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/Job opportunities/Understanding Sliding Contacts at the Nanoscale Using Scalpel-SPM

Understanding Sliding Contacts at the Nanoscale Using Scalpel-SPM

Master projects/internships - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Explore microscopy on the nanometer scale

The recent development of scalpel-Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) has paved a path towards three-dimensional (3D) tomography for obtaining relevant (piezo-)electrical insight at nanoscale in 3 dimensions. This approach is a key enabler for probing novel 3D devices such as FinFETs and Nanowires. The basic principle of scalpel-SPM lies in the nanoscale tip-induced physical removal of the material where the rate of removal is controlled by the applied force on the cantilever. Other parameters that can potentially affect the quality of scanned surface for a tip-sample pair are tip geometry, crystallographic orientation, process conditions, experimental environment etc. Understanding their impact becomes crucial for the future development and implementation of this scalpel technique. In this project we will conduct both experimental and theoretical studies to fundamentally understand the wear mechanisms governing the material erosion at the nanoscale sliding contacts for various experimental conditions.

During the internship or thesis, the student will independently design and perform dedicated experiments. In parallel, some simulations will be run to correlate the SPM measurements with theoretical models. Consequently, the student will both be trained in AFM and simulation software, and will be taught to critically analyze, interpret and correlate data. Furthermore, the student will be a part of a multidisciplinary R&D team and will be guided by experts in the field.  Some basic understanding of material physics is a plus, but a proactive can-do attitude is even more important. A good command in English is required. At the end of this internship or thesis, the student will leave with knowledge on, material physics and skills on the characterization of state-of-the-art devices combined with an immersion into the high-tech research environment of imec.

Type of Project: Internship, thesis, combined internship/master thesis

Duration: 6 months

Master Program: Electrotechnics/Electrical Engineering, Physics, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Engineering

Supervising scientists: For more information on the project or for sending in your application contact Komal Pandey ( and Kristof Paredis (
KU Leuven supervisor: Wilfried Vandervorst

Imec allowance will be provided