Site: Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule (ETH)
Solid State Physics Laboratory
ETH Hönggerberg HPF E3
CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland

Date Visited: 15 October 1997

WTEC: E. Hu (report author), H. Goronkin, M.C. Roco, D.T. Shaw



Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, was founded by the Swiss government in 1854 as a polytechnic university. Until 1969, it was the only national university in Switzerland; today, it is part of an ETH domain comprising ETHZ, EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the polytechnic institute at Lausanne) and four national research institutes. The ETH itself comprises about 12,000 registered students, 330 professorships, and 700 lecturers. Each year, about 1,250 students receive an ETH diploma and another 450 students complete a doctoral thesis.


ETHZ is carrying out a broad spectrum of nanoscience research, spanning synthesis, processing, and characterization, ranging from fullerenes to ferroelectric to magnetic materials and encompassing electronic devices and nanorobots (Nanowissenschaften 1996). The funding sources seem largely to emanate from the Swiss National Science Foundation, often under the auspices of a National Research Program (such as NFP 36) or a Swiss Priority Program; funding is also provided by industrial sources such as IBM Rüschlikon or Ciba-Geigy.


Professor Dr. Ensslin, Professor of Physics at ETHZ, is also formally head of the Paul Scherrer Institute Laboratory for Micro- and Nanostructures; a position specifically designed to enhance close collaborations between the two institutions. A long-time contributor to the study of functional nanostructures, Professor Dr. Ensslin described some current projects undertaken in his laboratory at ETHZ:

The WTEC team also visited the laboratory of Dr. Hans von Känel, who has developed an ultrahigh vacuum system for in situ growth and processing of Si, Si/Ge materials that allow monitoring of the growth process; low-temperature, controlled materials modification; and STM analysis. The system is also used for characterization of nanomechanical properties through the ability to prepare and "load" (sputter-deposit materials) cantilever probes in situ


Nanowissenschaften an der ETH Zürich. 18 May 1996.

PSI, EAWAG (Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology) EMPA, Swiss Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing and Research), and WSL (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow, and Landscape).

Held, R., T. Heinzel, P. Studerus, K. Ensslin, and M. Holland. 1997. Fabrication of a semiconductor quantum point contact by lithography with an atomic force microscope. Applied Physics Letters Nov.

Published: September 1999; WTEC Hyper-Librarian