University of Wisconsin-Madison Wisconsin Center for Applied Microelectronics College of Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison Wisconsin Center for Applied Microelectronics
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Overview & FAQ

    The Wisconsin Center for Applied Microelectronics (WCAM) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison provides a research facility for microfabrication technologies, products and innovations. In order to give students a state-of-the-art education and to maintain leading-edge research programs, we continue to improve this advanced laboratory.

    WCAM maintains a suite of semiconductor and microfabrication processing equipment in a cleanroom laboratory. Access to the lab and to all equipment is available to qualified users from the University of Wisconsin, other education institutions, or industry. WCAM is a cost recovery facility.

    The laboratory is located on the third floor of the Engineering Centers Building on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Click here for a searchable UW campus map, or return to the WCAM home page for more contact information.




FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Getting started:
  1. How much does it cost to use WCAM?
  2. How can I obtain access to WCAM?
  3. Why do I need to know what I want to do in the lab, before I can get access?
  4. Which supplies and materials does WCAM provide?
  5. What should I bring with me to the lab?
  6. What must I not bring with me to the lab?
  7. Where can I buy the stuff I need?
  8. Can I come into the lab as a non-paying oberver?
  9. How long will take for me to obtain access and get to work?
Equipment access:
  1. What is CRESS, and what does it do?
  2. Will I receive equipment training from WCAM staff?
  3. Why do I need to have actual work to do on a tool, before I can get training on it?
  4. Why can't my friends train me on the equipment?
  5. Why don't you have Superusers who can do training?
  6. My friend has checked out a tool in CRESS; why can't I use it, too?
  7. Why can't I log in to a bunch of tools all at once?
  8. Why can't I log in to a tool now, to save it for later when I'll need it?
Laboratory safety, contamination, and discipline:
  1. Why are you guys so uptight about the chemicals I want to bring into WCAM?
  2. Why can't I use material X in tool Y? It's just like material W that's approved in tool Z.
  3. The material I want to use is not approved for the tool I want to use it in. How can I get it approved?
  4. Why do I need to stay alongside certain tools while they are running?
  5. Why so I have to have a Buddy at night?
  6. Do you have a lost and found?
  7. What happens if I break the rules?


ANSWERS

Getting started:
  1. How much does it cost to use WCAM?

         WCAM is a cost recovery facility, which means our operating expenses are partly supported by charges to users. Each year, the WCAM Advisory Committee reviews the user fee schedule and sets recharge rates. WCAM rates are generally at or below the median for similar University research labs in the U.S.

         Access to some tools in the lab is included in each user's monthly lab access charge, with no additional fee. Many tools carry a cost, billed to the user's account at an hourly rate; different tools have different rates, depending on their cost of operation. In a few cases there may be additional fees for the use of very expensive materials, such precious metals in deposition tools. See the fee schedule for current rates.


  2. How can I obtain access to WCAM?

         Full details can be found in the Getting Started section of this Web site. In summary, to become a user of the WCAM cleanroom, you must:

         Continuing users are required to attend annual renewal sessions.


  3. Why do I need to know what I want to do in the lab, before I can get access?

         WCAM frequently receives requests from new users who don't have a specific project to work on or task to accomplish, but who ask to "learn the cleanroom", or who submit a long list of equipment and ask to be trained on all of it at once. Generally, we find that it is unproductive to train a user on a tool unless he has a current need for that tool. There are several reasons for this:


         Everything that applies to individual tools applies to the lab as a whole: it is unproductive to go through an orientation session for the lab, until you have some reason to be in the lab. Therefore, you must demonstrate that you have actual work to do at WCAM, before you are granted access; and you must show that you have actual work to do on a tool, before you request training on it.


  4. Which supplies and materials does WCAM provide?

    The following are provided as part of your access fee, for use in the WCAM labs only:


    Remember, these materials are available for use in the WCAM labs only. Removal of these materials from WCAM is theft.


  5. What should I bring with me to the lab?


  6. What must I not bring with me to the lab?

         Because the WCAM labs are a controlled environment in which we seek to minimize particles and contaminants, there are many things you must NOT bring into the lab. These will be discussed more fully at your on-site orientation session. Prohibited items include, but are not limited to:


  7. Where can I buy the stuff I need?

         If you need wafer tweezers, cleanroom notebooks, epi wafers, an optical mask, etc., you can check this list of suppliers for suggested sources. Of course, WCAM does not guarantee or endorse any of these companies; they are just places that we know people sometimes buy things from.

         UW departments and groups can buy many cleanroom supplies and other useful things online, through the UW's Materials Distribution Services (MDS) system. If your group has an account, MDS gives you access to Fisher Scientific, VWR, Sigma-ALdrich, and Grainger. Items purchased through MDS may be eligible for academic discounts.



  8. Can I come into the lab as a non-paying observer?

         No. Everyone in the cleanrooms is a lab user: this helps ensure that everyone in the cleanroom shares an interest in helping maintain a productive, contamination-free environment. Everyone using the cleanrooms must sign in through CRESS, and CRESS accounts must be connected to verified funding sources.



  9. How long will it take to obtain access and get to work?



Equipment access:
  1. What is CRESS, and what does it do?

         CRESS stands for Clean Room Equipment Security System. It is a Web-based system providing access control to WCAM equipment. The CRESS status screen shows who is in the lab and which equipment is currently in use.

