Proposal Writing Support

Click here for the Preliminary Data Seed Fund application.

Click here for Nanofab Equipment List

Contact Brian Baker or Brian Van Devener (see contact page) for Facilities & Equipment, Data Management, Management Plan.

Click here for images and descriptions of specific cleanroom tools

Click here for images of the building, surface lab instruments, some representative research images

How to cite the lab in your publications

Insert a slide into your research presentations to introduce the Utah Nanofab Utah Nanofab Overview Slide 2016

Please review billing rates when constructing your proposal budget.

Click here for resources to assist in proposal budgeting and project burn rate monitoring

Lab Description Copy (for use in the proposal body)

Also see “Overview” page

The Utah Nanofab comprises both cleanroom fabrication and surface analysis and analytical microscopy as interdisciplinary facilities supporting innovative education, research, and technology transfer.  Located in the Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology building (SMBB) at the University of Utah, the cleanroom facilities (completed in 2015) provide the clean environment, specialized materials handling, professional expertise and equipment necessary for micromachining, microfabrication, and nano-scale semiconductor materials & device research.  The Surface Analysis Lab complements these functions with the ability to image both surface and structure, and analyze elemental and chemical properties of surfaces from the centimeter (cm) scale to the nanometer (nm) scale.

Our facility includes 13 administrative and professional staff, a highly specialized infrastructure (~18,000 sf clean facility + ~6,000 sf microscopy) and instrumentation portfolio together totaling roughly $45 Mil investment into common-use labs. The purpose of the Nanofab is to serve as a direct extension of the lab facilities belonging to local and regional researchers and businesses, so that the shared specialized resources are more effectively used, so that these capabilities make our local and regional interests more competitive, and so that operational costs may be distributed.

The teaching laboratories strengthen undergraduate microfabrication curricula and train graduate students from across the University of Utah campus in the fundamentals of micromachining, microsystems design and characterization, microsensors and actuators, microfluidics and microelectronic devices.

The research laboratories offer an extensive array of process equipment with advanced capabilities in pattern generation , photolithography, thin film deposition and etch.  Characterization capabilities inside the cleanroom include optical and electron microscopy, wafer bow measurement, profilometry, optical constant and dielectric property measurement, sheet resistance and general purpose probe stations and measurement tools.

Analytical imaging instruments include an alphabet-soup of techniques

  • optical microscopy;
  • environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM-FEG with x-ray microanalysis and grain orientation imaging (EDS/EBSD), particle analysis and image mosaic stitching);
  • scanning/transmission electron microscopy (S/TEM) for structure analysis at angstrom resolution and ultrafast (simultaneous) elemental analysis with nm resolution by EDS.  All of this with 3D tomography capability.  Wet and dry cell imaging of dynamic liquid (including electrochemistry) and gas-phase experiments is also available;
  • Focused ion beam microscopy (Ga ion column FIB) makes possible both imaging experiments with 5-10nm resolution, but more importantly provides the ability to create 50nm-sized features by direct sputter machining, both by additive (C, W, Pt) and by subtractive processes. The dual-beam instrument makes possible 3D “breadloaf” tomographic imaging of material volumes in the range of 5um x 5um x 5um.  Materials imaged include 3D-structured devices made in the Nanofab cleanroom, complex material stacks, bio materials, insect organs and geologic materials (e.g., nanoporosity in shales).  THe instrument is commonly used to create samples from specific volumes used in S/TEM imaging;
  • X-Ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), Ion scattering spectroscopy (ISS) and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS) all provide means to interrogate the surface chemical bonding and oxidation states, in the top few monolayers of a material, in order to understand catalytic effects, oxidation and corrosion, and to quantify or map heterogeneous chemical distributions or correlate with surface properties such as de-lamination;
  • other techniques: X-Ray fluorescence (XRF mapping, not quantitative), Atomic force microscopy (AFM), spectroscopic ellipsometry, non-contact profilometry by white light interferometry

Researchers from the School of Medicine and Colleges of Engineering, Science, Pharmacy and Earth Sciences collaborate in research and development of biological and chemical sensing micro arrays based on nanotechnology.  Researchers are developing micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) including neuroprosthetics, bio-implantable devices, optical microfluidic functions, harsh environment sensors, and micro power sources such as fuel cells and solar cells.

These laboratories support the University of Utah mission to stimulate and grow the economy in the State of Utah by innovating and transferring developed technologies into the private sector.  The labs support and enable many industry and university collaborations.

