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  • Writer's pictureKartik Buddha

A Software Engineer's Journey into Nanotechnology

Updated: May 11, 2023

I never thought I would find myself working in the field of nanotechnology. As a software engineer with a background in computer science, my career had been focused on developing algorithms and user interfaces for various platforms and frameworks. But life has a funny way of taking unexpected turns, and I found myself in the position of eventually leading the software team for a Zurich-based nanotechnology company.


At first, I was intimidated by the new and unfamiliar concepts I encountered. Nanotechnology, after all, deals with materials and systems on the nanoscale – a scale so small that it's difficult to comprehend. But as I delved deeper into the field, I discovered that my expertise in software engineering was a valuable asset in developing the control systems for our nanolithography tool.


Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary field that involves physics, chemistry, and engineering, among others. At its core, it involves the design, production, and manipulation of materials and structures on the nanoscale. The nanoscale is typically defined as being between 1 and 100 nm in size – for reference, a human hair is roughly 100,000 nm in diameter.



One way to think about nanotechnology is to consider how it can be used to manipulate and control matter at the atomic and molecular level. This opens up new possibilities for developing materials and devices with unique properties and characteristics that are not found in macroscopic systems. For example, carbon nanotubes are incredibly strong and lightweight, while quantum dots have unique optical properties that make them useful for imaging and sensing applications.


As a software engineer, my role in the nanolithography system was to develop the control software that would precisely position the nanoscale features on the substrate. This required an understanding of physics and semiconductor electronics concepts, as well as engineering principles related to precision control and feedback systems. I worked closely with our physicists and chemists to translate their experimental designs into software algorithms that could be executed on our lithography tool.


In addition to the technical challenges, working in nanotechnology has given me a newfound appreciation for the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. By working with experts in fields such as physics, chemistry, and materials science, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of how the software I was developing fit into the larger context of our research goals. I also learned the value of effective communication and collaboration, as we worked together to overcome technical challenges and push the boundaries of what was possible.


In conclusion, my journey has been both challenging and rewarding. It has required me to step out of my comfort zone and learn new concepts and skills, but it has also opened up new opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and innovative problem-solving. I'm excited to continue pushing the boundaries of what's possible at the intersection of nanotechnology and software engineering, and to see where this journey takes me next.

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