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The University of Southampton

ELEC6206 Nanofabrication and Microscopy

Module Overview

This course consists of two parts: 'Nanofabrication' deals with the fabrication of structures that are smaller than 100 nm, while 'Microscopy' concerns the visualisation of such small features. Advanced optical lithography concepts are illustrated by a computer simulation lab with the industry-standard software "GenISys LAB". We start with a general overview of nanotechnology, explaining why the properties of materials are so different at the nanoscale compared to the microscale. The difference between top-down and bottom-up fabrication is explained and the ultimate industrial nanofabrication process (CMOS) is outlined, including the technological issues related to further scaling according to Moore's Law. After introducing general microscopy concepts such as magnification, resolution, depth of field and contrast, it is discussed how image formation is achieved in optical microscopy. Many of the principles of optical microscopy also apply to the next topic. Optical lithography is crucial for top-down nanofabrication (and CMOS scaling) because it defines the smallest feature size that can be fabricated. The historical development of optical lithography is presented, up to the present state-of-the-art and looking forward to future developments of this patterning technique. We then switch back to the microscopies: transmission electron microscopy and scanning electron microscopy enable visualisation of nanoscale structures but image formation, resolution, contrast mechanism and sample preparation are quite different. The images of MOSFET cross-sections will be explained. These particle beam techniques are also used in fabrication: e-beam writing is a serial lithography that enables ~10 nm patterns, while focused ion beam milling has numerous applications in nanofabrication. We finish the nanofabrication component with a brief description of bottom-up processes such as the chemical synthesis of carbon nanotubes, silicon nanowires and gold nanoparticles. This is put in the context of fabricating nanoelectronic devices by a mix of top-down and bottom-up fabrication processes. For example, carbon nanotubes can be grown in between micro-electrodes by patterning these with a catalyst material. Similar examples from the recent literature will be highlighted. The computer lab sessions involve simulations of photoresist exposure for different optical lithography techniques and explores various resolution enhancement methods that enable nanometer scale patterning in general and advanced CMOS scaling in particular. As part of the lab you will design your own photomask. The GenISys LAB lithography simulation software is used in commercial nanofabrication facilities and is only available for this module because of a special agreement with the company. Please note that ELEC6206 Nanofabrication and Microscopy (see the Notes directory for info slides) does not deal with fabrication techniques that are essentially the same as for microfabrication. Etching, deposition and process flow are explained in detail in ELEC6201 Microfabrication, and this module is a prerequisite for ELEC6206 Nanofabrication and Microscopy.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • A range of nanoscale fabrication and characterisation technologies
  • Lithography and microscopy resolution limits
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Appreciate the difference between micro- and nano-fabrication in the context of CMOS scaling
  • Explain image formation in a number of high-resolution microscopies
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use simulations to evaluate critical parameters for lithographic resolution
  • Demonstrate familiarity with industry-standard mask design and lithography simulation software
Disciplinary Specific Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify major issues and developments at the frontiers of nano-engineering


Nanofabrication - CMOS scaling - Optical nanolithographies - Charged beam nanolithographies - Directed self-assembly - Atomic layer deposition - Nanospheres, nanotubes and nanowires Nanocharacterisation - General microscopy concepts - Optical microscopy - Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) - Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) Lithography simulation lab - Proximity optical lithography - Projection optical lithography - Off-axis illumination - Mask design - Optical proximity correction - Resist contrast

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module uses lectures to present the material, computer lab sessions to illustrate some key concepts, and tutorials to prepare for the lab sessions and to give guidance on the coursework and examination assessments.

Follow-up work15
Completion of assessment task20
Supervised time in studio/workshop10
Wider reading or practice45
Preparation for scheduled sessions15
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Goodhew PJ, Humphreys FJ, Beanland R (2001). Electron Microscopy and Analysis. 

Waser R (2012). Nanoelectronics and Information Technology: Advanced Electronic Materials and Novel Devices. 

Huff H (2008). Into the Nano Era: Moore's Law Beyond Planar Silicon CMOS. 

Di Ventra M, Evoy S, Heflin JR (Eds.) (2004). Introduction to Nanoscale Science and Technology. 

Khanna VK (2012). Nanosensors: Physical, Chemical and Biological, Series. 

Franssila S, (2010). Introduction to Microfabrication. 

Cui Z (2008). Nanofabrication: Principles, Capabilities and Limits. 

Franssila S (2004). Introduction to Microfabrication. 

A laboratory manual will be provided. 

Lindsay SM, (2009). Introduction to Nanoscience. 

Comprehensive lecture notes will be provided. 


Assessment Strategy

The coursework will not be marked if the student has not attended the computer lab sessions.


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 30%
Examination  (2 hours) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: ELEC6201

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