No annual report


Proposal ID 2015-096
Submitted April 22, 2015
Owner khbeis
Department College of Engineering
Category Machinery & Research
Funding Status Not Funded
Metric Score 4.19


  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Dr. Michael Khbeis
  • Associate Director
  • 206-543-5101
  • Box 352143
  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Sharon Li
  • Operations Manager
  • 206-685-1701
  • Box 352143
  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Dr, Michael Bragg
  • Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering
  • 206-543-1829
  • Box 352180



The Washington Nanofabrication Facility (WNF), a shared user facility on campus, proposes the acquisition of a Keyence VK-X100 series 3D Laser Scanning Microscope including a Laser Scanning Microscope Measuring Unit and a proprietary data analysis software package. This tool fills a crucial gap for imaging of microscopic structures. Conventional optical microscopes are easy to use and easily accessible for students in our facility, but their resolution is limited by the wavelength of light; moreover, the depth of focus is very small, such that an observer can only see a slice of the specimen and not its 3D shape. Scanning electron microscopes (SEM), on the other hand, are capable of creating very high magnification images, but require extensive training and substantial operating costs, making them less accessible to our student population. The proposed tool is capable to create detailed 3D images of specimens at lateral resolutions below 10 nm and vertical resolutions in the 5 nm range with detailed height mapping data that cannot be obtained through conventional microscopy or SEM. This capability is valuable for inspecting various structures and devices that are developed, fabricated, and tested at UW. The system will be installed outside of the cleanroom facility at the WNF, which has 7 full-time technical staff who train and assist users and maintain instruments. The WNF has a web-based equipment reservation and logging system that will be used to administer the Keyence Laser Scanning Microscope for ease of access and scheduling.

Category Justification

This instrument falls under the "Machinery and Research" category. It is designed to support scientific research in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), nanofabrication, and material and molecular engineering and sciences. This instrument will advance student scholarship and enhance university and departmental stature. Its unique imaging capabilities will also be valuable to generate appealing 3D images of micro and nanosystems developed at UW, and therefore help in broader educational and outreach efforts. Furthermore, it will accelerate access to critical data in a timely manner without a substantial training and access overhead of other types of instruments. This will improve research cycle efficiency and produce high quality images for grant proposals and publications.


The Washington Nanofabrication Facility houses the central, openly accessible cleanroom on the UW campus. It provides some of the most sophisticated fabrication equipment in the region and has a large base of university and industrial researcher that collaborate in advanced research and commercialization efforts. Since 2011, WNF has been managed as a cost recharge center under the College of Engineering. During this time, user activity (measured in cost center revenue) has more than tripled. WNF coordinates its efforts closely with MAF, the Molecular Analysis Facility located in the MolES building. WNF and MAF together form one of the 15 nodes in the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network supported by the National Science Foundation. In this short period, the WNF has been instrumental in supporting the research of 266 graduate students from various backgrounds including Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, and the School of Medicine. The WNF has an exemplary record and is continuing to grow undergraduate research initiatives with over 15 undergraduate researchers working in the lab on an annual basis.

Benefits to Students and the University

Records shows that 426 users, including 266 students, have taken advantage of the unique capabilities at the WNF over the past 4 years. Use and revenue has grown by over 300% in this short period. We anticipate our user base, especially outside companies and UW spin-outs, to continue to grow, but want to ensure that we keep our focus on the academic mission of the university. Our industrial clients are constantly looking to hire knowledgable and well-trained candidates. To this end, the WNF started hiring undergraduate researchers and Undergraduate Research Program (URP) candidates to work and conduct applied research in the facility. We seek out freshman and sophomore candidates and provide them a multi-year mentorship program that introduces them to nano and microfabrication technologies and the semiconductor, sensors, and consumer electronics industries. Students engage on real-world projects and joint collaborations with semiconductor companies including equipment and chemical suppliers, national labs, consumer electronic, aerospace, and biomedical device projects. This invaluable research experience ensures that UW undergraduates are in high demand when they graduate. In fact, all of our graduates have gone on to high paying jobs in aerospace and semiconductor industry. We have been doubling the number of undergraduates annually. While the doubling growth rate is not sustainable for the long-term, the WNF will have 20 undergraduate researchers employed and conducting collaborative research in 2015. Other students gain access through training with staff or by attending one of several classes taught in the WNF. These include EE 527, EE 527-PMP, EE 502, BIOEN 455, and BIOEN 599 / PHYS 576. In addition, the WNF regularly mentor and collaborate directly with the graduate students using the lab for their research efforts.

