WPI Unveils MEMS Fabrication Facility for Nanotechnology Manufacturing Research

Contact: WPI Media Relations, +1-508-831-5609

WORCESTER, Mass., March 8, 2006 - Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) recently celebrated the dedication of a laboratory designed for research and education in micro/nanoscale fabrication, expanding the university's research strengths in MEMS (micro-electrical mechanical systems). The new Lufkin MEMS Fabrication Facility, also known as a clean room, is a state-of-the-art laboratory that will be used for MEMS-related courses, and give undergraduate and graduate students hands-on experience with fabricating MEMS for projects and research studies. MEMS are an essential part of many of today's advanced technologies, and are found in airbag deployment systems, aircraft controls, and biochemical sensors.

The MEMS facility will positively impact not only WPI, but also the Worcester and central Massachusetts manufacturing community, as well. It significantly enhances the ability of WPI students to understand, design and use microscale devices. This understanding will then benefit the companies that employ them upon graduation. The growing sectors in bioengineering and biotechnology require professionals trained in this technology, since MEMS are increasingly important to both areas, as well as to the communications industry and for a wide array of manufacturing applications.

WPI's capacity to offer courses in the fabrication of MEMS devices, and to support on-campus research, student projects and other nanotechnology activities is greatly increased by this new facility. Previously, WPI graduate students would to travel to Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico to do hands-on MEMS research. Now they can complete design, fabrication, characterization, and optimization for MEMS structures right on campus, as the facility supports activities such as photolithography, thermal deposition and oxidation, wet chemistry, metrology, and wafer bonding.

Located in the lower level of the Higgins Laboratories building, the Lufkin MEMS Fabrication Facility features a Class 100 work area and a Class 10,000 growing area, along with the necessary air handling equipment to maintain ideal operational conditions for micro/nanoscale fabrication activities. The facility was named in honor of the generous investment from the Richard H. Lufkin Memorial Fund, Bank of America Trustee. In addition, Intel Massachusetts was instrumental in providing much of the vital laboratory equipment for this new resource.

MEMS research is interdisciplinary in nature, bringing together fields such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and biomedical engineering. The Lufkin MEMS Fabrication Facility reflects this. Although it is overseen by the WPI Mechanical Engineering Department, it will provide exposure to the interdisciplinary collaboration required in this field and foster interdisciplinary relationships relating to shared technology and the application of that technology to new markets.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865, WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technological universities. Its 18 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts. WPI's world-class faculty work with students in a number of cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, information security, and nanotechnology. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference in communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Perspectives Program, at more than 20 project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.