Additional descriptive text block for potential inclusion in grant writing

Overview:The field of micro and nanotechnology has developed rapidly over the past two decades and it is now common for research facilities across the world to have many of the basic components of a nanofabrication facility, such as standard photolithography, thin-film deposition, etching, and characterization tools. Even as these tools have become more common, their cost, maintenance, and facility requirements have ensured that they remain in specialized, central facilities where users in both academia and industry can access them at reasonable costs. The University of Utah Nanofab has been a major beneficiary and contributor to this development and comprises the largest (combined cleanroom and microscopy) nanotechnology research user facility in the intermountain West, comprising Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon and Montana.  In 2016 the Utah Nanofab hosted the four-day international conference of peer research cleanroom administrators (UGIM-16, University, Government, Industry micro/nano Symposium), attended by 200 + user facility managers and staff from 13 countries and 33 US states.

Challenges: Small- and medium-sized companies face significant problems in product R&D.

Micro and nanotechnology product development is extremely costly due to capital-intensive equipment and associated infrastructure, expertise, and instrumentation. The Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR), which built the University of Utah Nanofab facility, envisioned a centralized purpose-built facility in Utah, where these costs could be distributed and shared, to make local and regional manufacturing entities more competitive.

Micro- and nano-scale manufacturing businesses require personnel with highly specific and advanced skill-sets to succeed.

Nanofab Research and Expertise Strengths Our researchers and staff are amongst the world leaders in nanotechnology, nanofabrication, nano-scale manufacturing, and the application of these technologies to neural prosthetics, biomedical microfluidic systems, and biosensor chips. In addition, the University of Utah Nanofab already has a very strong track-record of working with small- and medium-sized micro- and nano-scale manufacturing companies in Utah. The University of Utah Nanofab invoiced $660k during FY12-15 from 80 off-campus entities, mostly small- to medium-sized manufacturing businesses.

IM Flash, a world-leading flash memory supplier, is located 30 miles south of the University of Utah. IM Flash employs 1,600 people in a $5B facility that is currently being expanded, and hires over 50 engineers each year, needing 100s more to complete their expansion plans. These engineering hires are sourced from small- and medium-sized businesses with employees that have the required skill-set, and as new college grads from engineering programs around the United States, including that of the University of Utah. Other Utah companies such as Merit Sensors, Moxtek, Blackrock Microsystems, Wasatch Microfluidics, Sylarus, and HzO also require trained nanotechnologists. The University of Utah Nanofab has a very strong track record of interacting with, and supporting the advancement of these industries in both fabrication and characterization.

Facilities Strengths: The University of Utah Nanofab is housed in aclass 100/1,000/10,000 (ISO 4/5/6) cleanroom, which also offers packaging, microfluidics and electrical testing areas. The Figure below shows a picture inside the 18,000 ft2 facility, of which 7,500 ft2 is filtered. The clean room contains equipment for deposition, mask manufacturing, photolithography (including submicron features), and etch equipment, in addition to a host of specialized tools. The facility provides the infrastructure, equipment, processes, and expertise necessary for researchers and companies to design, build, and package revolutionary micro- and nano-scale devices. Capabilities include device modeling, design layout, mask fabrication, thin film deposition, patterning, packaging and testing. The facility and staff serves researchers and companies from the campus and beyond, including faculty and researchers from regional institutions as well as companies who use the facilities to generate proof-of-concept and data supporting new product ideas.

Expert cleanroom staff provide process and architecture mentoring and direct training support.  Three other individuals are focused on infrastructure, system maintenance, and safety systems. The staff on the cleanroom side cumulatively represents 60 years of semiconductor industry experience, with degrees in materials, mechanical, electrical, manufacturing engineering, and statistics.

Services offered:The following presents a brief overview of the available tools, resources, and processes, and how they are used to serve a broad cross-section of users.

Lithography and patterning: Optical and electron-beam lithography for top-down nano-scale pattern generation are critical capabilities for micro- and nano-scale manufacturing. The foundations of our lithography tools are the strict environmental constraints to limit vibration, control temperature and humidity, and provide repeatable processing of photoresists enabled by our purpose-built cleanroom facility. We operate two Heidelberg PG 101 laser writer systems. These are optimized for smaller features (0.9 um) with lower throughput, and larger features (2.5 um) with higher write speeds. These tools are capable of traditional mask generation, but are also set-up for direct-write to substrates and gray-scale lithography. The direct-write capabilities offer advantages for exploring design variations and prototyping, and can help alleviate mask contamination issues associated with contact lithography. Front-side and back-side contact aligners, vapor-prime ovens, precision spinners, hot plates, ovens, and chemistry are available. These tools and processes are designed with compatibility to traditional substrates (e.g. 4-6″ silicon wafers) and also non-traditional substrates such as pieces, ceramics, glass, polymeric substrates, etc.

