The NanoMax Project is one of the three poles of TEMPOS, which is one of the winners of the national bidding process EquipEx 2010. NanoMax is an ultra-high resolution transmission electron microscope (TEM) the aim of which is to observe and characterise in situ, on an atomic scale, the growth of nanocrystals such as semiconductor nanowires and carbon nanotubes.
The great originality of NanoMax is to bring matter to the sample atom by atom. This achievement is obtained thanks to two kinds of sources of matter, adapted onto the specimen chamber:
molecular beam sources, which allow to perform in situ molecular beam epitaxy – MBE;
sources of gas radicals, which allow to perform assisted chemical vapour deposition – CVD – in situ.
These specificities are both unique.
NanoMax also allows one to perform in situ standard CVD and liquid precursor CVD. Moreover, a part of the project concerns analyses in microreactors, the latter allowing the observation of reactions in liquids or at elevated gaseous pressure.
The goal of NanoMax is the intimate understanding, at the atomic scale, of the mechanisms that govern the growth of nano-objects. This understanding is essential for mastering the fabrication of the nano-objects by monitoring their geometry, their crystalline structure, their chemical composition. Mastering their growth will allow in turn mastering their electronic or optical. What is at stake in the future, is to be able to produce those nano-objects, either on a large scale or for cutting edge applications with high technological content.
The studies, in which NanoMax is used, have as a goal indeed to discover and develop novel functional objects that will be used in macro-devices (field-effect cathodes for power emitters for instance or photovoltaic solar cells integrating nanomaterials) or else to develop nano-devices such as chemical or biological sensors, nano-transistors or nano-lasers. NanoMax possesses an articulation with the EquipEx Sense-City that aims at equipping the city of the future with a set of sensors of all types allowing one to monitor in real time a set of parameters that can include from visiting rates of characteristic sites to concrete aging [joint team NACRE between IFSTTAR (Civil and urban engineering) and LPICM].
The microscope is equipped with a field emission gun and a corrector of the spherical aberration of the objective lens (image corrector). It is a prototype, conceived by the partners in the project in collaboration with the FEI Company, based on a Titan 60-300 ETEM.
NanoMax is supported by École polytechnique and CNRS. École polytechnique has hired a research engineer (on March 1, 2013) in the framework of its support. NanoMax gathers several teams of École polytechnique (LPICM, LSI) but also other partners from Plateau de Saclay (LPN, IEF, CEA).