Realize your nano vision

Sweden’s future – in your hands!

Last Updated Aug 2019
By: Jörgen Städje

Miniaturization and efficiency are today’s buzzwords in society. The prototype of the first mobile phone was the size of three wardrobes. What happened next? I shrank ten thousand times. But at the time only Ericsson could afford that sort of development.

Today's start-up companies do not have such economic muscle. Instead, they have Myfab, where intricate microcircuits can be manufactured with world-leading machinery. But someone has to pay. Sweden pays.


What’s the use of all this super-hightech to Swedish general society? A lot, actually! Sweden has become a wealthy, high-tech country with a prominent position in the world, thanks to its industry. And don’t forget to thank the well-educated students from Uppsala, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Lund for bringing their knowledge about Swedish high-tech to the rest of the world.

In the beginning, only the U.S. had the capacity to build advanced aircraft and jet engines, but Saab and Volvo Aero changed all that. Image: CC BY-SA 3.0

Ericsson Microwave (now, Saab Microwave) achieved world renown thanks to its artillery hunting radar ARTHUR, as well as its airborne radar Erieye, competing head-on with the American AWACS system. Image: Værnsfælles Forsvarskommando, CC BY-SA 4.0

Ericsson started off as a small family company on Queen’s Street in Stockholm in the 19:th century. Today it is a global telecommunications giant. Image: Ericsson.

Being able to directly see heat, cold and various escaping gases is an enormous benefit for industrial maintenance. AGA Thermovision, (now, FLIR) pioneered the heat camera for industrial and medical use. Image: FLIR.

Volvo, Saab and Scania emerged as spin-offs from other industries during the early 20:th century. Quality made them world famous. Lorries, cars, buses and special vehicles of all kinds from Sweden are on the roads all over the world. And the new trend is self-driving lorries. Image: Heggyhomolit, CC BY-SA 3.

So, the Royal Warship Vasa wasn’t all that good, but Sweden has learnt since 1628. Gotland Class submarines are made for sinking. They are among the most silent running submarines available, and Kockums made them unique by furnishing them with vibration-free, noiseless Stirling engines.

Apart from Sweden having Europe’s only commercial rocket base, Sweden was also the leader of the first tryout of electrical spacecraft propulsoin. The Smart-1 satellite was developed by Swedish Space Corporation, and built by Saab Ericsson Space in Linköping. It worked like a dream and made a big hole in the Moon. Image: ESA

What do all these have in common? Transistors! Integrated circuits! Sensors!

Swedish universities are highly ranked and Swedish civil engineers are sought after in the world. Other high-tech countries have realised this, and are sending their PhD students here to provide them with much-needed knowledge in semiconductor technology. This, in its turn, means more income for Sweden.

But the postgraduates can’t do anything, unless they get access to first-class research facilities.

This is where Myfab Steps in

Image: Myfab, Lund

Myfab is the best possible environment for the development and fabrication of materials and device structures for advanced research in physics, materials science, nanoscience, chemistry, life sciences and nanoelectronics.

Myfab is part of the Nordic Nanolab Network, where management, experts and users collaborate extensively in improving operations, process development, tool maintenance, user services, problem solving and by arranging common user meetings.

And this is one of the main aspects, making Myfab so popular. Everything always works! The processes are reliable. The results turn out first-class. Students and industry can focus on research and improvement, rather than on troubleshooting failing processes and faulty equipment.

Myfab provides cleanroom space of up to 5,400 sq. m as well as over 800 different tools for manufacture and characterisation of semiconductors. This is what makes the five-lab conglomerate so strong; the ability to share resources, as well as having unique machinery.

What? In little Sweden?

Image: SICS

So, what can Sweden do that the large semiconductor powerhouses in Calfornia and China cannot? A lot, actually. Myfab is not about manufacturing processors with billions of transistors. Swedish industry needs sensors, infrared cameras and electronics that can stand up to harsh environments, high-power transistors to drive trains and bio-sensors for new methods in medical research.

Anyway, all the important semiconductor research happens in Silicon Valley in California and in American universities, doesn’t it? Not so. Semiconductor research in Sweden has been, and will continue to be of great importance to industry worldwide.

New “Silicon Valleys” made up of spin-off startup companies have emerged around Swedish universities. These spin-offs are run by researchers and developers with one foot in the lab and the other in industry. Anything that could possibly be put on a silicon wafer is of interest to Myfab. It is that very interest that has turned Myfab at the four universities into one of the world’s foremost places for testing and mass manufacture of new types of components.

But, let’s face it; the industry wouldn’t be the least bit interested if Myfab’s results weren’t always high quality, the results always repeatable, the machinery always up and running, and the processes equally reliable. This rubs off on the students graduating at Myfab. They get an absolutely world-class education, and they get to work with leading-edge machinery.

PhD students from Myfab are coveted in Sweden as well as abroad. This has turned Myfab into a valuable asset for Swedish society as a whole. The sponsors, such as industry and various foundations, thus gets real proof that their money have been put to use for something that benefits the country, like new methods and techniques, high-power electronics, quantum computers, sensors, environmental research and other leading edge technology.

Advances in Figures

The success of Myfab is directly measurable in the number of new methods developed, how many PhD’s have graduated each year and how many scientific papers have been peer reviewed and published in well-known magazines.

  • During one year, 800 peer reviewed scientific papers are usually published, and more than 50 PhD students graduate.
  • Between the years 2010-2018 the number of active users increased by more than 150, from 704 to 855. The number is expected to continue increasing to more than 1000 active users in the year 2024.

Myfab happens to be the only research infrastructure of this kind in Sweden. There are other, smaller cleanroom facilities, but they do not live up to the requirements of a national research infrastructure, Furthermore, Myfab is the only Swedish infrastructure where manufacture, material synthesis, structures, components as well as micro and nano scale systems are researched.

Myfab was evaluated along with other research infrastructures in 2012, and the experts came to the conclusion that: “Myfab could serve as an excellent model for other distributed infrastructures for micro and nano fabrication in the whole of Europe, as well as an excellent example of a well-managed Swedish national infrastructure.”

Not only “could”. In fact, that’s how it turned out. The Swedish model has been userd as a framework for a common European EuroNanoLab, with participants from France, Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and The Czech Republic.

In this way, research in Sweden will remain absolutely top-notch in the world.

The Future

Nano technology and nano science is an integral part of modern society. There are great hopes that the methods will increase the conditions for solving our global challenges. Myfab will continue to develop its manufacturing processes and investments necessary for new areas of research, upgrading user education, including e-learning, increasing instrument quality and user support. This is where the real profit to civil society is revealed.

Benefit to Society

Image: Electrumlab/Acreo

All in all: Myfab offers open access to a world class research infrastructure for Swedish scientists and innovators. The SEK 159 millions donated to the Myfab laboratories in Gothenburg, Lund, Stockholm and Uppsala are returned as a direct profit for Sweden in the form of:

  • Competitive power
  • Civil engineering
  • Job creation
  • Support for, and cooperation with Swedish high-tech industry.

Sweden is under obligation to continue positioning itself as one of the most technologically advanced countries of the world. One way of doing this is to produce unique semiconductors, like Myfab does.

All the good stuff is not from California!

Further Reading

Let’s be proud of Techno-Sweden (in Swedish):