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Spring 2001



New Cleanroom Opens: Microchip Fab to be Required

In January, Virginia Tech began operating its new 1800 square-foot cleanroom and plans to make microchip fabrication experience a requirement for all EE and CPE undergraduates.

The new undergraduate teaching laboratory, in Whittemore Hall, can accommodate up to 500 undergraduates per year and is one of the country's largest such facilities for second- and third-year undergraduates. "As an undergraduate teaching facility, it is unprecedented," said Robert Hendricks, director of Tech's Center for Microelectronics, Optoelectronics, and Nanotechnology (MicrON). "Most university clean rooms are available to seniors and graduate students only," he explained.

The cleanroom was built to ISO Class 7 (Class 10,000) standards, but is operated at ISO Class 6 (Class 1,000) standards in order to give students experience in the more stringent protocols.

"We have developed an introductory microchip fabrication laboratory in which students process 4-inch wafers to create working nMOSFETs and other devices." Plans are for the course to be required of all EE, CPE, MSE, and physics students. "No other school in the country exposes as many students to the process as we will," Hendricks said.

The goal is to introduce the concepts of microchip fabrication in the sophomore year and then develop a 15-credit-hour-option, or minor, in microelectronics engineering. The cleanroom and curriculum are part of a major restructuring and expansion of the university's education and research capabilities in microelectronics.

The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Virginia Tech

Last Updated, July 25, 2001
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