SOUTH BEND Theres a new arrival in the University of Notre Dames engineering cleanroom.
A $3 million Vistec EBPG 5200 the latest high-end electron beam lithography system was delivered last week and is being installed in the virtually dust-free confines of the high-tech laboratory.
Its the most expensive piece of equipment in Stinson-Remick Hall of Engineering.
The device will be used for research on electronic, optoelectronic and magnetic devices and other projects.
This new system allows you to very precisely align patterns, said Patrick Fay, an electrical engineering pro-fessor and director of the cleanroom.
Electron beam lithography involves emitting a beam of electrons in a patterned fashion across a surface cov-ered with a film (called the resist), then selectively removing either exposed or non-exposed regions of the resist.
The goal is to create tiny structures in the resist that can be transferred to the material below, usually by etch-ing. The process was developed for manufacturing integrated circuits, but also is used in other scientific work.
The Vistec EBPG 5200 writes with an electron beam that is less than 10 nanometers wide, Fay said. (A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.) The machine will be used to build devices that researchers use to do their work aimed at creating the next generation of transistors and other areas of scientific inquiry.
Notre Dame has an older e-beam lithography machine, which will continue to be used but isnt as precise or as speedy as the new one, Fay said. This new machine is more than five times faster, he said. People stand in line to use the current one, he said.
The new tool will allow researchers to advance their work more efficiently and productively, getting useful re-sults quicker, Fay said.
The Vistec device is being installed in the cleanest most ultrafiltered section of the cleanroom. The rooms windows are coated with clear orange tinting to block blue and ultraviolet light that might disrupt some experiments.
The machine is expected to be used heavily by scientists in the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery, a consortium led by Notre Dame that aims to develop the building blocks for smaller, faster computers of the future.
Staff writer Margaret Fosmoe: