ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

Semiconductor Processing Lab Dedicated

Photograph of Tim Kaine cutting the ribbon

ECE's new Micron Semiconductor Processing Laboratory was officially dedicated this past fall. Shown here, (from left) Pat Otte, site director for Micron Technology Virginia, Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine, and Virginia Tech President Charles Steger join to cut the ribbon, while ECE researchers look on.

ECE opened its new Micron Technology Semiconductor Processing Laboratory this fall, at a special ribbon-cutting ceremony with Virginia’s Governor Timothy Kaine.

The Class 1,000/10,000 clean-room laboratory is the latest of the new facilities operated by Virginia Tech’s multidisciplinary Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Nanotechnology (MicrON) Group.

The laboratory occupies 1800 square feet in Whittemore Hall and builds on a teaching laboratory that opened in 2001. New or improved capabilities include state-of-the-art photolithography, wet processing, dry etching (RIE/DRIE), chemical vapor deposition, and metallization. This gives Virginia Tech researchers on-site capabilities to produce cutting-edge prototypes for nano-structured biological and chemical sensors, organic and molecular nanoelectronics, solid-state lighting devices, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) for sensing and communications, microfluidics for on-chip biological assays and cooling of high-power electronic circuits, and advanced chip-level packaging strategies.

The research and teaching laboratory is named for Micron Technology, in recognition of the firm’s $750,000 gift that provided the final funds that allowed the laboratory’s completion. Micron Technology, based in Boise, Idaho, is the world’s largest provider of advanced memory and imaging semiconductor solutions.

Total cost of the research renovation of the laboratory exceeds $3 million and sponsors included the Pratt Foundation, the Virginia Tech Foundation, ICTAS, the Office of the Provost, the ECE department, and various research contracts.

The laboratory supports research and teaching efforts and is expected to become a cornerstone of Tech’s microelectronic engineering minor. ECE’s Semiconductor Processing course is taught in the laboratory and the microelectronic curriculum is being optimized to focus on hands-on research opportunities to supplement traditional lecture courses, according to Robert Hendricks, who developed the laboratory course.

The cleanroom joins several other of Tech’s MicrON Group facilities: a metal-organic chemical vapor depositions (MOCVD) laboratory, an electronic/optoelectronic materials laboratory, and a device characterization laboratory. An electronic packaging laboratory is also available.

The MicrON research group involves more than 10 faculty members in four departments. ECE MicrON faculty members are Masoud Agah, Kathleen Meehan, Sanjay Raman, and Louis Guido and G.Q. Lu, who also hold appointments in materials science engineering (MSE). Other faculty members include Scott Huxtable (ME), Hans Robinson (physics), Jean Heremanns (physics) and Carlos Suchicital (MSE). The group is currently seeking a senior faculty member to serve as the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium (VMEC) chair.