Swiss NanoConvention 2024 in Basel


SNCs in Basel have traditionally been among the most attended editions of this premier conference on Nanotechnology in Switzerland, which dates back to its beginnings in the early 2010s. The Hightech Zentrum Aargau focus area Materials-and Nanotechnology and the community platform have supported and contributed to the program of this event for nearly as long.

After the welcome to about 300 participants by Michel Despont, Chairman of the Managing Board of the Swiss MNT Network, and Martino Poggio, Director of the Swiss Nanoscience Institute SNI, two inspiring keynotes kicked off the event: Firstly Harry Anderson, University of Oxford, with his keynote on “Nanowires and Nanorings from the Colours of Life” – porphyrins, for instance chlorophyll, can also be used as molecular building blocks to form complex nanostructures, able to transport charges over several nanometers. Secondly, Simon Gröblacher of TU Delft provided fascinating insights into “Quantum experiments with mechanical and optical excitations” − more specifically, the coupling of phonons (that have a good frequency for this purpose) with a (nano)mechanical oscillator, with the aim to prepare quantum mechanical states, that then can be read out via single photons. In other words: Quantum Optomechanics!

High-profile talks by high-profile people

An excellent Güntherodt Lecture was given on the second day by Kathy Moler, University of Stanford. She managed to begin her lecture on the topic of “Quantum Materials & Nanoscale Sensors” by an introduction that everybody could follow – even non-experts in the field. This is what it takes in such an interdisciplinary field, great job!

Another special talk worth mentioning was the farewell lecture of long-term nano researcher, former director of SNI and, if we may say so, “nano-activist” Christian Schönenberger. We wish him all the best for the future, which will for sure involve “nano” in one way or another.

The link between industry and academic research

While the above describes concepts need to find their way into industry, one major aim of this annual conference is «to improve the interlink between industry and academic research», as Michel Despont had put it in his welcome. Consequently, four of the total 17 sessions in the Congress Center Basel were labeled “Applied”, and the chairpersons

  • Johannes Mosbacher (FHNW Muttenz, AS1: Nanosciences in Pharma & Drug Discovery)
  • Marcus Morstein (Hightech Zentrum Aargau, AS2: Applied Industrial Nanotechnology)
  • Christian Grünzweig (ANAXAM, AS3: Advanced Manufacturing)
  • Peter Moselund (Swiss PIC, AS4: Nano 3D Printing and Imprinting of Optical Elements)

had managed to put together relevant contributions, mostly presented by the industry. Impressive examples of “mission innovation” and the transfer of technologies to practice! Picking the Example of AS2, the presenters inspired us with thriving examples applied industrial nanotechnologies:

  • Robotic assembly of carbon nanotubes (and sheet nanomaterials) for semiconductor applications beyond the limitations of silicon, presented by Natanael Lanz, CTO and co-founder of ETH and Empa spin-off Chiral Nano;
  • The use of extreme robust silicon carbide (SiC) structures for high-dose X-ray detectors in flash radiotheraphy of patients and future transfer of energy to space devices via Laser, presented by Massimo Camarda, founder and CTO ofPSI spin-off SenSiC;
  • and the fascinating, near-perfect control of coating nanostructure through combination of ALD/MLD and PVD in a single coating unit, jointly developed by the Empa Thun (group head low-dimensional materials, Ivo Utke presented the work) and their spin-off SwissCluster. The new equipment allows for deposition of new families of nanolayered coatings − even novel, hybrid organic-inorganic materials.

There was a lot to learn and it will be important for future nanotechnology tech transfer to further foster such Applied Sessions at the SNC.

Finishing with a blast: the Awards Session

Over the two conference days, there was a lot to learn about nanoscience and nanotechnology. The poster session served at showcasing the variety of topics in current research, and one poster stood out: By public voting, the Poster Award2024 went to Aura Maria Moreno-Echeverri (Bionanomaterials Group, AMI) for her work on Accumulation of Different Silica Nanoparticlesin Lyosomes of Macrophages.
The professionals from the SNI Nano Imaging Lab (Daniel Mathys and Marcus Wyss) scored the Nano Image Award 2024, voted by the attendees. Their winner image shows a tastefully colored SEM picture of the collagen fibers in hip cartilage. Congratulations, great success for these two member institutions!

Young scientists are of central importance for progress and innovation in the field of nanotechnology.  The team was therefore delighted to present one of this year's Swiss Nanotechnology PhD Awards to Marco Coraiola (IBM Zurich Research). The topic of his recent publication in Nature Communications: “Phase-engineering the Andreev band structure of a three-terminal Josephson junction” (Open Source).
Well deserved, congratulations to Marco and the other four awardees! We hope to see them stick with this exciting field and look forward to meeting them at future conferences.

Outlook: Swiss Nanoconvention 2025 in Brugg

A big thank you to my colleagues on the program committee, all presenters, Conference Chair Martino Poggio and the staff of the SNI for a perfectly organized event!

Now it is time to look forward. It is not a secret anymore: The next SNC will take place on 12th and 13th of June, 2025 in the Campussaal Brugg/Windisch with Yasin Ekinci (LXN, PSI) as conference chair and conference co-chair Hatice Altug, EPFL, and of course the support of and the Hightech Zentrum Aargau.

We welcome the nano community to the Aargau, save the date and see you next year!

(MMo /