To go where no man has gone before
For nearly a decade, BINA’s fabrication facility has provided creative solutions and guidance to scientists from academia and industry in designing, crafting and experimenting with micro and nano-scale devices.
“BINA Fabrication Center is part of the nanotechnology institute at Bar Ilan University”, explains Dr. Yossi Abulafia, head of the unit, who holds a PhD in solid-state physics. “Our goal is to enablemanufacturing on a micro- and nano scale. Dealing with devices of this scale requires special equipment, process methodologies, and knowledge”, he explains, adding “Above all, a clean-room manufacturing environment is essential. Any speck of dust, which is much larger than these nanoscale devices, could botch a project completely. Our clean-room facilities and instrumentation must, therefore, comply with the highest international standards of scientific performance.”
“To prevent vibrations and air contamination due to the close proximity to a main highway, part of the fabrication area is constructed as a vibration-free zone, and the clean-rooms are monitored closely for air and water quality ", he explains.
The purchase of several state-of-the-art technological systems has stirred up noticeable excitement in the maze of corridors at BINA. “The most recent arrival is the new SUSS MA/BA6 mask aligner,” says Dr. Abulafia, barely hiding his enthusiasm. “Photolithography – an important technique in micro- and nano-fabrication – uses light to transfer a pattern from a photomask to a light-sensitive chemical. This creates a mask on top of the substrate, for selective fabrication in the exposed area. Using the new system, we can now fabricate double-sided devices, applying high precision both to the front and back sides of the substrate – an essential capability when constructing MEMs (microelectromechanical systems)", explains Abulafia. "This advanced model significantly upgrades our fabrication abilities", he says.
“Beam me up, Scotty”
Pointing to a photograph, Abulafia shows a system that performs ion-beam sputtering deposition, remarking that it is scheduled to arrive from the U.S. in November of this year. From the photograph, the design bears a resemblance to props in Star-Trek’s USS Enterprise, although its fabrication surely required several millions of joules of brain power. “This advanced technique will enable us to deposit thin film by ejecting ion particles onto a material target, and sputter material onto a substrate such as a silicon wafer,” Dr. Abulafia remarks.
“We will be able to produce extremely dense multi-layered structures with ultra-smooth surfaces, remarkable uniformity, and sub-nano thickness precision. Providing material layers with bulk properties and accurate geometries will greatly enhance research, and enable the fabrication of optical devices, such as filters and mirrors.”
Home is where you hang your clean-room coat
“Eight years ago,when I was notified about the opening of a nanotechnology research center, I was elated. This would be an interdisciplinary hub where physics, chemistry, biology and engineers could converge,” recalls Abulafia. Consequently, he decided to leave Intel after 12 years of work in diverse positions, and joined BINA. “It felt like coming home after a long journey. I had fond memories of BIU from my graduate and undergraduate studies,” he recalls “and it was great seeing many familiar faces, both from the technical administrative and the scientific staff. I enjoy working with such a dedicated and professional team, and I truly believe that we play an important role at BINA.”
Story originally Published in Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials' summer 2016 newsletter.