Description of the organisation

METAS was founded in 1862 under the name Eidgenössische Eichstätte and it is since then  the national metrology institute of Switzerland. As a national metrology institute it is responsible for providing measurement and consulting services to Switzerland and the European community. Out of 186 total employees there are 70 scientists. METAS actively contributes to the fundamental science community with projects like the Watt balance or Caesium fountain clock. The METAS campus consists of several  sub-surface labs for very sensitive experiments and two specially constructed buildings which guarantee good temperature and humidity stability.  Additionally METAS has access to clean rooms at EPFL in Lausanne and it has an in-house mechanical workshop and an electronics workshop to design and machine parts.

The RF and Microwave Laboratory at METAS is  in one of the temperature stabilized buildings. It consists of 4 technicians and 3 scientists. Standard services which are provided to the public are: reflection, transmission, power and pulse measurements in coaxial lines. The RF and Microwave lab has outstanding expertise in quantitative measurements of electromagnetic material properties at the nanoscale. The laboratory has developed its own unique version of a scanning microwave microscope. Especially the fields of reflection measurement in coaxial lines and material characterization at the nanoscale benefit both from the in house development and refinement of calibration algorithms for vector network analysis. This is additionally underpinned by in-house calibration software which is available to the public ( and ).

The laboratory has a history of successful participation in international projects with partners from industry and academia. Within MMAMA the RF and Microwave lab will develop a shielded coaxial tip and it will serve as an open access and service point  for SMM technology. For the shielded coaxial tip the in-house workshops and the access to the clean room are important. For the open innovation environment METAS is ideally positioned with its existing business model.

Significant infrastructure / major items of technical equipment

The high frequency laboratory of METAS has a custom-built tuning-fork SMM operated with a Matlab-based control software which is also an in-house development. The SMM is equipped with piezo positioners with 200 um travel range and sub-nanometer resolution. To ensure a quiet environment the SMM is mounted on an active vibration isolation platform housed in an acoustic enclosure. 
Additionally the lab is equipped with high-end equipment for a broad range of high frequency applications and network analysis. Among other instruments there are: 4-port 67 GHz VNA with frequency extenders up to 110 GHz, 2-port 67 GHz VNA,  2-port 50 GHz VNA, 4-port VNA 50 GHz, several smaller VNAs and a 67 GHz spectrum analyzer with mixers up to 110 GHz. Auxilliary instruments like signal generators, oscilloscopes … are available.
The in-house mechanical and electronics workshop and the access to the cleanroom at EPFL will be crucial for the manufacturing of the coaxial tip. The measurement infrastructure in the RF and microwave lab is crucial for evaluating the performance of the tip. The open innovation environment will benefit from the existing environment of a national metrology institute which has the mission to provide services and consulting.

Main contact

Main publication related to the project

  •  Zeier, M., Hoffmann, J., et al Contemporary evaluation of measurement uncertainties in vector network analysis. tm - Technisches Messen (2017).
  • Buchter, A., et al. "Magnetization reversal of an individual exchange-biased permalloy nanotube." Physical Review B 92, 214432 (2015).
  • Kasper, M., Gramse, G., Hoffmann J., et al. (2014). Metal-oxide-semiconductor capacitors and Schottky diodes studied with scanning microwave microscopy at 18 GHz. Journal of Applied Physics, 116, 184301 (2014).
  • Hoffmann, Johannes, et al. "Measuring low loss dielectric substrates with scanning probe microscopes." Applied Physics Letters 105, 013102 (2014).
  • Hoffmann, Johannes, et al. "A calibration algorithm for nearfield scanning microwave microscopes." 12th IEEE Conference on Nanotechnology (IEEE-NANO), 2012. 

Key people involved

Dr. Johannes Hoffmann (male) is an electrical engineer with >10 years of experience in HF engineering and >5 years of experience in scanning probe microscopy. He holds a diploma in Telecommunications (ENST Paris), a diploma in electrical engineering (University of Stuttgart), and a PhD in electrical engineering (ETHZ). He built with the help of the RF and microwave lab the in-house SMM. He is responsible for giving scientific advice in the high frequency and electricity sector, planning and proposal of new experiments, troubleshooting of existing measurement stations. 

Dr. Arne Buchter (male) is a physicist with >5 years of experience in scanning probe and solid state physics. For his PhD (U Basel, 2015) he developed an ultrasensitive hybrid magnetometer combining a mechanical cantilever and a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID). To accomplish this, a large collaboration involving five partner institutes had to be coordinated. Previously he gained some experience on solar cells on textiles. At METAS he is responsible for development and operation of the custom-built SMM used within several European projects in the EMRP/EMPIR framework. He has 7 scientific publications with >130 overall citations (source: Google Scholar) and >5 international conference contributions.