        From a users' point of view, CRESS serves four central functions:

    • CRESS communicates tool and user status.
      - The three-colored lamps on each CRESS tool indicate its status:
      A GREEN LIGHT means the tool is operational, and no one is using it.

      A GREEN LIGHT AND A BLUE LIGHT mean the tool is in use.

      A RED LIGHT means the tool is DOWN: something is wrong with it, and it is unavailable for use.

      A BLUE LIGHT AND A RED LIGHT mean the tool is under maintenance by WCAM staff, and is unavailable for use.
      - Status of all tools that are in use, down, or in maintenance is given on the CRESS terminal in each bay. This status page also shows which users are currently in the lab.

      - Information on status page is reproduced on the monitor outside the cleanroom entrance.

      - The status page can also be viewed online, allowing users to remotely check whether the tool they need is available.
    • CRESS verifies equipment training, so that only qualified users may log on to tools. (For a description of why this is good for everybody, see Why can't my friend train me on the tools?). To be granted CRESS access to a piece of equipment, a user must be trained by a staff member, demonstrate mastery of good operating practice, and continue to operate the equipment without violating any lab safety or contamination rules.

    • CRESS manages billing for tools in the lab, and records usage. Many tools have no charge associated with them. For information on costs associated with using the WCAM labs, see the fees page.

    • CRESS controls tool interlocks, so that some function of a tool is disabled unless someone has checked it out in CRESS. This keeps unauthorized people from using the tool. Understanding the details of the CRESS interlock on a tool may be an important part of your training. For example, some of the plasma etch tools generate an alarm when CRESS disables their process gas manifold valves. You need to know that this one particular alarm may be safely silenced and ignored on these particular tools, while other alarms carry important information to which you are required to respond.


  2. Will I receive equipment training from WCAM staff?

         Yes. WCAM staff conduct training on all tools and processes in the lab, by prior appointment. You can find out which staff member is responsible for which tool by checking the Equipment section of our Web site. The training may also include tips on accompanying processes. After training and practice, each person demonstrates knowledge of operating procedures in order to receive access the equipment. Some pieces of equipment require more than one training session. No one may use equipment unless he has been trained by WCAM staff, and given access in CRESS.


  3. Why do I need to have actual work to do on a tool, before I can get training on it?

         Most of the reasons for this requirement are similar to those listed under Why do I need to know what I want to do in the lab, before I can get access?, above.

        Lab members who are not working on a real project with a real sample often do not learn tool operation as thoroughly as those who are more invested in the training session. Members who come to the lab with a long list of tools they want to learn but do not currently need, may end up never using those tools, wasting their own time and the time of WCAM staff on training they will never use.

        ost immportantly, a lab member who is trained on a tool he does not currently need, and then needs to use it months or years later, will have forgotten many of the nuances of the tool's operation. He will therefor be less likely to get good results from using the tool, than if he took training when he actually needed it, and more likely to use the tool improperly, to the detriment of other lab members.


  4. Why can't my friends train me on the equipment?

         Hundreds of users from dozens of research groups rely upon our equipment to be in good working order whenever they need to use it. It is important to everyone's research that each time they use a tool, the results are as nearly as possible the same as the last time they used that tool with the same parameters. To maintain reliability, every user must be thoroughly and uniformly trained on each piece of equipment they need to use.

         When users train each other, important information may be lost or distorted in successive generations. For this reason, all training at WCAM is done by staff members.


  5. Why don't you have superusers who can do training?

         Because we don't need them. In most cases, WCAM staff can schedule a user's training on a tool within several days of receiving the request. Users can avoid delay by planning ahead.


  6. My friend has checked out a tool; why can't I use it, too?

         Each user must access each tool under his or her own account, so that we can be sure all users have been trained on the tools they are using, and (secondarily) so that billing for tool use is applied to the right funding source.


  7. Why can't I log in to a bunch of tools all at once?

         That's selfish, uncooperative behavior! If you log into a tool just because you might need it later, then no one else can use it.
         There are some tools that are exceptions to this rule. For example, in Litho Bay, you are allowed to log in to one aligner, one photoresist spinner, and one development bench all at the same time, because the lithographic process often requires you to move back and forth among these tools, and therefore you are actually using them. But you may NOT log into, say, an etcher in Plasma Bay

         Also, remember that tool status is shown on our Web site. If you log into a tool, other uses looking on line would see that the tool is in use, and would not come to the lab to do their work.


  8. Why can't I log into a tool now, even though I don't need it yet, so I can save it for when I need it later?

         That's selfish, uncooperative behavior! If you log into a tool just because you might need it later, then no one else can use it.
         There are some tools that are exceptions to this rule. For example, in Litho Bay, you are allowed to log in to one aligner, one photoresist spinner, and one development bench all at the same time, because the lithographic process often requires you to move back and forth among these tools, and therefore you are actually using them. But you may NOT log into, say, an etcher in Plasma Bay


  9. Why are you guys so uptight about the chemicals I want to use at WCAM?

         WCAM is a shared-use facility. All users have the same right to expect that tools and equipment are in good useable condition. That means the tools must not be contaminated with materials that can poison other users' processes. It also means that all users have to observe chemical safety rules, because improper use of materials in the lab can put other users at risk.
         The bottom line is that WCAM is no one group's provate lab. All users share responsibility for keeping the resources in good, safe working order, and no user may act in a way that has a negative effect on other users' work.





Copyright 2009 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
Date last modified: 07-Jun-2011 11:27:39
Date created: 10-Jul-2001
Content by: WCAM staff
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