News

Exploring the nanoscale world

Are you curious about what happens in Micronova, the leading micro and nanotechnology research center of Finland? This fall we followed students getting hands on experience in the most common methods used in micro and nanotechnology on the Micronova Laboratory course.
Aalto University / students using a microscope in the Micronova cleanroom / photo: Linda Koskinen
The Micronova Laboratory course consists of five guided laboratory sessions. Photo: Linda Koskinen

Monday 14.10.2019

How does a solar cell work and what are the problems you need to take care of in order to get a solar cell work efficiently? This was the topic of the very first lab session of the Micronova Laboratory course. The students studied a wafer and a finished cell and were given the task to figure out what had caused the differences between the two. Hints for this puzzle were given on a cleanroom tour on which methods and equipment used in the process of making solar cells were presented.

Aalto University / Students watching a solar cell in the Micronova cleanroom / photo: Linda Koskinen
The topic of the first laboratory session was solar cells.
Aalto University / A solar cell / photo: Linda Koskinen
A finished solar cell.
Aalto University / wafers in the Micronova cleanroom / photo: Linda Koskinen
The students got a cleanroom tour on which methods and equipment used in the process of making solar cells were presented.

Monday 21.10.2019

“Now that's cool!" On the second lab session students were given an introduction to the scanning electron microscope. They got hands-on practice with the tool by imaging a sample of compound semiconductor nanowires. These crystalline structures typically have the length of some tens of micrometers – that's one millionth of a metre – so they are tiny! Due to their useful optical, electrical, and mechanical properties they have a vast range of applications in several fields including photovoltaics, optoelectronics, photonics, and electronics.

Aalto University / scanning electron microscope in the Micronova cleanroom / photo: Linda Koskinen
The students were given an introduction to the scanning electron microscope.
Aalto University / students using a scanning electron microscope / photo: Linda Koskinen
The reason behind the overalls is this: the technology developed in the Micronova cleanroom is so minuscule that even a single dust particle can break it – not to mention a single hair!

Friday 8.11.2019

The third lab session was about thermal conductivity. By engineering the thermal properties in nanomaterials used in modern micro- and nanoelectronics, it’s possible to achieve big improvements in power consumption and energy efficiency in, for example, mobile phones. The students familiarised themselves with the effects of nanostructuring on material thermal properties and got to use an optical pump-probe thermoreflectance setup.

Aalto University / Micronova Laboratory course session / photo: Linda Koskinen
The third lab session was about thermal conductivity.
Aalto University / an optical pump-probe thermoreflectance setup / photo: Linda Koskinen
The students got a chance to use an optical pump-probe thermoreflectance setup.

Thursday 21.11.2019

Photonics – the science of light – was the topic of the fourth lab session. The students got to try a method called ‘dry-transfer’: they obtained atomically thin flakes of a two-dimensional material called molybdenum disulfide and transferred a flake onto a silicon chip to make devices like transistors out of it. 2D layered materials have unique mechanical and optoelectronic properties that can be combined in a single device such as flexible displays.

Aalto University / students learning about dry-transfer / photo: Linda Koskinen
The students got to try a method called ‘dry-transfer’.
Aalto University / A Micronova laboratory course session / photo: Linda Koskinen
A thin flake of molybdenum disulfide was transferred onto a silicon chip.

Thursday 12.12.2019

A human hair is about 50 000 nanometers thick. But how can you determine the thickness of a 10–1000 nanometer thin film? On the last lab session students learned about X-ray reflectometry – an analytical technique for investigating thin-layered structures, surfaces and interfaces using the effect of total external reflection of X-rays. First, a hafnium oxide coating was grown on a silicon substrate thin film using atomic layer deposition. As the density difference of the thin film and the substrate causes interference in the low angle X-ray reflection, the students were able to determine the film’s thickness, density and roughness.

Aalto University / Students explaining X-ray reflectometry using pens / photo: Linda Koskinen
The students used pens to explain X-ray reflectometry.
Aalto University / A student on the Micronova Laboratory Course / photo: Linda Koskinen
Thin film’s thickness was determined using X-ray reflectometry.

Got interested?

The Micronova Laboratory course is part of the Master's Programme in Electronics and Nanotechnology.

Aalto electronics-ICT anechoic chamber for 2-60 GHz and two near-field scanners

Master's Programme in Electronics and Nanotechnology

The Master’s Programme in Electronics and Nanotechnology offers the opportunity for students to go into the details of future-shaping and globally significant technologies. We are surrounded by wireless technologies everywhere through the rise of mobile devices, space technology is skyrocketing in the form of small satellites, and nanotechnology is enabling major breakthroughs in fields like solar energy harvesting. This programme focuses strongly on researching and building hardware for these technologies, paving the way for a fluent shift towards a career in the industry or an academic postgraduate path.

Study options
  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Related news

Research & Art Published:

During the COVID-19 crisis, nearly half of Finnish SMEs have applied for public financing, while less than one sixth have applied for a bank loan

Researchers from Aalto University, Erasmus University (The Netherlands) and the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland) have studied Finnish SMEs' financing options and prospects in the covid-19 crisis.
Michael smiling in Dipoli building
University Published:

Get to know us: Assistant Professor Michael Hummel

Fascination for wood and Finland.
Kauppakorkeakoulun rakennus Ekonominaukio 1:ssä
Honoured Published:

Aalto led consortium GMeRitS awarded Blockchains for Social Good prize

The prize awarded by the Enhanced European Innovation Council EIC is worth a million euros and was granted for work on the social effectiveness of blockchain technology.
Sipi leaning towards the building for the School of Chemical Engineering
University Published:

Get to know us: Postdoctoral Researcher Sipi Seisko

Even a seahorse can be a lab partner.