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Minnesota Nano Center at the University of Minnesota
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The Minnesota Nano Center (MNC) has over $20 million of equipment in place and operational for

With its new space in the Physics and Nanotechnology Building, the MNC offers expanded facilities for research in basic nanoscience and in applied nanotechnology. These facilities will support researchers working in the three main areas of nanotechnology today: small-scale devices, nano materials, and biomedical applications of nanotech.

Physics and Nanotechnology Building Clean Room

The centerpiece of MNC's space in the new Physics and Nanotechnology Building (PNB) is a 5,000 square foot Class 100 clean room. The PNB clean room is equipped with ultra-high resolution lithography tools, including a state-of-the-art electron beam lithography tool capable of fabricating sub-10 nm features. The new clean room offers a full suite of tools for thin film deposition, metallization, wet and dry etching, film annealing, oxidation, and doping. It also offers a range of characterization tools including two scanning electron microscopes, an atomic force microscope, surface profilers, and a confocal microscope.

Physics and Nanotechnology Building Labs

In addition to the new clean room, the Physics and Nanotechnology Building features two other new labs dedicated to supporting research in bio-nanotechnology and nanomaterials.

Nanomaterials Lab

The new Nanomaterials Lab will allow researchers to make, modify, and analyze nanomaterials in a central core laboratory. The lab will be an open facility to support research that involves small-scale materials, including nanoparticles and micron-scale powders. The Nanomaterials Lab is located directly opposite the new clean room in the Physics and Nanotechnology building allowing researchers to more easily combine work with nanoparticles and nanoscale devices.

Bio-Nano Lab

Also next to the new clean room is the Bio-Nano Lab that offers facilities and equipment for cell culturing, DNA and protein analysis, fluorescence microscopy, and multiwavelength analysis of cells. Researchers can also use the adjoining Nanomaterials Lab to synthesize nanoparticles, modify their surfaces, and affix them to cells for diagnostic labeling or to investigate therapies. The Bio-Nano Lab is intended to encourage interdisciplinary research and discovery between nanotechnology and the biosciences, and will complement other bioscience resources available at the University.

Keller Hall Clean Room

The new clean room and labs complement the existing clean room in Keller Hall (formerly the Nanofabrication Center or NFC), which will remain open for business. The Keller facility consists of a 3,000-square-foot Class 100 clean room, and an additional 4,000 square feet of labs and support areas. The Keller clean room has a tool set that enables the fabrication of devices with features sizes as small as one micrometer (1000 nanometers). This tool set is well suited to the fabrication of MEMS, microfluidic devices, and other structures that do not require nanometer-scale resolution.

The MNC is designed to be an open facility available to a wide range of users, including external academic and industrial researchers. Once users have completed a basic lab safety training course and are approved to operate individual tools, they may access the MNC facilities 24 hours a day, seven days a week, subject to any periodic closures of our host buildings.

The Services We Offer

The MNC can fabricate structures and devices with features as small as 10 nm. We use several techniques to produce these micro- and nanoscale structures, including optical, electron beam, and nanoimprint lithography. To support our lithographic fabrication work, the MNC offers the following services.

Optical mask making

Optical lithography starts with a two-dimensional pattern design for each layer of the three dimensional structure. The MNC will work with you to develop your mask design, then make a mask on 5" glass blanks. (The MNC is one of the few facilities available for custom optical mask making).

Thin film deposition

Films of a wide variety of materials -- metals, semiconductors, and dielectrics -- can be deposited to precise thicknesses. Film deposition is typically performed on four inch silicon wafer substrates. Larger wafers (6 inch diameter) and other substrates (glass, Pyrex, quartz) can be processed in some coating tools. Film thickness can be varied from about 10 to 1000 nm.

The MNC can currently deposit

Other materials can be deposited. Check with us about your proposed project.

Thermal treatments

Previously deposited films can be modified with our thermal treatments, which include annealing, oxidation, and doping.

Optical lithography

The MNC has several optical exposure systems that can be used to transfer the 2-D pattern on a photomask to one or more substrates. Features as small as 400 nm can be transferred using optical methods.

Nanoimprint lithography

Nanoimprint lithography uses a mold to transfer a pattern on a resist-coated substrate in a stamping process. Our nanoimprinter can produce patterns with features as small as 100 nm.

Electron Beam lithography

To achieve sub-100 nm feature sizes, electron beam lithography is used, in which a tightly focused beam of energetic electrons is used to write patterns on a resist-coated substrate. Our state-of-the-art electron beam system has been used to write 6 nm lines with good uniformity.


After a substrate has been patterned using lithography, it is etched to remove unwanted material. The MNC has a full complement of wet etching chemistries and a number of dry (plasma) etching tools.


For the convenience of its clients, the MNC maintains several characterizations tools located either inside the cleanroom or in adjacent labs. These characterization tools allow the user to:

Our Locations

The Keller clean room of the MNC is housed in Keller Hall (the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science building). The PNB clean room is located in the Physics and Nanotechnology building, which lies directly northwest of Keller Hall. Both buildings are located near the intersection of Beacon and Union Streets SE on the East Bank Campus of the University of Minnesota. The closest parking for either facility is the Washington Avenue Ramp.

The History and Mission of the Minnesota Nano Center

In 1990 the University opened the Microelectronics Technology Lab, an upgrade and consolidation of its facilities for the expanding field of microlithography. The opening of the lab was supported by several Minnesota-based technology firms prominent at the time, including Control Data, Cray Research, Fluoroware Systems Inc., and Honeywell. The initial focus of the lab was on integrated circuits and related microelectronics. Over time, the lab acquired equipment and capabilities that broadened its mission to include microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), micro-optics, and nanomaterials. The facility was renamed the Nanofabrication Center to reflect its broader mission.

On July 1 of 2013, the Nanofabrication Center was expanded with the addition of substantial new laboratory space and a new larger clean room. This new entity is now the Minnesota Nano Center, and functions as the center of nanotechnology-related work at the University of Minnesota.

The MNC will enable interdisciplinary research that links the University's massive investment in the physical and life sciences, medicine, and engineering fields. Our mission is to support the fabrication, synthesis, and characterization of nanoscale devices and materials for both academic and industrial users. We do this by maintaining state-of-the-art facilities for nanofabrication and interdisciplinary nanoscience research, and by providing hands-on training in nanotechnology processes to all qualified users.

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News & Announcements

Thursday, November 17, 2016
MnDRIVE Seminar Presentation
Yoel Fink
Realizing a Moore's Law for Fibers

International Corporation

New Probe Station
In August MNC installed a new probe station generously donated by EverBeing International Corporation headquartered in Taiwan. This new probe station will greatly enhance our capabilities in DC and low frequency electrical characterization, and will be located in Area 3 (1-132) in Keller Hall.

September 16, 2015
NSF NNCI Program
The MNC has been selected for participation in the NSF NNCI program. More information is available on the NSF website.

Inside the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Nano Center: Take a look inside the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Nano Center, a state of the art facility dedicated to the design, fabrication and testing of small-scale devices. Video produced by the Office of Business Relations, with assistance from the College of Science & Engineering.

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