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A $4 million donation of equipment from Applied Materials of Santa Clara, CA to MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) will allow the facility to maintain its ability to do state-of-the-art research and education in semiconductor devices, processes and systems. The inauguration of the machines was celebrated with a reception on November 10.
"This sort of partnership between the MTL and Applied Materials really enables the MTL research programs," said Martin A. Schmidt, MTL director and a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "The cost of these tools is so high that without this kind of help, it's practically impossible for a university to maintain the experimental infrastructure to do cutting-edge research in the semiconductor area."
The Applied Materials donation is key to MTL's long-standing plan to convert its fabrication facilities from four- to six-inch-diameter wafers. The upgrade will give MTL researchers access to new processes developed only for wafers six inches in diameter and larger. It also makes MTL facilities compatible with those at other local laboratories (such as Lincoln Laboratory), which will allow increased interaction and foster new collaborations.
Specifically, Applied Materials donated an Endura Metal Deposition System, a tool for depositing thin metal films on six-inch silicon wafers. The company also donated the installation and qualification resources for the Endura, as well as for a Centura High-Density Plasma Etcher. (The Centura itself, which etches patterns into the oxide layer deposited on six-inch wafers, was donated to MTL by Motorola.) Applied Materials, maker of both the Endura and Centura, provided the labor and parts necessary to install the tools and make sure they operate within specifications.
Applied Materials is a leading supplier of semiconductor wafer processing systems and services worldwide and a member of MTL's group of industrial partners.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 17, 1999.