Popular undergraduate semiconductor Fab Lab moving to MNTL
The ECE 444 Fabrication Lab, a staple of Everitt Lab since 1965, will be receiving a new home this June. The facility, affectionately called the Fab Lab, is currently in the process of being moved to a new space in the Micro + Nanotechnology Lab (MNTL).
The Fab Lab is used primarily to teach undergraduates enrolled in the Theory & Fabrication of Integrated Circuits course how to make semiconductor devices. Fab Lab Coordinator Dane Joseph Sievers said the course is unique in that students are able to work through each step of the IC fabrication process themselves to get a solid foundation in how the theoretical material can be applied.
“This lab ties in the with semiconductor physics course to verify that the physics works, and it does,” Sievers said. “What differentiates us from other places is that the students don’t hand off their work at any point. They do all the processes themselves.”
One of the premier university-based research facilities for conducting photonics, microelectronics, biotechnology, and nanotechnology research, MNTL welcomes the addition of the ECE 444 Fab Lab. “Bringing the Fab Lab to MNTL strengthens our training mission,” said MNTL Director Brian Cunningham. “Having one of the oldest and best undergraduate hands-on instructional facilities for microelectronics fabrication under our roof will provide our students with a learning experience that uniquely prepares them for graduate research or careers in the semiconductor industry.”
Another advantage to having the Fab Lab in MNTL, said Cunningham, is the ability to showcase the ECE department’s strength in semiconductors to all prospective students, their parents, and other visitors who tour the campus. “At the same time, students taking ECE444 will become more knowledgeable about the world-class research taking place in the MNTL cleanrooms, located directly next door. It is our hope that ECE444 students will aspire towards utilizing the advanced research tools after they complete the course.”
After the ECE department made the move to the new ECE building in 2014, Sievers said that the original plan was to keep the Fab Lab where it was. However, Everitt Lab is being completely remodeled in preparation for the new home of the bioengineering department, which made it impossible to keep the Fab Lab there.
This put Sievers and course director Xiuling Li in a difficult position because they had to find an appropriate home for the facility.
“I spent a tremendous amount of time to figure out the most cost effective, sensible and intuitive place to relocate,” Sievers said. “It turns out that MNTL is the place to be. It took a lot of ingenuity to get in there.”
Construction on the new space is well under way and equipment is expected to be moved into the MNTL space shortly. The scheduled date of complete is June 15 with classes set to resume in the fall.
“This move has opened a lot of new potential and a lot of new interaction,” Sievers said. “We are progressing into a better space.”