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Learning objectives

The aim of the lecture "Nanotechnology" is to give you an insight into the "concepts", materials, structures, applications, market, opportunities, swiss industries…. and risks of nanotechnology. You should get to know some experimental processes that are important for nanotechnology. Through the lecture, you should be able to form your own opinion on the opportunities and risks of nanotechnology and discuss about it.

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What is nano?

Nano (Latin nános), meaning "dwarf“ 1 nm → 10^-9 m

1 nm is to an orange what an orange is to the Earth

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Nanotechnology: some definitions

The American Heritage dictionary: The science and technology of nanoscale devices and materials, such as electronic circuits, constructed using single atoms and molecules. 

NASA: By definition, nanotechnology, or “nano”: is the creation of functional materials, devices, and systems through control and manipulation of matter on the nanometer length scale (1-100 nanometers). For the sake of comparison, an ordinary sheet of paper is 100,000 nanometers thick. At this scale, engineers have the ability to exploit novel phenomena and material properties, be they physical, chemical, biological, mechanical, or electrical.

Wikipedia: is the use of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale for industrial purposes. The earliest, widespread description of nanotechnology referred to the particular technological goal of precisely manipulating atoms and molecules for fabrication of macroscale products, also now referred to as molecular nanotechnology. A more generalized description of nanotechnology was subsequently established by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which defined nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. This definition reflects the fact that quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale, and so the definition shifted from a particular technological goal to a research category inclusive of all types of research and technologies that deal with the special properties of matter which occur below the given size threshold.

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The birth of nanotechnology:

1959: Richard Feynman “There is plenty of room at the bottom”

1974: Norio Taniguchi Invents the term “nanotechnology” It mainly consists of the processing of, separation, consolidation, and deformation of materials by one atom or one molecule.

80s: Kim Eric Drexler Promoted the technological importance of nanoscale phenomena and devices Book: Engines of Creation: The coming Era of Nanotechnology

1982: Invention of the STM --> G. Binnig & H. Rohrer Nobel Prize 1986

1985: Discovery of fullerenes --> Smalley, Curl & Croto

1991: Discovery of carbon nanotubes --> S. Ijima

1997: First electronic molecular switch --> M Reed & J. M. Tour


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What nature teaches us: biomimetics

Lotus effect:The leaves of the lotus flower are superhydrophobic due to the micro and nanostructures of their leaves.

- Self cleaning: applications in textiles, self-cleaning glasses, protection of electronic equipment, roof tiles, exterior paints…

Impressive adhesion to any kind of surface thanks to their branched hairs (“setae”) that can turn stickness on and off

- Reversible adhesives, dynamic climbing in any kind of wall

- Colors change depending on the angle at which you look at the surface (so called iridescence)

 Different thicknesses, soap bubbles, can create iridescence. Nano and micro features, as in the blue Morpho butterfly, also cause iridescence.


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But not only in nature… in history also

- Colorful nanoparticles 

The key of Damascus sabres: Sabres from Damascus, made out of wootz have a microstructure of nm‐ sized tubes. The legendary Damascus sabres that Muslims used during the European warriors in the Cursades became famous: strong, flexible and incredibly sharp… Unluckily, the recipe for making them was lost in the XVIII century

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Industrial Applications: Superhydrophobic surfaces

Superhydrophobic surfaces are demanded form different markets

▶ food packaging ▶ painting ▶ architecture ▶ aircrafts

Requirements: 1. Large intrisic CA (hydrophobic material) 2. Hierarchical structure 

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Industrialization approach: R2R Hot embossing technique

Polymer nanostructuring Heating and cooling an dstructure sizes represents limitation Thermal nanoimprint lithography with arrays dimension down to 50nm

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What about superhydrophilic surfaces??

2021 no industrial solution to my knowledge…although lots of researches Oil / Water separation, Antifogging, Waste water treatment, Biomedical applications

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Industrial Need Applications 1

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Industrial Need and Applications 2

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Industrial Applications: Defence

 US military reveals 'gecko gloves' that let soldiers scale vertical walls Silicone material moulded into microscopic slanted wedges grip glass, metal, wood and plastic in a similar way to gecko’s feet This allowed researcher Elliot Hawkes, a biomimetics student at Stanford, who weighs 11 stone, to climb a 3.5 metre tall vertical glass wall.

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Industrial applications of Iridescence

Structural color in butterflies: 

Nanostructures can result in structural color light scattering Security features…or chocolate 

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Counterfaiting documents & banknotes


▶ Extremely difficult to counterfeit or simulate ▶ Prominent and attractive appearance, easily catching attention ▶ Next level of banknote design integration by working with print colors and print motifs ▶ Easy to check for the untrained public ▶ Opens up new design possibilities ▶ Particularly suitable for window features ▶ Large palette of color options

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Industrial applications: Watch industry dials and glasses

Some dials from company Blösch (Grenchen)

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Nanotechnolgy applications: Watch industry decorative dials

Some products from company Blösch (Grenchen) Nanotechnolgy applications: Watch industry decorative dials AR SINI bleuté sur géométrie cylindrique Plume Richard Mille avec un mouvement horloger pour sortir la pointe RM S05 Richard Mille, 98’000 CHF pièce

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Nanotechnolgy applications: Watch industry decorative dials

Watch with integrated compass from Richard Mille ITO + AR coating minimum perturbation

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Nanotechnology in Medtech

Exigences de l’optique finale Autoclavable (132°C pour 10-15 Minutes) Etanchéité 4K caméra image sans reflets Résistance mécanique et chimique

Da Vinci Robot

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Industrial applications: Porous nanomaterials, MOFs for water harvesting

MOF water harvester will serve as an instrument to make water a human right available to everyone


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Industrial application: Porous nanomaterials, MOFs for CO2 capture

Swiss company https://climeworks.com/ MOFs are very promising materials MOF Shaping is a very actual challenge

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ndustrial applications; Tribological coatings in cutting tools 

▶ Established and mature technology worldwide ▶ Tribology ▶ Revêtements TiN, TiAlN, AlCrN, DLC hard and wear resistant

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Applied Research at BFH - ALPS

For applications in the field of cutting tools (Microoutils, lead-free brass machining) or watchmaking industry (small surface contacts) there is a need to develop new solutions in order to improve the lifetime and tribological performances of the components. First promising results from a collaboration between the (Berner Fachhochschule) BFH and the (Haute Ecole ARC) HE-ARC, have been obtained on nanotextured carbon thin films by high power pulsed laser.

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Hybrid approach

Step 1: PVD coating with graphite target 500- 1000nm thin film Step 2: Fast Pulsed laser nanotexturing of the coating (100kHz)

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Laser Pulsed Graphite Coating (500nm) on Steel

High power density High pulsing rate (>100kHz) No ablation regime Laser pulses on graphite coating generates nanotexturation with 100nm high pillars…and microchannels in between After Pin‐on‐Disc test with following conditions: 100m with 100Cr6 6mm ball, 2N, v=3,5cm/s …no visible debris and only little wear

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Industrial appliations in our home windows

Glass production EUROFLOAT and EUROWHITE

Glass coating SILVERSTAR thermal insulation and solar protection coatings, special coatings

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Coatings on Glass @ Glas Trösch

Versatile large area coating deposition techniques PVD, CVD, wet chemistry Six vacuum coating plants in EU and CH Production speed: 2 ‐ 12m/min Annual throughput: 12 x 106m2 / year 

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Low-E coating on PET for smart agriculture When nano meets tomatoes…

Optical issues Mechanical issues Chemical issues

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A last example of application inside our pocket

iPhone 12: processor A14 Bionic