Nanofab-net: Preserving nano-fabrication knowledge

Nanofab-net: Publishing the unpublished. Credit: M. Bereyhi

Nanofab-net: Publishing the unpublished. Credit: M. Bereyhi

EPFL’s Open Science project, creates an archive for sharing micro- and nanofabrication notes.

Nanofabrication is ubiquitous, used to build computer chips, MEMS sensors for handheld devices, and even superconducting quantum circuits for future quantum computing. And yet, the science of fabricating such complex circuits is rife with trial-and-error and failure.

At EPFL, several laboratories are involved in advanced nanofabrication, such as the Laboratory Of Photonics And Quantum Measurements (LPQM), which fabricates integrated nanophotonics circuits for the next generation of chip-scale frequency combs, and nano-optomechanical systems for quantum optomechanics – a field that studies quantum mechanics of engineered systems for unprecedentedly sensitive measurements, which are only limited by the laws of quantum mechanics.

But one issue is that very little knowledge is shared about how to make functioning devices, and much of it is “tacit” and at best recorded in the appendix of some PhD thesis. This is exactly what the Open Science initiative Nanofab-net aims to change.

Nanofab-net was co-founded by Mohammad Bereyhi (PhD student) at LPQM, in the framework of EPFL’s Open Science initiative in 2019.

The purpose of Nanofab-net is to be an open-access archive of short nanofabrication reports that makes it possible to search through tacit knowledge. Sharing the detailed processes can help develop collaborations across the academic world.

Nanofab-net allows users to upload their notes on their personal space and keep their own note collections as well as publish them on the platform and receive a citable digital object identifier (DOI), generated by automatically uploading the published articles on Zenodo’s open-access servers.

In addition, Nanofab-net features interactive commenting on every published article, allowing researchers to share their experience on a topic. This saves time and resources for research groups that are working on a fabrication process that has been already tried by another group.

“Everyone talks about device #20 in their published articles, but the other nineteen failures are often neglected. Nanofab-net allows the researchers to document and share their progressive steps and the tacit knowledge behind the trials and errors that occurred during process developments,” says Bereyhi. Archiving the intermediate steps by researchers allows them to receive a citable doi for future reference in their publications. As a result, the details are not lost and the published results are reproducible using the fully detailed processes.

Nanofab-net aims to be the “arXiv” of nanofabrication. It is an ambitious goal, that will require a change of mind in users of advanced nanofabrication. has now been launched, and a webinar will be held on 7/7/2020 at 13:00 to describe the platform to interested users and address questions. The meeting will be held via ZOOM.