E-beam lithography (EBL)is currently available through a Nabity system integrated on our FEI Helios 650i dbFIB. The focused ion beam (FIB) includes the ultrahigh-resolution Magellan column, which allows precise energy and dose control, immersion lens, and also incorporates the piezo-actuated stage. We regularly achieve 40 nm resolution features. These patterning capabilities are currently used extensively for optics, development of revolutionary neural interfaces, as well as traditional S/TEM sample preparation by lift-out.

Film deposition:Advanced physical vapor deposition (PVD), chemical vapor deposition (CVD), and atomic layer deposition (ALD) capabilities are core competencies of our facility. A total of 15 cathodes are available to enable systems dedicated to certain materials/processes, which greatly improves process reliability and control. Our newest system has RGA for verifying base vacuum, has both heated and cooled platens, and has the unique ability to provide feedback control to reactive sputtering processes through an optical plasma emission monitor controlling the gas flow through MFCs.

Etching and machining: A wide complement of dry and wet etch processes are available within the University of Utah Nanofab. Deep reactive ion etching (DRIE) is performed by two systems, both of which include the time-multiplexed DRIE process, and one of which includes the cryogenic DRIE process. Aspect ratios exceeding 20:1 are routinely achieved, and high-level process support is available to help optimize processes for diverse user needs. Multiple RIE tools are also available, and support etching of a wide range of materials from traditional Si, Si3N4, poly-Si, and descum processes, to metals, polymers, and physical etching. These etchers support a wide array of users including biomedical devices, NEMS/MEMS, optics, plasmonics, packaging, and many others. Also, an isotropic XeF2 etch station is available for silicon etching of sacrificial structures. Wet etching processes are available that use a variety of acids and bases to etch a range of materials. A variety of etches utilize purpose-designed cleanroom wet benches for performing etching, and include specific process chemistry wells to allow for improved temperature controls, and help avoid cross-contamination between the etch chemistries.

Three laser micromachining tools are also available, including: Nd:YAG (Si patterning), KrF excimer (e.g., polymers), and a CO2 system (e.g., PDMS). Micro-wire electron discharge machining (EDM) tool with 50 μm kerf, and a laser micro welder to support meso-scale device integration and prototyping.

Packaging and prototyping engineering support (through Center for Engineering Innovation): The University of Utah Nanofab offers professionally staffed, full hybrid and silicon system integration, packaging, testing, reliability and analysis capabilities covering polymer, ceramic and semiconductor-based substrates and technologies from chip-on-chip to chip-on-board, and heterogeneous integration of devices and/or nanoparticle/nanotube covering all ranges of fluidic, sensor/actuator, photonic and electronics uses. Figure shows a few representative examples of advanced prototypes manufactured at the University of Utah Nanofab.

Advanced prototyping services:The Center for Engineering Innovation CEI is the prototyping, and advanced engineering services provider associated with the University of Utah Nanofab. It serves industry and public/government collaborators as well as supporting Utahs academic institutions. It is an integral part of the University of Utah Nanofab and leverages the Nanofab infrastructure to provide integrated processes and knowledge base in highly advanced technologies and their respective application fields and markets that make it easily accessible for users with little experience in this field. CEIs focus is on maturing technologies and intellectual property, and de-risking and accelerating the transfer of technologies into the commercial space as envisioned by the University of Utah and USTAR. CEI helps bridge the gap between basic and clinical science and engineering innovation, and commercial products. CEI works closely with customers to develop an understanding of processes and capabilities in the Nanofab, so that customers can use the facility effectively.

Synergies with research laboratories at the University of Utah: State of Utah Center of Excellence for Biomedical Microfluidics, Center for Engineering Innovation, Laboratory for Optical Nanotechnologies

Facility Management: The Nanofab is administered by the College of Engineering which provides the largest portion of the operational subsidy, with the university Vice President for Research also contributing substantial funds annually.  In general, the user fees pay for the costs of operation and maintenance for the tools while the subsidies pay for the salaries of the 13 administrative (4) and technical staff (9).  Reporting to the COE Dean is a faculty Executive Director who oversees both the Associate (managing) Director and the accounting administration.

Accessibility: The facility is open 24/7 to trained lab members with active research accounts.

Affordability: University VP’s and the Dean COE together support low prices in the facility in order to promote more effective research.  In addition, they cost-shared funding that promotes the rapid collection of preliminary data during the crucial months before submitting a research funding proposal.  The USTAR program also offers a subsidy program for researchers at other in-state institutions to access the facility without having to pay the second overhead, making their rates equivalent to on-campus rates.  USTAR has an application-based preliminary data seed fund program serving off-campus users (academic and business) that is parallel with the on-campus program.  Businesses may apply for subsidized hourly rates, through USTAR.