The user meeting NNUM took off in Trondheim in 2017. In 2019, the meeting was held in Copenhagen, and in 2021 it was Gothenburg and Chalmers' turn to run the show. When the pandemic meant that the user meeting could not be arranged on site, the organizers chose to postpone the physical meeting to 2022.
Nearly 300 people from all over the Nordic region participated during the two days. In his role as head of Myfab, Thomas Swahn was the one responsible for arranging NNUM in 2022, and he is more than pleased with the outcome.
"The most important thing is to present the labs, and what we are capable of doing", says Thomas Swahn. "The meeting works as a good opportunity for interaction, where we learn from each other and can find synergies. 'Come here and test your ideas!'"
Four different tracks
During the two days, three major presentations were held on the theme of nanoresearch, including one on quantum computers held by Chalmers' Jonas Bylander. Otherwise NNUM was divided into four different thematic tracks with five presentations – tutorials – in each where basic as well as advanced techniques were presented. The meeting participants chose for themselves which track they wanted to attend. The four tracks followed the specializations in nanofabrication work that previously have been established within the Nordic network: characterization, thin film technology, etching and lithography.
"If you're lucky, there might be someone or some people who know the same thing as you, but often there's only one expert in a field. So we did these pretty broad focuses in the expert network", says Thomas Swahn. “All in all, it can be said that the different tracks constituted a smorgasbord of the advanced manufacturing capabilities on the micro and nano scale that the Nordic Nanolab Network offers to researchers and entrepreneurs.”
In addition to presentations and tutorials, a poster competition was organized where researchers had the opportunity to contribute with a research poster that presents results made possible by the researchers having open access to the opportunities offered by the laboratories. Mahdi Shanei, PhD student at the Department of Physics at Chalmers, was one of the three who were awarded a prize for their poster.
Optics and metasurfaces
"I think to have a good poster, we need to chose a single aspect of our research that we can explain fully in a small amount of text and graphics and focus on that alone", he says. "Obviously, passersby will look at the title first, so it is good to make it as interesting and informative as possible."
Mahdi Shanei's research is about optics and metasurfaces. Metasurfaces consist of carefully designed and interacting nanoparticles that can control light in unusual and innovative ways. Future time application areas can be cameras, microscopes, electronic displays and other technology that requires advanced optical components.
"In the presented poster, we investigate the design and fabrication of a compact and contact-less optical tweezer with the use of a metasurface. The introduced metasurface is able to trap and transport microparticles along a straight line in the far-field region. Our work comprises a first demonstration of transporting multiple particles over a wide area using a metasurface-based system", says Mahdi Shanei.
Mahdi Shanei emphasizes the great benefit of meeting other nanofabrication lab users and being able to discuss common research interests with them, and that the large number of participants and the variety of research projects provided opportunities to find projects similar to one's own and have fruitful discussions.
"Although there was an overlap between the thematic tutorial sessions, I found most of them very useful for Myfab users", he says.
About NNUM and Myfab
NNUM bring nanofabrication laboratories at higher education institutions in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland together. In addition this year, the University of Riga, was invited as a guest. From Sweden, the university nanofabrication labs that participate are part of the national research infrastructure Myfab: Chalmers, KTH, Lund and Uppsala.
Text and photos: Robert Karlsson