Author Archives: ScanTech Technical Consulting

Fabrication Engineering at the Micro- and Nanoscale

Fabrication Engineering at the Micro- and Nanoscale 4th Edition by Stephen A. Campbell

Fabrication Engineering

ISBN 0199861226 –  688 pages   $100.00 on Amazon  Published: Oxford University Press November 2012

While the title of the book may sound generalized to making nanomaterials, it focuses primarily on the semiconductor industry and the involved techniques and tools required to build a reliable integrated circuit.

In this arena, it is an excellent primer as it contains a logical division of chapters, explains numerous concepts using both photographs, illustrations and math calculations, and even has some simple code for use in Silvaco’s ATHENA in order to perform analysis and automate simulations.

A number of the areas covered such as ion implantation, wet etching, vacuum science, etc. give a strong grounding for researchers who wish to fabricate devices along the lines of traditional processing equipment and explains the physics behind these tools. Furthermore, I would consider it required reading and/or a reference for professors and students who utilize a cleanroom in order to make devices at these size regimes.

But be aware that most any of the topics discussed in this text has enough breadth and depth to where any one chapter could be expanded into a book in it’s own right.  Furthermore, the sophistication and complexity of certain ideas could have benefited from additional clarity as this is a tough subject to follow without either the guidance of a professor who has worked in the industry, or a strong grasp of material science. This was taught as an undergraduate Electrical Engineering elective at my university and I found that a lot of EE students have difficulty understanding how chemical and/or mechanical factors influence the performance of an electrical device.

Finally, I found the end chapter questions unusually difficult as checking your answers with any confidence was daunting without a good solutions manual to help point the way. What surprised me is that this class (at the time I was taking it) did not officially count towards any nanoscience elective. Also, this book borrows very heavily from Richard Jaeger’s book:

Introduction to Microelectronic Fabrication: Volume 5 of Modular Series on Solid State Devices (2nd Edition) Published 2001

Building Scientific Apparatus: Fourth Edition

Building Scientific Apparatus: Fourth Edition

John H. Moore, Christopher C. Davis, Michael A. Coplan ; with a chapter by Sandra C. Greer. ; Cambridge University Press 2009 WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Scientific Equipment

Building Scientific Apparatus: Fourth Edition

ISBN 978052187858 –  658 pages   $67.94 on Amazon  Published 2009

This is one of the most amazing practical laboratory texts that I have come across in long time. A must have for every mad scientist, hands on professor or grad student that is in charge of hardware, this book has both great breadth and depth. Subjects covered are everything from vacuum technology to lasers, optics, glassblowing, electrostatic lenses, electronic circuits and the literal nuts and bolts that put everything together.

There are formulas, graphs, concepts and detailed illustrations throughout and interestingly no photos. But the cleaner lines of draftsman style drawings are actually more helpful in reinforcing clarity and focusing on the essentials such as dimensions and angles and conceptual application.

The only wish list items might be supplying specific example projects with a components list such as building an SEM or STM on a budget and perhaps a chapter on software besides SPICE. Of course then the authors would easily run the risk of increasing the book size to gigantic proportions while supplying information that would get dated too quickly, and be almost unavoidably vendor biased.

Still, any serious lab rat or R&D nanotechnology equipment expert should have this on their shelf. An additional, more subtle advantage of this text is how well it ties mathematical theory with real world design and implementation. If you are struggling with certain key aspects of electrical engineering, for example, this may assist with comprehension by focusing on the core concepts and nailing down the application to real-world considerations.

Industrial Plasma Engineering Volume I: Principles – Book Review

Industrial plasma engineering

Industrial plasma engineeringJ. Reece Roth; Institute of Physics Pub. 1995WorldCatRead OnlineLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

I rank plasma science up there with biochemistry as one of the tougher subjects in the STEM fields to understand, and this book is the standard text for Plasma Technology at my university. It is well organized and thorough enough for all but the hardest core researchers, but is accessible enough for science undergrads to grasp and appreciate the many varieties and applications of plasma.

Illustrations of theoretical concepts and real-life industrial devices abound, there are numerous tables and graphs which make this a near reference grade resource, while the equations are well explained and documented in the context of the conceptual explanations.

But I would caution against just casually picking up this publication, or just handing it to someone and expecting them to understand the subject material by simply reading it cover to cover. At the least you need the guided structure of a class, or some easier to read supplementary material to help bridge the “Eureka!” gap as I call it if you want to take full advantage of the information within. That or you had better be VERY good with math and physics, particularly in the realm of electromagnetics.

Be aware that there is a 2nd Volume: Applications To Non-Thermal Plasma Processing, which is a continuation of this topic, but with a different emphasis.

ISBN 0750303174  –  339 pages  $60 on Amazon   Published January 1995

Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction – 7th Edition

Callister Materials Science

Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering 7th EditionCallister; John Wiley 2007WorldCatRead OnlineLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

This is an excellent undergrad textbook that is logically organized and thorough in the coverage of the properties and mechanics of various materials, from ceramics to metals and polymers. Diagrams and graphs are clear and plentiful, the equations are surprisingly simple but sufficient to understand and work with the subject material and the text has a good flow with key words, definitions and concepts highlighted appropriately.

