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An Undergraduate Microchip Fabrication Facility

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.189.1 - 6.189.12

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Paper Authors

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Robert Hendricks

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1332

An Undergraduate Microchip Fabrication Facility† Robert W. Hendricks Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


A microchip fabrication facility for teaching the elements of semiconductor processing to a multidisciplinary cohort of about 500 students per year from all areas of engineering, science, and even the humanities is described. The laboratory comprises an approximately 1,800 ft 2, Class 10,000 cleanroom with house vacuum, distributed process gases (Ar, O2 and N2), and an 18.3 MΩ de-ionized water system. It has been equipped with an oxidation module, two diffusion modules (n- and p-type), a photolithography module, a physical vapor deposition (PVD) module, a wet development station, a wet etch station, two wafer test modules, optical microscopes, and a thin film characterization system. A four-mask process from which resistors, operating p-n junctions, enhancement mode n-MOSFETs, and some simple circuits are created on 4-inch (100 mm), p-type wafers using 100 µm rules has been created. A laboratory information management system (LIMS) is being developed in order to operate as a completely paperless facility. In addition to learning the basic unit operations of microchip fabrication, students are taught safety and cleanroom protocols that are rigorously followed. Although designed and built to Class 10,000 cleanroom standards, with strong support from the Virginia semiconductor industry, the facility is operated as if it were a Class 1000 facility in order to prepare students for the mindset necessary to successfully work in both our advanced research facility and in the semiconductor industry where they co-op and seek employment.

I. Introduction Many universities have built excellent facilities for training students for either microelectronics research or employment in the semiconductor industry. Most of these have been designed for advanced undergraduates or graduate students who have had prerequisite courses in semiconductor physics and/or devices. They are equipped with advanced processing tools, often donated by industry, that are capable of working at a resolution of a few microns or below. Virginia Tech is also building such a facility. However, because we were under severe pressure to reduce our required undergraduate curriculum by about eight credit hours, we also sought to replace our standard six credit hours of courses in solid state physics and semiconductor processing that were required of all computer engineering (CpE), electrical engineering (EE), and materials science and engineering (MSE) students with something that was both less intensive but also more interesting and relevant to this wide range of students. We determined that a required entry level laboratory course in which students would build simple devices, and perhaps even elementary circuits, would meet our needs and could perhaps even excite students about participating in our new option or minor in microelectronics, optoelectronics, and nanotechnology. 1

† A version of this manuscript with gray-scale images suitable for color vision-impaired readers may be found at

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Hendricks, R. (2001, June), An Undergraduate Microchip Fabrication Facility Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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