It's all about nano
Nanotechnology is the branch of knowledge that is engaged in the extremely minute; the scale of a few atoms and molecules. One nanometre is a million times smaller than a millimetre. Many materials take on unique properties at the nano-scale, and nanotechnologists make grateful use of this fact.
Sensitive and accurate
At this extremely small scale it becomes possible to investigate the composition of materials and liquids. This calls for exceptionally sensitive and accurate testing equipment. However, working with these materials or making structures of only a few nanometres involves a great deal of work. They are so microscopic that you need a range of highly complex devices to be able to process them and even to see them.
Hence the researchers carry out their work in a laboratory that contains so-called cleanrooms. A cleanroom is an area in which the air is extremely clean. This is essential given that a single particle of dust can damage a nano-product simply because a dust particle is much bigger.
MESA+ is the largest research institute in the Netherlands in the field of nanotechnology. A total of 525 researchers work together on research at the institute. For instance, they are developing completely new materials for solar panels or for the computer chips of the future. Other work here concerns lab-on-a-chip technology. These ‘labs-on-chips’ are minuscule laboratories, often smaller than a postage stamp, but still a lab that can perform a variety of measurements. They can, for instance, determine the composition of blood, or establish whether or not a male person is fertile.