Nearfield Instruments

Nearfield Instruments is a spin-off company of the Netherlands Organisation for applied-scientific Research TNO, focused on the development of an ultrafast High-Throughput Atomic Force Microscopy (HT-AFM) system for metrology of advanced integrated circuits (IC’s).



Atomic scale dimensions

There’s a high demand for more powerful and lower power-consuming electronics for mobile devices and computer systems. To achieve new functionalities and to make optimum use of the available wafer space integrated circuit (IC) devices will shrink to atomic scale dimensions using novel, sensitive materials while at the same time being designed in a full three-dimensional configuration.

In order to accommodate these trends in a technologically and economically viable way breakthroughs in metrology processes and equipment for IC device development and manufacturing are required. Without it, Moore’s Law would come to an end. Moore's law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense IC doubles approximately every two years.

The patented revolutionary architecture is based on parallelizing AFM. The parallelization is achieved by miniaturizing the AFM and operating them simultaneously. Each miniaturized AFM can be operated independently, which allows one to measure several physical parameters simultaneously.

Atomic Force Microscopy up to 1000x faster

Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) is a well-known technology for imaging the smallest features and often applied in research. An AFM system uses an atomically-sharp probe to scan (but just not touch) the surface of the sample under investigation to sense the pattern on it. However, AFM was always considered too slow for industrial applications.

In 2012, TNO initiated the NOMI (Nano-Optomechatronics Instrumentation) program, in which scientific research is combined with application know-how, which has led to multiple improvements to this technology with the potential to make AFM up to 1000x faster than traditional AFM-technology. This makes Nearfield Instruments’ AFM-solution of prime interest for the semiconductor industry.
Investment since
September 4, 2017
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