By: Morten Møller
A part of the mandate of the international Marie Curie Training program is to promote networking and exchange of ideas between different establishments, in both academia and industry. Conveniently, I had the opportunity to work last month in a company called Zyvex Labs in Texas, USA. Zyvex Labs is a company which focuses on several different aspects of atomically precise (AP) manufacturing. Their two most interesting features for my research are their STM tip treatment methods, and their subsequent utilization of those tip to perform atomically precise lithography on hydrogen passivated silicon surfaces.
The experience was in short extremely satisfying. Not only were the people very likable, but we were also pampered with free coffee and snacks every day (and each Thursday free doughnuts). The only downside however was the extremely hot Texan desert sun, which is not compatible with the climate I am used to.
I gained a lot of knowledge that can be directly utilized by our research team. Not only did Zyvex teach me how to produce extremely sharp and well-defined STM tips, but I was also able to test their efficacy in performing AP lithography on hydrogen passivated surfaces and compare them with my own experiments. Their AP lithography technique has an extremely high fidelity, with the ability to create arbitrary patterns reliably and consistently, as demonstrated in the figure below.
Initially when I arrived at Zyvex, Joshua Ballard and James Owen had outlined several possible projects that I could pursue while I was there. In my opinion, I ended up carrying out the most important and relevant project for my research: optimizing their search algorithm for performing AP lithography. One thing I regret, and which hopefully will be rectified in a return visit to Zyvex, is that I would have liked to have seen more of their business aspects, such as testing equipment intended to be sold, which might prove useful later on in my profession.
In short, my trip to Zyvex was extremely rewarding, both professionally and generally and I would like to thank all the people working at Zyvex, as well as their president John Randall for allowing me the opportunity to work there.