Europe has long been the source for many technological innovations but many challenges need to be overcome so as to bridge the gap from research to industry, and from there to market. The growth industry of nanotechnology is no different. In particular, the development of new applications based on nanoimprinting techniques (NIL) is evolving at a rapid pace. This is where the NAPANIL ('Nanopatterning, production and applications based on nanoimprinting lithography') project comes in. The recent NAPANIL Industrial Day addressed these issues and found solutions. NAPANIL has received EUR 11.8 million under the 'Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies' (NMP) Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
The NAPANIL Industrial Day was the second such event focusing on the myriad issues impacting this area of research, and was hosted by the Germany-based group micro resist technology GmbH . People at the event explored the potentials, limitations and expected impact of nanoimprint lithography (NIL) on the market. This year it achieved a new record for participation, of which a large number came from the industry sector. Overall, 84 participants attended, 43% participants from industry and 57% from academia.
NIL is a high-throughput, high-resolution parallel patterning method for applications that ranges from patterned magnetic media to optical devices. A surface pattern of a stamp is replicated into a material, forming complex three-dimensional nanostructures to be formed in various materials.
In the course of the event it became apparent that it was successful in generating interest as well as being an effective platform for professionals in technology and industrial players to share their diverse, yet complementary perspectives. Indeed, the feedback received from attendees representing the industry sector has been positive. What stood out for them were the new collaborations that have been created as a result of the networking activities as well as the recognition that nanoimprint lithography was receiving, so much so that they hoped that the Industrial Day would be repeated in the future.
Experts and attendees also delivered a number of presentations and several posters on NAPANIL research lines. Several applications of nanoimprint lithography were presented, ranging from consumer goods to security tags to life science products.
Some of the speakers included Per Høvsgaard, senior director of the Mechatronics and Prototyping department of LEGO System A/S in Denmark, who presented toys with coloured surfaces, while Vito G. Lambertini from FIAT in Italy made a presentation on intelligent displays in the automotive sector. Nanopatterning is also being used to fight counterfeiting and this talk was presented by Lars Lindvold from Stensborg A/S in Denmark.
In addition to these and other talks, the challenges in the development of production tools and materials were also explored. Meanwhile, step and repeat, e-beam lithography, injection moulding and roll-to-roll developments were presented by several speakers, from companies such as EVG, Vistec Philips, and Nanoptics, which showcased their latest achievements.