The author has done an excellent job of breaking down some high level concepts and creating interest in the subject by illustrating key points with relevant examples. (both mathematically and anecdotally) Please note that the latest edition of this book (9th Edition Published Dec 2013) has won the Amazon Favorite Books of 2014 award. The only slight detraction is that if you want a more thorough understanding of metallurgy, I have another text that goes into greater detail than this volume. (though having both is best)

However, for a book of this caliber that sells for under $15 “Used” on Amazon, it is a great deal.

ISBN: 0471736961   832 pages   $30 from Amazon  Published: Wiley February 17, 2006

Foundations of Materials Science and Engineering

Foundations of Materials Science and Engineering 4th EditionWilliam F. Smith; McGraw-Hill 2005WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Metallurgical Reference Book

ISBN: 0072953586     1032 pages    $100+ on Amazon (NEW) Published   2005 McGraw-Hill

This is the text I was alluding to in my review of McAllister’s Materials Science text in terms of a good supplementary text for metallurgy. While not quite as conceptually clear overall as McAllister’s and a bit lacking in specialty sub-topics such as biomaterials, corrosion, etc. it really does a better job in terms of being a more detailed guide to metals and alloys than the McAllister book.

McAllister is great at introducing the overall 50,000 foot view of how metals work at the nano, micro and macroscale, but Foundations has specific chapters devoted to steels, aluminum, and other non-ferrous alloys along with more detailed information on manufacturing methods and industrial processes.

For the beginning material scientist with a strong interest in metals, I recommend both texts and you can get both used for well under $50.

Metallurgical Consulting & Analysis Services

Through my company ScanTech Technical Consulting, I now offer research and consulting on metals and metal composite materials including ferrous, (steels such as mild/tool/stainless) non-ferrous (copper, aluminum) and alloys (brass, bronze) for magnetic shielding properties, corrosion / electrical characteristics, and product design / tooling.

Also, I consult on appropriate biomaterials, metamaterials and other specialized / exotic applications which make use of the latest developments in nanoscience.

Energy Harvesting for Autonomous Systems

Energy Harvesting for Autonomous Systems by Stephen Beeby, Neil White

Energy Harvesting Microbatteries Supercapacitors

Energy Harvesting for Autonomous Systems

ISBN 1596937181 –  292 pages  $120 on Amazon  Published June 30, 2010

While on the surface this book may not seem directly related to nanotechnology, a number of the chapters discuss photovoltaic cells, MEMS piezoelectric / electrostatic generators and related refinements (such as textured anti-reflective Si surfaces and organic polymer PV cells) that do fall in the nanoscale regime.

This text does several things well: it compares and covers a number of different types of energy scavenging, illustrations of and helpful reference tables are fairly abundant, and there are enough formulas present to help anchor the relevant math to practical applications.

Furthermore, the end chapters deal a lot in the interface electronics and energy storage mediums such as microbatteries and supercapacitors so that reading the text can help outline an entire research project or product idea.

But the book does have some nagging detractions:

1) The material seems a little too thin in parts. (scaling it up by 2 or 3 times could make it an excellent reference bible)

2) With a little more effort the included formulas and math would be much easier to follow if the constants used were clearly explained in a small sidebar or table instead of having to decode the symbology by constantly referring back to the expository text which is often BOTH above and below said formula. This is very irritating as you have to move your eyes in all directions around the equation without knowing where to expect the explanation of “C sub f ” followed by another hidden object game.

As Western readers, we are used to a smoother linear flow from left to right and up to down. Some may claim you should already know what Qgs means, but the book spans topics from thermodynamics to semiconductor physics and as engineers/physicists, etc. we are all painfully aware of how “overloaded” and cross-translational some math symbology already is.

To be really innovative, I would like to have seen more of the formulas COMBINED with the illustrations so as to better anchor intuitive and visual understanding of the math.

3) Not surprisingly, a lot of the applications are geared towards wireless sensor networks. I would like to have seen some broader visions than just this, but it is not hard to translate the concepts across. Finally, the book only mentions microcontrollers in passing – some stronger information than two paragraphs on Texas Instruments MSP430 could have been warranted, but it is easy to see how a publication can lose focus if it tries to cover every aspect in detail.

But one thing I learned is that up until very recently, there have hardly been any texts at all dedicated to energy harvesting. Most of the material is scattered across publications and conference proceedings and it is really nice to see a resource that puts a lot together at your fingertips.

The strongest thing about this book is that it does not only help develop some intuition for the expectations and limitations of different harvesting approaches, but it also builds the bridge concepts to extrapolating the technology to the macro real world. As it stands, it could be a decent starting text for a single semester class in Energy Harvesting, but some supplementary information would almost certainly be required – particularly if taught at the grad level.

Biomaterials: An Introduction

Biomaterials: An IntroductionJoon Bu Park; Springer 2007WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Biomaterials: An Introduction

Biomaterials: An Introduction

ISBN 0387378790 –  562 pages   $109 on Amazon  Published August 2007

This is a text that could be best characterized as sharing aspects between the detailed reference manual / phone book that Biomaterials Science by Ratner represents, while still having some linear focus on progressive fundamentals as exemplified in the superb text Introduction to Biomaterials by Agrawal.

