AMO celebrates the 20-year anniversary of AMICA – A success story in nanotechnology

July 7 marks 20 years since AMICA, the technology lab of the non profit company AMO GmbH from Aachen started its research activities. We would like to take this opportunity to look back on a successful history and at the same time having a look into the future.

AMO has been founded in 1993 with its mission to build-up the technology lab AMICA. Through its proximity to RWTH Aachen University and its independence the research company’s role as a pathfinder supplies bridging between university research and industrial applications. With the opening of AMICA on July 7, 1997 a new chapter in nanotechnology has been opened for the state of NRW.

Under management of the founder and longstanding managing director Professor Heinrich Kurz, AMO proved to be an innovative research and development partner for several companies and universities. Soon the technique for nanostructuring turned out to be the base for AMO’s success. Even today AMO’s applied research and development projects in electronics, photonics and sensorics are based on its outstanding technology base in this area.

A growing significance is being attached to research and integration of new materials. These are the keys to many innovations in AMO‘s research and application fields. Almost every computer contains devices made of so called „high-k“ isolators which were also investigated at AMO together with its partners from industry in the early years of 2000. Later on this was completed by the material „Graphene” existing out of only one single atom layer of carbon. Being pioneers in applied research AMO’s researchers were able to integrate the so far almost unknown material into the CMOS technology and to build the worldwide first Graphene transistor in 2007. Now AMO is a prominent part of the European project „Graphene Flagship“ which is the worldwide largest project in this area with a project period of 10 years and the purpose to bring the material Graphene from laboratory to industrial application.

Besides electronics AMO became involved within the area of silicon nanophotonics already at an early stage, always targeting to combine silicon electronics and photonics. Today AMO with its established silicon nitride photonics technology is a reliable partner for companies and research institutions.

New technology potentials in the area of sensorics, representing a further main focus of AMO, were exploited out of the synergies in the area of nanoelectronics and nanophotonics. Sensorics are trend-setting for AMO with respect to future application fields eg. „Internet of Things (IoT)“, „Industry 4.0“/„Smart factories“, „Machine Learning“ or „Autonomous Driving“.

Professor Max Lemme became the new managing director at AMO GmbH in February 2017 after Prof. Heinrich Kurz, founder and managing director at AMO for many years, passed away unexpectedly.

Professor Lemme is not completely unknown to AMO. After finishing his studies in Electrical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University, he became the manager of the nanotechnology department at AMO from 1998 to 2008. In this position he was responsible for setting up the entire cleanroom facilities and he significantly shaped the overall S&T strategy of AMO in the area of micro- and nanoelectronics.

Looking back to 20 years of research within the wide field of nanotechnologies we can sum up by saying that AMO with its research lab AMICA was very successfully in its role as a pathfinder and closing the gap. “20 years of research let us review to a long tradition with international standing“ managing director Professor Max Lemme stated. “More than 200 local, national and international organizations from industry and science are our partners today.”

Professor Lemme will continue the tradition of Professor Kurz and will focus AMO’s role as a pathfinder for new technologies. He is counting on local cooperation with RWTH Aachen University environment as well as with the research center Jülich and North Rhine-Westphalia, but also on national and international networking. Especially in the area of quantum technology he identified research needs on the mid and long term and thus the chance to deliver important contributions with the AMO research team. The most important mission is: The nanotechnology lab will remain a reliable partner for successful innovation!