Masdar Institute hits chip milestone
UAE research institute etches silicon wafer for first time
The UAE's Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has successfully etched a silicon wafer, a first for the Emirates.
Staff at the graduate research university's Masdar Institute Fabrication Facility were able to etch the wafer, using a process used to create micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS).
The facility utilised Deep Reactive Ion Etching (DRIE) to chemically remove layers from the surface of a wafer. DRIE is used to create MEMS, very small machines, just above nanotechnology scale, which typically consist of a central processor and several components that interact with the outside such as microsensors.
The process was developed for making high-density capacitors for direct random access memory (DRAM) and more recently is used in the creation of advanced 3D wafer level packaging technology.
MEMS can be found in a wide range of applications and devices, such as smartphones, tablets, game controllers, notebooks, digital cameras and health/fitness apps. One particular growth area is in healthcare applications with bioMEMS, that can monitor bio processes.
Dr Fred Moavenzade, president of the institute said: "The technology feat established by our Fabrication Facility reflects the cutting-edge facilities available with Masdar Institute to drive scientific innovation. This silicon etching means a world class research facility is now available in Abu Dhabi with some of the brightest faculty and researchers from around the world to work with Emirati and international students. The wise leadership of the UAE continues to support our research activities and we are confident Masdar Institute will achieve many more milestones in advanced and sustainable technology areas."
Dr Ibrahim Elfadel, Professor - Microsystems Engineering, who is leading a multi-program project on three-dimensional microelectronic circuit integration added: "This step taken by Masdar Institute's Micro Fabrication staff in successfully commissioning and testing the DRIE tool, materials, and process in Masdar Institute's own clean room is very significant. The hands-on learning will have direct bearing on several programs at the Institute, such as Microsystems Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering programs. It will also provide students and faculty involved in semiconductor research and manufacturing first-hand knowledge of the etching process. Masdar Institute's research projects which benefit from such first-hand knowledge include on-going work on advanced semiconductor devices, MEMS, 3D integration, and photonics."