The proposed laser confocal microscope is very versatile and would be a great benefit to all users of the WNF facility. Furthermore, it will open the WNF up to new students and researchers on campus. The use of this instrument at other facilities has resulted in the discovery of artifacts that escaped detection using optical microscopy and SEM and profilemetery. It is in the unique combination of laser scanning and confocal microscopy that Is reconstructed to form a 3D model in color that has led to the visualization of previously undetected artifacts. The system and user interface is highly intuitive - basically setting expected scan topography and number of slices and pressing start. Since STF funding would be used there would be no cost recovery fees for using or accessing this instrument.

Departmental Endorsements

WNF is a shared access facility that serves all of the UW Campus. Included are endorsements from several faculty researchers and lecturers from a various departments for the addition of a laser confocal microscope system:

“Having the ability to image and measure nanofabricated structures with the ease and accuracy as provided by the Keyence 100 series laser scanning microscope is invaluable for the researchers and trainees in the Washington Nanofabrication Facility. Undergraduates, Master’s and Ph.D. students use the WNF to accomplish their research goals. Courses in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Bioengineering expose undergrad, grad and professional students to a cleanroom environment. In addition, WNF also employs close to 20 part-time undergraduate helpers. This kind of hands-on training is a particularly valuable educational experience. I am excited about the possibility of making a new, cutting-edge tool available to our students and to our entire lab user community.”
-- Karl Böhringer, Director Washington Nanofabrication Facility; Site Director National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network; Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering

“I’m thrilled to write in support of your Student Technology Fee application to secure a Laser Scanning Microscope to dramatically expand student access to a critical tool in nano-scale characterization and analysis. Nanotechnology and Molecular Engineering have quickly become two of the most exciting fields of study on campus, which is reflected in student demand for access to training in nano-related sciences. The UW’s Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering (NME) option has seen incredible growth in student demand. Currently 50 students are enrolled in the introductory course in nano principles (NME 220), and BioE’s own intro course in Bioengineering and Nanotechnology has another 24 students. Last year I had 107 NME Option students registered for credit in my NME seminar series. Providing students access to cutting-edge tools to support fabrication and characterization is essential to ensuring that the University of Washington prepare our graduates to compete in the increasingly multidisciplinary fields of nanotechnology and molecular engineering. As chair of the Bioengineering Curriculum Committee, I also see this tool playing a valuable role in supporting classroom and capstone research projects that all of our students complete for graduation. Improving student access to tools such as the Laser Scanning Microscope will help keep the UW at the forefront of nano-scale education and training.
Best of luck to you on your STF application. On behalf of all of our students, I hope you are successful.”
-- Daniel Ratner, Associate Professor of Bioengineering; Chair, Bioengineering Curriculum Committee; BioE Representative, Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering Option; Curriculum Committee Member, Molecular Engineering PhD Program

“A 3D imaging system will be very useful to measure the surface roughness of the photonic structures, which limits the performance of the photonic devices (loss in waveguides or quality factor in cavities). Such a 3D imaging will be helpful to characterize the etching process in a more scientific way. One important question on the scalability of the nano-photonics is: can it really be scaled, as there will always be a random disorder coming from the imperfect fabrication. This leads to different optical behavior throughout the chip. Using the laser scanning based 3D imaging, we can directly study the effect of disorders on the performance of the optical devices.
Apart from studying the effect of disorders, 3D imaging will also be useful to directly measure the depth of etching, which is not possible in general without destroying the device. In photonics this is very crucial as even a small change in the depth can give rise to a large change in the optical property.”
-- Arka Majumdar, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering / Physics

"Understanding how to control the roughness of thin films plays a major role in engineering solar cells and other energy conversion devices. This is particularly important for solution processed devices. Adding a 3D laser scanning microscope to the WNF would dramatically expand the student population that can access this kind of data. Typically, one must use a scanning electron microscope to see the required level of detail. However, due to the extensive training required, undergraduate students typically do not have access to SEMs. The proposed instrument is simple to use and would play a role in giving immediate feedback to students about film growth and successful device fabrication. I would use this for the solar energy classes that I teach."
-- Hugh W. Hillhouse, Rehnberg Chair Professor, Dept. Chemical Engineering, Molecular Engineering & Science Institute

“I strongly support the acquisition of the 3D laser scanning microscope, which combines the capabilities of an optical microscope and scanning electron microscope. The 3D laser scanning microscope would enhance the ability to observe device structures of my microfabrication course. Currently, we use optical microscope for the purpose, however, the short depth of field of the optical microscope limited the overall view of the devices. Another option is to use SEM, but the use of SEM takes too much time for the preparation and operation. This instrument will be a great benefit not only to microfabrication related courses across to University, but also researches.”
-- Dr. Tai-Chang Chen, Electrical Engineering Instructor EE527: Microfabrication Techniques

