensory feedback is required to overcome this scale gap [1] and to be able to handle and manufacture such small devices. The extraction and transfer of process information from the micro- and nanoworld into the macroworld are great challenges. However, they are important preconditions for closed-loop microrobotic control systems and thus a key to reliable nanohandling [2].
Stephan Fahlbusch

7. Characterization and Handling of Carbon Nanotubes

The progressive reduction of integrated circuits is reaching the limit of structures that are realizable by lithographic methods. Intel is announcing 45 nm transistors for the year 2007. Using electron beam lithography, structures down to 10 nm are producible. But this will be the absolute lower limit for lithographic structuring, so that new materials have to be developed for a further miniaturization of structures.
Volkmar Eichhorn, Christian Stolle

8. Characterization and Handling of Biological Cells

This chapter will exclusively focus on the manipulation and characterization of biological cells by an atomic force microscope (AFM). Although other methods such as optical tweezers [1], dielectrophoresis [2], etc. exist, not only would detailed commenting on every branch of biohandling go beyond the scope of this chapter, but also most of these techniques are well established, while AFM-based characterization and manipulation is a strongly developing area. A brief comparison of AFM, dielectrophoresis and optical tweezer as manipulation and characterization methods for biological objects is given in Table 8.1.
Saskia Hagemann

9. Material Nanotesting

Instrumented indentation is one of the most commonly used methods to determine the mechanical properties of materials. This method is based on the penetration of a body with a known geometry into the material’s surface. Both the force (or load) necessary for this penetration and the depth of indentation have to be measured, either separately or simultaneously.
Iulian Mircea, Albert Sill

10. Nanostructuring and Nanobonding by EBiD

Since 1974, when Taniguchi coined the expression nanotechnology [1] as a description of manufacturing processes, a lot of different techniques for manufacturing on this small scale have been developed. Until that time, manufacturing processes on the micrometer scale used to be the limit. Conventional semiconductor-processing technologies are mostly limited by the achievable resolution in lithography. However, this resolution depends on the wavelength of light — or, in general, on electromagnetic waves. In order to process materials on the nanometer scale, it is either necessary to develop a new approach in materials structuring (often referred to as the bottom-up approach) or to extend the possibilities of common techniques, for example by using electromagnetic waves with considerably shorter wavelengths.
Thomas Wich


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