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In March 2018, the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Direct-Write Fabrication of 3D Nano-Probes (CDL DEFINE) was inaugurated at the FELMI-ZFE at Graz University of Technology, funded by the Christian Doppler Association. The origins of this CDL trace back to collaborative R&D projects with GETec Microscopy Inc., an Austrian company that introduced a compact Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) tailored for seamless integration into space-constrained instruments like Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM) and Focused Ion Beam (FIB) systems, including SEM-FIB coupled Dual Beam Microscopes (DBM). During these projects, GETec recognized the potential of an emerging nanofabrication technology called Focused Electron Beam Induced Deposition (FEBID), which lies in the core competence of Assoc.Prof. DI Dr. Harald Plank since 2007. In essence, this technology enables maskless, additive, direct-write nano-printing and facilitates the single-step fabrication of complex, freestanding 3D architectures with feature sizes down to the sub-10 nm regime. To provide GETec’s product portfolio a worldwide unique element, this CDL focuses on novel application concepts of 3D nano-probes with sharp apex radii (<10 nm) and all-metal composition, distinguishing them from commercially available alternative products. The CDL’s efforts encompass a range of applications, including electric nanoprobes for conductive AFM (CAFM), electrostatic force microscopy (EFM), Kelvin force microscopy (KFM), magnetic probes for magnetic force microscopy (MFM) and advanced concepts for scanning thermal microscopy (SThM). Having showcased the remarkable superiority of the aforementioned nanoprobes over conventional products, the CDL now directs its attention towards developing multifunctional nanoprobes. The objective is to enable simultaneous multimodal AFM characterization, aligning with another project at FELMI-ZFE named FUSION. In doing so, the CDL has effectively transitioned this form of 3D nanoprinting from a primarily research-driven method to a commercially viable technology, with current efforts focused on scaling up for serial production.

Figure 1: (a) basic principle of additive, direct-write manufacturing via FEBID. (b) Basic principle of 3D nanoprinting via systematic stacking of individual nano-volumes (1à2), where the lateral beam velocity is the decisive control parameter.

The 1st price of the Houska Award 2020 in the category “Academic Research” was awarded to Harald Plank (2nd left), handed over by Mariella Schurz (left) und Erich Hampel (right). The ceremony was accompanied by the CDL key researcher Dr. Robert Winkler (2nd right). © B&C/Alexandra Thomson


[1] GETec Microscopy GmbH & Quantum Design Microscopy, Darmstadt, Germany, AFSEM nano GETec | Quantum Design (
[2] “3D Nanoprinting via Focused Electron Beams”, R. Winkler, J.D. Fowlkes, P.D. Rack and H. Plank;  Journal of Applied Physics 2019, 125 (21), 210901.
[3] Christian Doppler Gesellschaft, Vienna, Austria, Christian Doppler Forschungsgesellschaft: Christian Doppler Forschungsgesellschaft (
[4] Anton Paar GmbH, Graz, Austria, Österreich ::
[5] “3D Nanoprinting of All-Metal Nanoprobes for Electric AFM Modes”, L.M. Seewald, J. Sattelkow, M. Brugger-Hatzl, G. Kothleitner, H. Frerichs, C. Schwalb, S. Hummel and H. Plank; Nanomaterials 2022, 12 (24), 4477.
[6] “Three-dimensional nanothermistors for thermal probing”, J. Sattelkow, J.E. Fröch, R. Winkler, S. Hummel, C. Schwalb and H. Plank, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2019, 11 (25), 22655.
[7] Patent “Multifunctional nanoprobes for scanning probe microscopy”, H. Plank, J. Sattelkow, R. Winkler, C. Schwalb; US Patent Nr. 11454648.
[8] Houskapreis – B&C Gruppe (

Industrial Partner

  1. GETec Microscopy GmbH
  2. Anton Paar GmbH (discontinued)

Funding Agency & CDL Period

  • Christian Doppler Gesellschaft
  • Boltzmanngasse 20/1/3, | 1090 Wien | Austria
  • Web:
  • Email:
  • Funding Period: 1.3.2018 – 28.2.2025

Thematic Cluster

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