Advanced control and dynamic principles

For any nanomanufacturing and nanometrology instruments, higher speed vs higher accuracy is the typical tradeoff at the design phase. However, industrial demands require both specifications to be elevated beyond the current limits. This, in turn, brings a lot of challenges that can only be achieved with better control and dynamics design to utilize the maximum performance the instrument can offer.

A very fast and very accurate instrument design complying these strict  specifications sometimes turn out to be infeasible. Thus, an alternative is “do more per unit operation” for the task at hand. As an example, we would like to inspect an item with nanoprecision at certain spots. The common way of doing this is to do very fast and accurate scans with the same instrument. However, if we can increase the number of inspectors, we immediately get a few fold shorter unit operation completion time.

The challenge of this concept is having many instrument at the prescribed positions tailored for the sample then for the next sample the locations might change and we wish the instruments to change their formation. Another immediate advantage is that different number of instruments can be utilized. Moreover each instrument can perform different subtasks. To achieve such accuracy, we are investigating the multi-agent formation framework such that the coarse positioning of such agents can be virtually decoupled from the environment.

Therefore, this concept can pave the way for substantial added value in nanoinstrument systems.

Competitive advantage

Control applications are diverse and the design can favor different aspects of the same task. It can be a task execution time for some task and low-batch but ultra-precision for another. For the main focus of this technology, we would like to prove the concept of increasing throughput of high-precision tasks by delegating to many agents such that the completion time has shortened substantially. Per agent, it might still be the same execution time however when they perform together, it is practically a matter of how many agents that can be utilized simultaneously to reach the throughput levels that are considered to be impossible by the industry.

Application areas (use cases)

Atomic force microscopy (AFM), wafer inspection for lithography, meta-instrumentation, surface testing for materials and so on.

Target specifications

If we can conclude our pre-feasibility studies positively, the plan is to use AFM concept as the demonstration testbed. For the testbed the target specs are at least three agents weighing in order of 100 grams roaming inside a disk of 25 cm radius, positioning themselves within a window of 10 micrometers precision in both axes.

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