Nanosurf: Pioneers in the AFM Technology Landscape

Nanosurf: Pioneers in the AFM Technology Landscape

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Dr. Urs Matter, CEO , NanosurfDr. Urs Matter, CEO
The ongoing miniaturization and the increasing desire to understand every process and property in more detail—ideally down to the molecular level—is driving the race for better 3D imaging and measurement instruments. The high-tech industry is on a lookout for comprehensive measurement solutions that can measure properties down to nanometer and picogram. That is where Nanosurf comes in, continually developing new solutions to serve customer needs better. For example, the company works for suppliers in the EUV (extreme ultraviolet) field, allowing the semiconductor industry to reduce its feature size down to 1nm in the next few years. Such components need instruments that can measure roughness or critical feature size in the nm or subnm range. Some samples are as large as several tens of cm and weigh more than 50 kg. “We build comprehensive test equipment which include fully automatic measurements in a clean room. Such precision requirements need outstanding engineering teams combined with highly stable and robust AFM technology,” says Dr. Urs Matter, the CEO at Nanosurf.

Most of Nanosurf’s customers in academia or industry have a problem to solve. They want to measure properties of small features including dimensions, roughness, stiffness, electrical or magnetic properties. Further, they would like to measure such properties in liquid or under changing temperatures. In context, not everything is possible or makes sense. Nanosurf puts the highest priority to find and nurture Ph.D. level sales and service people who can effectively consult with their customers to get the best possible measurement system to solve their problem.

Nanosurf strives for market leadership for selected markets and applications.


We build comprehensive test equipment which include fully automatic measurements in a clean room

After 23 years of company history, they are market leaders in analyzing large and heavy samples with AFM, compact AFM and STM, and AFM applications with the so called FluidFM technology. The latter involves hollow cantilevers for manipulation and measurement in single-cell biology. Nanosurf strives to innovate faster for unique solutions to become a market leader in selected applications. Whereas the majority of AFMs are based on sample scanners where the sample is moved, Nanosurf has focused on the tip scanner where the sample is fixed, but the tip is moving. This is a huge benefit to measure heavy samples, but it is also a significant benefit to measure biological samples that are often measured in liquid. Further, tip scanners can much easier be combined with accessories, as for example, an electrochemical cell or a variable magnetic field generator. In an instance, for one of their EUV equipment manufacturers, Nanosurf has built a fully automated measurement stage that includes AFM measurements on a large, curved sample. “We had to build a multiple axis system allowing to approach every point on the surface to measure roughness and critical dimensions at a noise level below 40pm,” mentions Matter. To allow for automated measurements, Nanosurf provided an automatic cantilever exchange system as well.

In the last three years, Nanosurf has doubled its sales volume and is undoubtedly one of the fastest-growing scientific instruments companies. “We want to continue this growth by providing more instruments and more solutions in the market,” states Matter. Going forward, two areas will be very important for Nanosurf. One, the industrial quality control for roughness, critical dimensions, or electrical measurements. And two, the application of AFM in the bio- and life science application. The company will launch a new AFM platform before the end of the year with unique features. One of these features is beyond imaging and allows to measure and monitor the total mass of single cells or small tissues with picogram resolution in less than one millisecond. This breakthrough technology was developed together with the ETH in Zurich and will allow cells and tissue characterization in a new dimension.

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Top 10 Advanced Material Solution Companies - 2020
Nanosurf

Company
Nanosurf

Headquarters
Liestal, Switzerland

Management
Dr. Urs Matter, CEO

Description
Nosurf was founded in 1997 in Liestal, Switzerland, and has since become one of the most trusted and established AFM brands in the market today. Nanosurf strives for market leadership for selected markets and applications. After 23 years of company history, they are market leaders in analyzing large and heavy samples with AFM, compact AFM and STM, and AFM applications with the so-called FluidFM technology. The latter involves hollow cantilevers for manipulation and measurement in single-cell biology. Nanosurf strives to innovate faster for unique solutions to become a market leader in selected applications. Whereas the majority of AFMs are based on sample scanners where the sample is moved, Nanosurf has focused on the tip scanner where the sample is fixed, but the tip is moving