Microsystems Technology Laboratories

The Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) conduct research and education with an intellectual core of Semiconductor Industry Process and Device Technology and Integrated Circuits and Systems Design. MTL also leverages its infrastructure to foster new initiatives at the Institute and to support the general micro- and nanofabrication needs of MIT.

MTL carries out graduate and undergraduate research activities in circuits and systems that are built using microsystems technology for applications such as wireless sensing networks and intelligent vision systems. Additionally, researchers are investigating the fabrication and study of small (i.e., micrometer to nanometer) structures and their use for the implementation of interesting integrated devices from nanometer-scale electronic devices to optical switches to displays to biosensors to micropower generators. The MTL facilities include laboratory space for electronics test and assembly, computation and communication, and microfabrication. The MTL microfabrication facilities include three clean rooms with a total of 6,500 sq ft; the state-of-the-art class-10 Integrated Circuits Laboratory, the flexible process environment Technology Research Laboratory, and the Exploratory Materials Laboratory. The equipment in MTL facilities has a replacement value far in excess of $50 million. In AY2003, the MTL fabrication facilities were utilized by more than 350 students and staff. The laboratory manages a contract research volume of approximately $8 million per year. Approximately $35 million of contract research (primarily managed in other departments/labs/centers) relied on the MTL facilities as an integral part of their research. The fabrication and computation facilities of the MTL are maintained and operated by a full-time technical staff of 21 technicians and engineers.

Beyond the research programs, MTL supports several educational initiatives that leverage the research infrastructure of the labs. Chief among these is the undergraduate Microfabrication Laboratory, a lecture/laboratory subject in which 120 students per year are afforded the opportunity to microfabricate an electronic device in the state-of-the-art MTL facilities. Additionally, we offer a project laboratory for team-based design of microfabricated structures. The Technology Demonstration Laboratory, developed by Professor Sodini, is housed in MTL and provides EECS MEng students the chance to work on thesis topics with a technology integration and demonstration focus. Lastly, via the iCampus Initiative, Professor del Alamo is developing a series of web-based laboratory tools that permit testing of microfabricated structures.

MTL maintains a strong and vibrant interaction with industries that value not only the research output but also the students that are educated in state-of-the-art microsystems technology. The MTL facilities are supported in part by industry through the MIT Microsystems Industrial Group (MIG), whose current members include Advanced Micro Devices, Analog Devices, Applied Materials, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel Corporation, Motorola, National Semiconductor, Novellus Systems, Texas Instruments, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation. Three industry-funded centers are also housed in the MTL: the Center for Integrated Circuits and Systems (CICS), the Intelligent Transportation Research Center (ITRC), and MEMS @ MIT.

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With respect to research, the CICS group (Sodini, Lee, Chandrakasan, Perrott, and Masaki) continued major research initiatives in wireless sensors, low power integrated circuits, radio-frequency and mixed-signal design, wireless gigabit LAN, A/D-D/A converters, and various programs in intelligent transportation. The ITRC launched an important collaboration with the MIT Age Lab. The Devices and Fabrication group (Antoniadis, Reif, Alamo, Schmidt, Boning, Akinwande, and Hoyt) maintained major programs in advanced electronic devices and processes, micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), semiconductor manufacturing, field emission devices, and advanced materials such as SiGe. Three major research programs funded under the Microelectronics Advanced Research Corporation were renewed this year after very strong reviews. These programs as proposed will collectively provide approximately $5.5 million a year to MTL researchers and represent a core element of the MTL research portfolio. Industry sponsorship of MTL comes in the form of direct research sponsorship, as well as membership in centers or the Microsystems Industrial Group. MTL is very pleased to welcome National Semiconductor and Hewlett Packard to the roster of MIG member companies this year. In addition to MIG membership, both companies are committing resources to directed research activities.

The infrastructure of MTL went through major changes this year. Several million dollars worth of large processing equipment came online. An Applied Materials epitaxial deposition system for Professor Judy Hoyt began successful operation this year. This multimillion-dollar state-of-the-art deposition system positions MIT as a leader in the development of advanced materials for silicon electronic devices. We also installed a new Applied Materials tool to support planar optical waveguide fabrication in conjunction with the MIT Microphotonics Center. Lastly, a new STS deep reactive-ion etch system was added to support the MIT Microengine Program, as well as other MEMS activities. After several years of joint development with Stanford University, a new lab management software system, CORAL, was rolled out in the clean room. This software system enables better management of the facility and greatly facilitates user interaction with the lab. The laboratory course (3.155/6.152) experienced a substantial renovation in the labs to more closely align the laboratory experience with the interests of the users. Students in this class now have the opportunity to fabricate and test microelectronic, micromechanical, and microfluidic devices.

Process activity in the facilities reached record levels. We experienced an approximately 50 percent increase in process activity over last year. More that 350 users, coming from 33 different departments, labs, and centers around the Institute, used MTL. These users were supervised by 77 different faculty and senior research scientists. Local users from Boston University, Harvard, Tufts, Northeastern, and Dartmouth as well as several industrial users were also present in the labs.

Professors Akinwande, Boning, and Chandrakasan were all appointed to full professor.

Future Plans

Two efforts will define our focus in the coming year. First, we are embarking on a major renovation and revitalization of the MTL infrastructure to support a 10-year vision for the shared experimental facilities. This activity is catalyzed by several new research initiatives, most notable of these being the new Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies and the Computation Systems Biology Initiative. Both programs share a common need (along with other smaller projects) for new micro- and nanofabrication capabilities. We are in the planning stages of an expansion of the total clean room space in Building 39 to accommodate these needs. In addition, as part of this planning we will develop a master plan for the MTL infrastructure to guide us in the future in expansion and accommodation of new users and equipment.

The second initiative is the enhancement and refinement of our industrial outreach to provide greater value to our partners and to match our industrial programs to the evolving needs both of the industry and the campus research community.

Martin A. Schmidt
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

More information about the Microsystems Technology Laboratories can be found on the web at http://www-mtl.mit.edu/.


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