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Virtual Reality Simulation and Experiment for Sputter Deposition and Vacuum Training

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

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Paper Authors


Paul Weber Utah Valley University

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Paul is an associate professor at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. Originally from Minnesota (B.S., Bemidji State University) he completed his doctorate in experimental particle physics at CU Boulder, After working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and at CERN for many years he switched over to teaching at the small college and university level. At UVU, he has worked with thin film deposition and has put together a photolithography lab before joining an effort with three other faculty members to create an introductory nanotechnology course as part of an NSF-ATE grant.

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Afsaneh Minaie Utah Valley University

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Afsaneh Minaie is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Chair of Engineering Department at Utah Valley University. She received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. all in Electrical Engineering from University of Oklahoma. Her research interests include gender issues in the academic sciences and engineering fields, Embedded Systems Design, Mobile Computing, Wireless Sensor Networks, Nanotechnology, Data Mining and Databases.

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Anh Phan Utah Valley University

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We have developed a simulation and laboratory exercise for an introductory nanotechnology course, that teaches students the method of RF sputter deposition for coating both metals and dielectric materials onto silicon wafers. Since the sputter system involves the rather complex structure of two-stage vacuum system including a diffusion pump, we have created a virtual reality (VR) simulation that reproduces the operating sequence of the system with high fidelity. As part of the laboratory we require students to perform the entire sequence of operation through the simulation, including the correct protocols for the pumping sequence as well as operation of the RF system, before they use the equipment for a real experiment. As a result the students feel more confident with the system when they actually encounter it and are much less likely to make mistakes which could damage the equipment. After sufficient training with the VR simulation the students complete a laboratory which requires them to complete fabrication of thin coatings of gold and of silicon dioxide, and to determine the thickness of the deposited films using profilometry and optical methods.

Sputter deposition methods, as well as two stage vacuum systems are ubiquitous in research and industry, and proper training in their use is essential for all students wanting to work in cleanroom and nanofabrication facilities. We discuss the details of the laboratory and the sputter deposition steps as well as to show results obtained by students who completed the exercises. We discuss the strengths that a virtual reality exercise brings to this laboratory, as well as challenges faced in the construction of our system, and student comments on the effectiveness of the exercise.

Weber, P., & Minaie, A., & Phan, A. (2020, June), Virtual Reality Simulation and Experiment for Sputter Deposition and Vacuum Training Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35488

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