A thin film multilayer device having a multilayer stack formation including an array of electrically conductive or optically transmissive nanolayers separated by insulating layers. The nanolayers have one end with nanometer size and spacing, and another end with macro-sized tab sections through which the array of nanolayers may be individually addressed from the macro regime. In this manner, a spatial field (including analytes present in the field) adjacent the nanoscale ends of the array may be directly sensed and/or controlled at the nanometer level. The thin film multilayer device may be fabricated, for example, using thin film deposition techniques. In one embodiment, a spatially manipulable slotted mask or masks is used to vary the spatial position of the tab sections while maintaining an overlap in other sections to form the stack. Upon stack formation, a cross-sectional surface is exposed, such as by cleaving, to reveal nanoscale edges of the nanolayer array separated by the insulating layers. The nanoscale edges act as finely spaced wires for use in moving, energizing, exciting, assembling, detecting, or otherwise sensing and/or controlling objects on or near the surface, for such example applications as real time imaging of cellular activity and controlled interactions betweens molecules.
 The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.