It excels at having numerous illustrations and images while possessing some rather unique and informative tables and figures that underscore important concepts in this field. The math isn’t terribly difficult and in addition I also noticed numerous worked examples which is something I feel more engineering books should work on.

For an undergrad class, this is probably more of a supplementary text as the density of information will tend to dissuade younger, less persistent students. For a grad class, the age of the book being greater than 8 years may be seen as a detraction compared to a recent cutting edge text.

While I love new texts on science, I have often found relatively obscure knowledge in older books and have learned to appreciate their place on my shelf.

Introduction to Biomaterials: Basic Theory with Engineering Applications

Introduction to Biomaterials: Basic Theory with Engineering Applications by C. Mauli Agrawal, Joo L. Ong, Mark R. Appleford and Gopinath Mani

Introduction to Biomaterials: Basic Theory with Engineering Applications

Introduction to Biomaterials: Basic Theory with Engineering Applications

ISBN 0521116902 –  419 pages  $72 on Amazon              Published December 16, 2013 Cambridge University Press

This was one of the books for my Biomaterials class and it is one of the best undergrad level texts I have reviewed in a long time. The unanimous 5 star reviews on Amazon so far appear to show agreement from other students and reviewers.

The overall organization, balance and layout of the information is close to perfect, though I probably would have rearranged the chapter sequence slightly which is a small quibble. It is relatively easy to read given the concepts presented, but a previous education in materials science, organic chemistry and human / cell physiology is very helpful for putting it all together.

There is an abundance of well-done illustrations, photos, tables and diagrams which make this complex and interdisciplinary subject very accessible and this is the sort of text I wish I had as a kid. What is particularly strong and useful about this text is that they not only walk the reader through the fundamentals, but also cover a number of adjacent subjects such as characterization, surface modification, biological systems, implant sterilization, and even natural biomaterials such as collagen, alginate, silk and coral.

As for the math, there are some formulas given, and while there are other books devoted to materials science, I wish this book had gone into more detail and had back of the envelope worked examples that more fully explored the numbers behind mechanical and chemical properties. But then again, the very title of this book states that it is only a basic theory book and focuses more on applications, so it delivers what it says and very well at that.

Cutting edge topics such as tissue engineering and the role of 3D printers is also touched on, so on the whole, you get a lot for a sub-$100 book.

Nanotechnology / Scientific Paper & Publication Proofreading and Review Services

Joel-Anthony Gray - Nanotechnology Writer

Joel-Anthony Gray – Nanotechnology Writer


If you work or do research in nanoscience / nanotechnology, do you have a scientific paper, publication, important sales pitch, resume, PowerPoint, report, article or even a book that requires proofreading for clarity, proper English, accuracy and effective presentation? Do you have a published science book that you feel deserves a review so as to enlighten readers in what to expect and how it may meet their needs?

I have years of experience in technical writing, a strong interdisciplinary work and educational background in most major areas of science and scientific applications including biology, chemistry, physics, semiconductor failure analysis, microscopy, electromagnetic / biomedical consulting, electrical engineering and nanoscience and possess an expert command of the English language.

Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube - Transmission Electron Microscope

Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube – Transmission Electron Microscope (Copyright – Joel-Anthony Gray)

Over the years of working in industry and academia, I have sat in on multiple defense thesis, written high level engineering reports, listened to presentations at numerous nanotechnology conferences and I now review papers, reference materials and textbooks in the course of my consulting business.

In these presentations, I OFTEN find significant typos, poor formatting and concepts presented in an unclear or even inaccurate fashion. Mistakes and stylistic choices will reflect your scientific competence and image to the audience, and can significantly undermine your goals to advance your research and even your career.

And these are all easily preventable issues, so it is well worth taking the trouble to have an expert sounding board who can rapidly find and point out areas of potential confusion and make suggestions to create a stronger and positive impression on the reader.

An example of my writing is below:

Scientific Paper Review by Joel-Anthony Gray (not my original research)

Scientific Paper Review by Joel-Anthony Gray (not my original research) – click the link below to download the full PDF version

Scientific Paper Review Nanoscience Joel-Anthony Gray

Furthermore, almost everyone uses Powerpoint, and there are some very common issues that I see repeatedly such as:

  1. Using too small of a text font for the audience to see
  2. Overcrowded text and graphics
  3. Poor color contrast between the text and the background making it hard to read
  4. Misspellings again (Yikes!)

I also have a background in vector / bitmap image editing, graphics, photography, video production, screenwriting, computer generated animation, movie production and website design so I am very qualified to review a visual presentation at several levels.

If you would like to get in touch regarding my services in scientific publication / technical sales proofreading, have suggestions for nanoscience books, wish to submit a review copy of a book on nanotechnolgy or a related field, or have some nanotechnology quiz feedback, you can contact me via the form below:


For a further list of my credentials, feel free visit my LinkedIn account at: