Compiled by Steve Smith
Cleanroom co-op in Korea
SEOUL, Korea-EV Group (Scharding, Austria; www.EVGroup.com), a manufacturer of MEMS, nano, and semiconductor wafer-processing equipment, is joining with Jinsan Scientific (www.jinsanco.co.kr) to operate a Class 100 cleanroom at the Technology Innovation Center of Sung Kyun Kwan University. The state-of-the-art facility is designed for MEMS and advanced packaging processes, as well as nano-imprint lithography. Joining several other suppliers of cleanroom equipment, EV Group is supplying advanced tools for the processes, all of which are capable of processing wafers and substrates up to 200 mm.
Integrated ‘immune’ innovation
AUSTIN, Texas-A nanosensor that is reportedly immune to the toxins it detects has been developed by engineers at the University of Texas and Georgia Tech University. The reusable sensor can detect nerve gas and similar toxic airborne agents without becoming contaminated. By integrating nanoscale techniques with microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), the engineering team has created what they call a nanoelectromechanical system that can detect as few as 50 molecules per billion of nerve gas. University of Texas Professor Li Shi explains, “Sensor poisoning is a persistent problem with other designs. Their active element is not a single-crystal film like ours. Nor do others operate their sensors at 500°C.” The nerve gas sensor, which Professor Shi designed with Georgia Tech Professor Zhong Lin Wang, is described as “completely self-cleaning, yet small and lower-power enough to be wearable.”
PALO ALTO, Calif.-Agilent Technologies Inc.’s (www.agilent.com) Laboratory Research Management (LRM) service for life science and pharmaceutical companies places engineers on-site to handle maintenance, repair, regulatory compliance, workflow consulting and reporting services for all chromatography and other analysis instrumentation. For large labs, Agilent says its service will increase efficiency and productivity, simplify administration, provide operational consistency, and reduce total service costs. In addition to on-site expertise, the LRM service is also designed to reduce time spent troubleshooting, reporting failures, escorting and refamiliarizing engineers, and requalifying failed modules.
Nanotech knows northeast
WASHINGTON, D.C.-Seven northeastern U.S. states, including five in New England, are viewed as the nation’s leaders in nanotech economic and promotional development. Top-ranked Massachusetts, says a recent report from Lux Research (www.luxresearchinc.com) entitled “Benchmarking U.S. States for Economic Development from Nanotechnology,” has excelled in nanotechnology development because of its leading universities and high concentration of technology entrepreneurs, even though it does not have a coordinated statewide initiative. Nearby states Connecticut (tie 7), New Hampshire (12), Vermont (18) and Rhode Island (tie 22) have benefited from the Massachusetts trickle-down effect while also employing their own recruiting and/or economic initiatives. While New York (10) provides the greatest state-level funding to attract jobs, ironically, highly-ranked New Hampshire commits no state funds. Other criteria in the Lux Research rankings includes the status of state nanotech initiatives, number of companies active in nanotechnology, in-state nanotech patents, size of technology and science workforce, concentration of high-tech companies, and corporate taxation and regulatory burdens.
Healthier hospital H20
EAST HILLS, N.Y.-Pall Corp. (www.pall.com) has introduced its Aquasafe AQF1C water filter to the European healthcare market as a point-of-use preventative against microbial contamination of heat-sensitive medical devices as well as pathogens found in machines that dispense ice and water. The disposable filter, which is installed in the water supply line, contains a 0.2-μm bacterial retention membrane validated to produce contamination-free water. The CE-marked medical device for the European market is part of the company’s line of filters designed to protect patients from contaminated water, regardless of the route of transmission.
Sounds of sensors
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.-Magnetoresistance sensors from NVE Corp. (www.nve.com) are the tiny devices offering big sound for next-generation nanotech hearing aids built by Starkey Laboratories (Minneapolis, Minn.; www.starkey.com). The sensors are based on a chip that uses electron spin rather than charge to store information. By automatically switching modes, the sensor is designed to free hearing aid wearers from the current need to switch modes manually or with a bulky switch. One-third the size of the switch’s coil, the sensor is built from nanoscale layers of magnetic thin films that are only a few atomic layers thick. The companies claim the technology delivers smaller and higher-performing hearing aids.
Miracle MEMS in the making?
ANN ARBOR, Mich.-A MEMS-based implant, developed from a microelectromechanical system designed by University of Michigan Professor Karl Grosh, may hold the promise of an artificial device that will let the deaf hear without external electronics. The tiny device reportedly mimics the snail-shaped structure of the inner ear (cochlea), and the fully integrated implant has been fabricated with backside through-wafer etching using an inductively coupled plasma deep-reactive ion etch. While fabricated micromachined devices are not new, it is believed that the University of Michigan design differs from others by its use of a beam-array structure in a fully micromachined, liquid-filled, two-duct structure.
E. RUTHERFORD, N.J.-A U.S. semiconductor manufacturer, a leading European fab, and an Asian customer (all unannounced) are among the first companies to order a new electroless chemical monitoring system, developed by ECI Technology Inc. (www.ecitechnology.com). The QLC-8500 is an online monitoring system for electroless baths used in cobalt capping applications. Electroless processes use more chemical components than copper electroplating, and since the corresponding solutions are inherently unstable, effective chemical monitoring is critical to the success of electroless deposition. The online monitoring system reports detailed information on all key chemical components, including cobalt, copper, tungstate, palladium, reducing/complexing/buffering agents, pH adjuster, and background ions.
Direct drug delivery device
CARDIFF, Wales-A proprietary wafer nanotechnology process from Q Chip (www.q-chip.com) will be teamed with the medical device expertise of Biocompatibles International plc (Surrey, U.K.; www.biocompatibles.co.uk) to develop next-generation microspheres that could lead to a device that targets drug delivery to specific parts of the body. Q Chip’s precision particle engineering, combined with proprietary microfluidic technology, enables the manufacture of microparticles and nanoparticles for advanced manufacturing of pharmaceuticals as well for food processing and cosmetics. Biocompatibles International specializes in developing products for treatment of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and benign tumors. The Q Chip technology uses tiny capillaries etched in wafers to precisely create micro- and nanoparticles. When many wafers are used in tandem, Q Chip says its technology can create particles on a commercial scale and avoid waste associated with other production methods.