In my interview with Kevin Hennessey from the California Nanoscience Institute here at UCSB, he explained about the research of compound semi-conductors. His work is engrossed in Nanoelectronics which involves the exploitation of quantum behavior in nano-scale systems. Compound semi-conductors differ from the traditional silicone based devices and offer superiority. (Hennessey Interview) Development of compound semi-conductors requires the use of technologies on nano-level, one billionth of a meter. "Scientists and companies are envisioning dramatic advancements in the functionality and properties of materials, including improved strength and durability. Nanoelectronics, involved quantum effect electronics, is an electronics technology that seeks to build smaller and more densely-integrated circuits. Current Nanoelectronics research is focused on semiconductor structures and devices." (Kailkhura, Online "02) This field is helped by the innovation of technologies that allow imaging at the molecular level such atomic force microscopy or AFM and molecular beam epitaxy, or MBE. MBE is so precise that it can lay a single row of atoms. The quality of MBE grown material leads to superior transistors, for every characteristic of a transistor you want to improve, speed, efficiency, power. (Hennessey Interview).
Molecular beam epitaxy is a method of laying down layers of materials with atomic thicknesses on to substrates. This is done by creating a 'molecular beam' of a material which impinges on to the substrate. The resulting 'superlattices' have a number of technologically important uses including Quantum well lasers for semi conducting systems. (Pinna, Online "03) MBE is actually a more complicated process as there is an involvement of cleaning and smoothing of the substrate. Also MBE is not only used in nano devices but in larger devices as well. (Hennessey Interview).
AFM or atomic force microscopy is a method of surface speculation with near atomic resolution.