The University of Southampton

New equipment marks milestone in Mountbatten construction

Published: 10 October 2007

Another significant milestone has been reached in the reconstruction of the Mountbatten clean room. The Head of School, Professor Harvey Rutt, has just signed off orders for some key pieces of equipment that will support the research to be carried out in the new complex.

The total value of the equipment purchased is £6.6M (including VAT) and includes 11 items of equipment. The most significant equipment is the Jeol JBX 9300 FS electron beam lithography system, which cost £3.3M. It is used to write very small patterns in resist, with an ultimate resolution below 10nm, making it a very important tool for top-down nanotechnology research.

The equipment order also includes a package of deposition and etch equipment, which is used to deposit thin layers of semiconductors and insulators and to etch patterns that have been written by the e-beam lithography system. The etchers include two ICP etchers, one for metals and one for oxides, and two RIE etchers.

The two most interesting deposition systems are an OPT Nanofab 1000 and an OPT FlexAl. The Nanofab 1000 grows carbon nanotubes and silicon/germanium nanowires and is an important tool for bottom-up nanotechnology research. Since the existing technologies are about to hit fundamental limits – nanostructures like these may be the way round these limits. The FlexAl is an atomic layer deposition system that is used to deposit very thin layers of material, with thicknesses down to a few angstrom (1 angstrom = 0.1nm).

‘Construction of the new building is continuing apace,’ said Professor Harvey Rutt, ‘but of course it’s the equipment inside it that will enable the research to be carried out under truly state-of-the-art conditions. Professor Peter Ashburn and his team have done an excellent job in specifying these equipment needs and negotiating with the suppliers and we look forward to seeing the equipment in place next spring.’

It is an essential feature of the construction of the new Mountbatten Building that it provides the incredibly clean and ultra-low vibration environment needed for these cutting-edge machines to function.

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