The Institute of Microstructure Technology has been gaining expertise over many years in structuring diverse polymeric materials and selected metals (especially gold and nickel) down to the nanometer range. Our technologies comprise lithographic structuring (electron beam lithography, deep X-ray lithography, and UV lithography) and replication methods (hot embossing, thermoforming, and nanoimprint).
A large variety of manufacturing processes, test methods, and state-of-the-art equipment are available on site. Most of the devices and facilities are accommodated in our cleanrooms on a total area of approximately 500 m².
Micro-optics, microfluidics, and the disciplines combining both are our central fields of work. We develop micro-optical systems such as micro-interferometers and waveguide-based devices and combine them with microfluidic components. X-ray beam optics is an interesting and widely demanded field of research within micro-optics. We develop and manufacture lens systems and grid structures that are characterized by challenging aspect ratios and precisions as required for the realization of X-ray beam optics. Our activities in the field of microfluidics are aimed at developing analytical devices based on lab-on-a-chip concepts and at conceiving solutions to massive parallel analyte processing in systems with very high rates of flow. In addition to these fields, we explore novel approaches to structuring nanoactuators and nanomechanical components.
Employees at the Institute of Microstructure Technology are integrated with their work into the programs STN (Science and Technology of Nanosystems), BioInterfaces, and PNI (Photons, Neutrons, and Ions) of the Helmholtz Association. Science and technology in research and industry profit by the technical infrastructure and the know-how of the employees at IMT through co-operations within projects which can be proposed with the KNMF (Karlsruhe NANO MICRO Facility) technology platform.
The Institute of Microstructure Technology has emerged from the former Institute of Nuclear Process Engineering in 1988. In the eighties, microstructured components were needed for separation nozzles and were manufactured using lithographic and electroplating methods. The related steps and issues lead to the invention of the LIGA process and, after discontinuation of work on the separation nozzle method, to the birth of today’s Institute of Microstructure Technology. Once a pillar of research at the former Nuclear Research Center, microstructure technology now is one of the exploratory focuses of the present Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).
Already since its foundation in the late 1950s, the institute has been jointly run by the former University of Karlsruhe and the Karlsruhe “reactor station”. As a matter of fact, it may well be called a precursor of the KIT idea and strategy. Even before the KIT was founded, our institute has been contributing essentially to academic teaching and training. In the diverse courses, doctoral studies, and student projects that we offer, scientific-technical excellence is combined with adequate teaching and training, both of which will remain an important task of IMT at the KIT.