Nanotechnology – or engineering on a molecular scale – has the capacity to transform many sectors of our economy, including manufacturing, healthcare, electronics, communications and energy.
The term ‘fabrication’ refers to the production of advanced materials, including nano-materials, with unique functional capabilities. Advanced materials and devices made from them are fundamentally important to all modern technologies such as those in the aerospace, automotive and biomedical industries. One of the hallmarks of advanced materials – whether they be polymeric, metallic or organic – is the rational design and controllable processing of their building blocks. Increasingly, the building blocks for advanced materials with novel or improved properties are found in the nanosized range. Nanoscale building blocks such as nanoparticles, nanotubes and nanofibres often hold the key to materials’ properties and performance.
Through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) the Australian Government has committed $41 million over five years to establish the Australian National Fabrication Facility Limited (ANFF), a comprehensive source of equipment and expertise to service the nation’s fast emerging nanotechnology industry. The funding has been augmented significantly with co-investments from several state governments, the CSIRO and a number of universities and industry partners. The NCRIS investment builds on existing infrastructure and instrumentation worth approximately $130 million and provides new fabrication equipment and clean-room environments vital to the advancement of nanoscience research.
We will be able to provide the resources to allow micro- and nano-fabrication researchers from all around Australia to work together for the first time, sharing expertise and laboratory resources to develop new technologies with high commercial impact for the benefit of all Australians. As nano-fabrication involves manufacturing on scales approaching a billionth of a metre, the investment in an advanced new fabrication tool set is vital. Nanostructures have technologically important new properties in areas as diverse as electronics, information technology, medical devices and advanced coatings such as sunscreens.
Professor Andrew Dzurak, New South Wales Node Director, Australian National Fabrication Facility
The Australian National Fabrication Facility
The ANFF is headquartered in Melbourne and comprises seven integrated nodes around Australia. Each offers specialist fabrication services, including rapid prototyping of nano- and micro-devices. The ANFF supports the work of around 125 research groups nationwide and provides vital R&D services to industry. The seven ANFF centres of expertise, or nodes, are described below.
The Victorian node and ANFF headquarters is currently based in Monash University but will soon be housed in the new Melbourne Centre for Nanotechnology (MCN), which is due to open in 2010. The MCN is a joint venture between the Victorian Government, five Melbourne-based universities, CSIRO and Minifab – a leading polymer micro-fabrication company. The MCN will be a state-of-the-art facility and offer a wide range of services required for fabricating sensors, devices and integrated systems.
The ACT node at the Australian National University offers services for the micro/ nanofabrication of photonic and related devices. In addition, access to the specialised micro-electromechanical systems expertise of the University of Western Australia is available through this node.
The Queensland node, through the University of Queensland, offers comprehensive processing capabilities for nano-bio and soft materials such as polymers, which are used in a wide range of industries from food processing to pharmaceuticals.
ANFF has three nodes in New South Wales. The University of New South Wales offers electron beam lithography and other services for nano-electronics research, including semiconductor device fabrication.
The Macquarie University/Australian Technology Park partnership specialises in the microprocessing of optical materials such as silica, silicon, lithium niobate and polymers. The partnership consolidates activities at Macquarie University, the Optical Fibre Technology Centre and the National Bandwidth Foundry to make available specialist services in laser machining, specialty optical fibre fabrication, lithium niobate fabrication and direct-write photolithography.
The Universities of Wollongong and Newcastle have joined to form the Materials node, the third NSW node. It offers services relating to the fabrication of novel polymer and ceramic nano-materials, and organic electronic nano-devices.
The South Australian node, based at the University of South Australia, offers nano-scale patterning and micro-fluidic device fabrication.
In May 2009, the Australian Government committed a further $50 million through the Super Science Initiative to enhance and extend micro- and nano- fabrication infrastructure through the Super Science Future Industries initiative. Since receiving this boost in funding, the nodes have worked as part of a consultative process to identify capability gaps and prioritise infrastructure requirements. The final proposed national capability will ensure that Australia will be at the forefront of international nanotechnological research and be a catalyst to the growth of the nanotechnology industry within Australia.
For enquiries about the Australian National Fabrication Facility, please contact:
Ms Rosie Hicks
Chief Executive Officer
Australian National Fabrication Facility Limited
Room 269, Building 75
Monash University, Wellington Road
CLAYTON VIC 3800
For matters related to management of the NCRIS program, please contact the NCRIS Team by email or by telephone on 02 6276 1245.
For further information, please see the homepage of Australian National Fabrication Facility Limited at http://www.anff.org.au/