"My research on cell mechanics would benefit from the 3D laser scanning microscope. His lab has developed a platform to measure cellular forces at the nanoscale using arrays of silicone pillars with sub-micron diameters. His team uses the arrays to measure the gripping forces of blood platelets for trauma medicine, the contractile forces of cardiomyocytes derived from stem cells for novel cardiac therapies, and the migration forces of fibroblasts for repairing periodontal damage. The 3D microscope would provide his research with a powerful tool to characterize the new arrays and improve the accuracy of their measurements."
-- Nathan Sniadecki, Associate Professor, Dept of Mechanical Engineering

Installation Timeline

Parts are in-stock and will be delivered within 2 weeks of issuing a purchase order. Installation and setup takes a single day. We will train WNF staff who will then be responsible to train new users. Training on the tool will take approximately 30 minutes and usually WNF respond and schedule training within 24 hours of a training request. Once trained and electronically recorded as a trained user, students have 24/7 access to the instrument.

Resources Provided by Department

The WNF employs a highly skilled set of process and maintenance staff research scientists and engineers (RSE). At least 2 process engineers will be designated tool owners/trainers on the system. Since STF is providing the funds for the acquisition, there will be no training charges for UW users for the 7 year period in which the asset is owned by STF. In addition, 2 maintenance engineers will conduct the manufacturers scheduled preventative maintenance as well as first level troubleshooting and repair as machine problems arise at no charge. The WNF will cover the cost of repairs and machine parts for the period beyond the initial warranty out of the recharge center budget. Furthermore, the WNF will supply a requisite PC and monitors for operating the tool and connect those to our intranet and database system, CORAL, where the machine interface will be secured from tampering by untrained individuals and users will have temporary cloud storage of their images for transferring files without jeopardizing the machine's PC integrity by being on a public network or subject to malicious software from USB devices. The WNF has a proven track record of maintaining, providing training, and operating over 80 complex fabrication and characterization tools. We boast an aggregate equipment uptime of better than 97% based on a 24/7 schedule. By placing the instrument in a shared lab, there is assurance that machines will be maintained and in working order and with our control system, we ensure equitable and fair access for users.

Access Restrictions (if any)

WNF operates within a secured, access controlled, part of Fluke Hall. There are physical access restrictions for one-time and infrequent (<6 months between use) users that would require staff escort and assistance. The machine user interface would be interlocked with our CORAL machine scheduling and use tracking metric database. This prevents untrained individuals from tampering or damaging sensitive equipment. Once trained, regular users will have Husky ID enabled access to the secured doors and a login for the CORAL system that will enable 24/7 access to the equipment. The system will be housed outside of the fabrication cleanroom in either common inspection spaces or a teaching laboratory, so non-WNF users will have access without having to pay cleanroom access fees. Since STF funds will be used for the tool there will be no equipment or access charges for UW users that enter WNF for the sole purpose of using this instrument.

Student Endorsements

Included are a few endorsements from both graduate and undergraduate students as well as post-doctoral researchers:

"[A] Confocal laser microscope would be a great addition to our equipment! It would allow me to measure plating profiles much faster and with greater accuracy thereby enabling me achieve desired results in more efficient manner. In addition, I would love to have this tool outside of cleanroom which saves gowning and de-gowning time!"
-- Evgenia Yuferova, Undergraduate Researcher, Senior, Department of Chemical Engineering

"The Washington Nanofabrication Facility is interested in using STF funding for a confocal laser microscope that will allow us to gather profilometry data and inspect our samples with one tool. This microscope will help us with our ongoing experiments at our lab.
Please consider funding this microscope for Washington Nanofabrication Facility."
-- Alex Stuetz, Undergraduate Researcher, Junior, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

"Having access to a high quality piece of imaging equipment without the need for reservations on the SEM would greatly increase the productivity and quality of my undergraduate research. The ability the quickly and accurately measure surface topography of deposited films would help me to better understand the impact of surface roughness on the quality of the devices which I am working on, and the imaging capabilities of this piece of equipment would be incredibly helpful for the posters and presentations required of me for my Mary Gates Foundation funded project that I am currently working on within the WNF. This microscope would be a great addition to the WNF, and I hope to see it in the lab soon!"
-- Dominik Stemer, Senior and Mary Gates Scholar, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering

"This scanning confocal laser microscope will allow accurate measurement of features that I currently can only observe using a surface profilometer. I look forward to using this piece of equipment and think that it will be a valuable and highly used addition to our laboratory for years to come."
-- Quinn Haynie, Undergraduate Researcher, Senior, Dept. of Material Science and Engineering

