Competences EMFT

Fraunhofer Nanotechnology Alliance

 Sensor materials - Construction of functional molecules

Fraunhofer EMFT possesses excellent competences in specific synthesis of indicator dies, handling of polymer systems and creation of functional polymers and surfaces by chemical modifications. The knowhow in these areas serves as basis for sensor materials, which can be utilized in numerous applications. Such sensor materials show the presence of analyte molecules by change in color or fluorescence. The materials are based on indicator dies, made up for the application in question through integration in polymers, foils, structured surfaces as well as micro- or nanoparticles. This enables the use of sensor particles as nanosensors for analytics in cells. They can also be applied to surfaces via coating or printing techniques.

3D integration technologies

Fluorescent Nanosensors. © Fraunhofer EMFT
Foto: Fluorescent Nanosensors. © Fraunhofer EMFT
Nano-size sensor systems are considered a promising approach to new and improved functionalities in various products - for example in the medical and communication technologies. The wiring connecting the single components to each other has proven to be the limiting factor concerning performance, multifunctionality and reliability. The scientists at Fraunhofer EMFT are using 3D integration technologies for producing highly integrated, miniaturized nanosensor systems: suitable 3D stacking techniques and low temperature bonding processes are deployed for mechanical and electrical integration of sensor and logic components into a robust overall system. Due to the special low temperature technologies used in the process, also innovative nanocomponents can be reliably integrated. Nanosensors are extremely sensitive to mechanical and thermal stress, so that most standard processes are stretched to their limits here.

Surface modification and nanostructuring

The scientists at Fraunhofer EMFT are developing novel procedures for surface modification and nanostructuring: they utilize physical or chemical processes for creating marginalized surface layers with specific characteristics, only a few nanometers thick. The local wetting characteristics of a surface can be influenced by processes such as plasma treatment or stamp techniques, e.g. "micro contact printing" or "nanoimprint lithography (NIL). This causes a drop of fluid to stick to certain areas of the processed surface, and to drip off on others. A surface processed like this can be used e.g. in laboratory analytics, causing substances like DNA molecules or proteins to position themselves autonomously on an analysis platform. Furthermore, a liquid can be used as "transport medium" for electronic components, for example also for integrating single components into a miniaturized sensor system. Here the object swims on a droplet of water, automatically moves to a predefined position (self-assembly) due to the surface wetting characteristics, and subsequently autonomously arranges itself there (self-alignment).

Self-assembly of silicon components.  © Fraunhofer EMFT
Foto: Self-assembly of silicon components. © Fraunhofer EMFT

A combination of imprinting, embossing, and evaporation techniques on foils make 3-dimensional structures below µm-range possible. Together with functional coatings these can then be constructed to various components.

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