Purdue invests $49M in semiconductor research and learning facilities

Birck is home to the Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory, a 25,000 sq. ft. ISO Class 3-4-5-6 (Class 1-10-100-1000) nano­fabrication cleanroom containing leading-edge equipment for epitaxy, lithography, etching, processing and packaging.

Purdue University will invest $49 million to enhance and expand facilities for semiconductor R&D and workforce development. This Phase 1 investment will include cleanroom upgrades and equipment at the Birck Nanotechnology Center, a nationally leading research facility.

The investment is a part of Purdue Computes, a three-pronged strategic initiative launched on April 14 to further scale Purdue’s research and educational excellence in the future of computing. A planned Phase 2 would include another $51 million to create an open innovation ecosystem.

“Birck Nanotechnology Center has for decades been a critical home for discovery and technology development, both for Purdue researchers and those from industry and other universities who use our facilities,” says Zhihong Chen, the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center. “This investment will ensure that we maintain our state-of-the-art facilities, reclaim more space, and establish new capabilities for semiconductor R&D.”

Upgrades will include procurement of specialized equipment for device fabrication and characterization, and effort to increase capacity in the 25,000-square-foot Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory cleanroom, one of the largest academic cleanrooms in the nation. It will include a dedicated training bay for use in training those enrolled in the university’s Semiconductor Degrees Program, such as Purdue undergrads, Ivy Tech students, and engineers in the field.

The upgrades will also create dedicated cleanroom and lab space for advanced packaging research – innovations in design, materials, and processing that are needed to integrate chiplets with different functionalities – and shared quantum transport and characterization facilities, which are important to future electronic and quantum information science applications. Work will begin immediately and is expected to be completed in August 2024. The installation of new equipment in the renovated space will start in the first quarter of 2024.

“As we continue to push the boundaries of scientific discovery, our commitment to advancing nanoscale science and engineering is unwavering,” says Karen Plaut, executive vice president for research. “Purdue’s investment in our facilities demonstrates our dedication to providing state-of-the-art resources for our esteemed researchers and students, empowering them to advance critical semiconductor technology and engage in groundbreaking research in other areas of nanoelectronics, quantum computing, and more.”