"Determining the profile of a surface is essential for developing and validating biosensors. Key aspects to fabricating biosensors on the micrometer and nanometer scale are the size and alignment of features, to ensure the device will work properly, and surface roughness, which is an indicator for binding of biological constituents. Adding a 3D laser scanning microscope to the WNF will facilitate and expedite this process, as it can quickly perform both of these tasks, whereas costly and time consuming scanning electron microscope (SEM) and atomic force microscope measurements must currently be performed to achieve these goals. Furthermore, biologic structures must be heavily processed for SEM imaging, which can result in incomplete or incorrect results. A 3D laser scanning microscope does not require such processing, and can validate analyte binding without risking the distortion of a system. All of the devices for my research are fabricated in the WNF, and adding a 3D laser scanning microscope will significantly accelerate their development."
-- Hal Holmes, Ph.D. student, Department of Bioengineering

"The access to high-tech facilities at the WNF as well as their good management are key elements for the successful development of new micro- and nano-devices. An important part of the research is the optimization of novel materials and fabrication methods, which lead to the continuous characterization of samples. At this time, the inspection is performed using the optical microscope to study general aspects of the sample, SEM for the small features and AFM for the roughness. The 3D laser scanning microscope will facilitate the performance of this three operations in a single step, saving time to the WNF users and leaving the aforementioned equipments available for more specific uses."
-- Dr. Nerea Alayo, postdoctoral researcher, Department of Electrical Engineering


Group Funded Item Unit price Quantity Subtotal
Standalone - Laser Scanning Microscope

VK-X150 Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope

$97,653.00 1 $97,653.00

The Keyence VK-X150 series 3D Laser Scanning Microscope including a Laser Scanning Microscope Measuring Unit and a proprietary data analysis software package. It combines the analysis capabilities of a high resolution optical microscope, a surface profilometer, and a scanning electron microscope into a single, easy to use platform. The microscope has magnification range of 200x to 16,000x with up to 10 nm spatial resolution and 5 nm vertical measurement resolution. The vertical height is measured without contacting the surface by raster scanning an infrared laser and measuring the reflection response. This is correlated with confocal microscope scans that image multiple vertical slices so that processed images are completely in focus, irrespective of the depth of focus limitations of the objective lens. This in effect produces a color image, completely in-focus at the magnification of SEM, and provides height data for looking a surface roughness and patterned devices at the touch of a button. Furthermore, this intuitive to use instrument does not need to be housed in a cleanroom and will provide ease of access to all students; providing them with timely access to critical data.


The Washington Nanofabrication Facility (WNF) proposes the acquisition of a Keyence VK-X150 series 3D Laser Scanning Microscope. This tool fills a crucial gap for imaging of microscopic structures that are built and synthesized at UW and will provide open access to students and researchers since it will be housed in a shared lab spaces. Conventional optical microscopes are easy to use and easily accessible for students, but their resolution is limited by the wavelength of light; moreover, the depth of focus is very small, such that an observer can only see a slice of the specimen and not its 3D shape. Scanning electron microscopes (SEM), on the other hand, are capable of creating very high resolution images, but require extensive training and substantial operating costs, making them less accessible to our student population. The proposed tool is capable to create 3D images of specimens at lateral resolutions of 10 nm and vertical resolutions in the 5 nm range. This capability is valuable for inspecting various materials and devices including micro sensors, portable, wearable and implantable devices built at the WNF, materials synthesized or tested in MSE or MolES, and it is particularly useful for the rapidly growing area of 3D printed devices that are being produced in the CoMotion maker space. This instrument will advance student scholarship and enhance university and departmental stature. Its unique imaging capabilities will also be valuable to generate appealing 3D images of micro and nanosystems developed at UW, and therefore help in broader educational and outreach efforts.

Budget Info:
Keyence Corporation of America
Sales Contact: Meyer, Joshua
Tel: 1-888-KEYENCE Ext: 87112
Fax: 855-539-0123
Quotation: 10824645, Quote Date: 4/21/2015
The Keyence Laser Scanning Microscope consists of the following components:
VK-X150K Lasers Scanning Microscope Controller (Red Laser), list price $26,500.00
VK-X160K Laser Scanning Microscope Measurement Unit (Red Laser), list price $57,800.00
VK-H1XME Multi-file Analysis Application (Application Software for VKX), list price $16,500.00
VK-H1XV2E Observation Application for VK Series, list price $9,500
Total price $110,300.00
University Discount $12,700.00


Sales Tax - Exempt

$0.00 1 $0.00

Tax exempt - research equipment


WNF is a research organizational unit and is tax exempt for scientific equipment acquisitions

Total requested: $97,653.00

Total funded: $0.00


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