The IIT-Bombay Nanofabrication Facility (IITBNF) is a state-of-the-art semiconductor device technology and nanotechnology research facility which consists of over 15 laboratories under its umbrella. It is housed in the Department of Electrical Engineering (EE) – one of the main drivers of Microelectronics research activity in India. IITBNF grew in concept, structure and function from the various projects and labs that were established here since the 1980s.
The genesis of semiconductor device research at IIT-Bombay began with Prof. Juzer Vasi joining the EE department as its first Microelectronics faculty member in 1981. IITB’s first device fabrication lab with a Class 1000 cleanroom (the Micro-1 lab) came up through a 17.5 million INR project on Centre for Microelectronics, funded by the Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD), Govt. of India, from 1985 to 1995. This project was jointly managed by Prof. Juzer Vasi, Prof. A. N. Chandorkar and Prof. R. Lal; who successfully built a 3 micron NMOS fabrication lab and promoted research & teaching in Microelectronics. In those days, research focussed on MOS devices, with the project on ‘Radiation Effects on MOS devices’ (1988 to 1994) bringing international visibility to the lab.
As more faculty members joined the Microelectronics group in subsequent years, they brought in different projects that added to the infrastructure and scope of research. Areas of research expanded to included MEMS and Bio-MEMS devices & technology. In 2002, through funding support from National Programme on Smart Materials (NPSM) and from IITB, the second device fabrication lab was built. Known as the Micro-2 lab, it includes a Class 10000 clean room and multiple equipments for thin film deposition and characterization.
The big boost towards formation of IITBNF came in 2006 through the project on Centre of Excellence in Nanoelectronics (CEN), funded by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT), Govt. of India. CEN is a long-term collaborative project between IITB and IISc (Bangalore), with the IITB centre focussed on device research and applications. Phase-I (50 crore INR) of the CEN project at IITB was focussed on building infrastructure, increasing the number of associated faculty, expanding research areas and establishing platform technologies & processes for advanced nodes. Many of the state-of-the-art capabilities, cleanrooms, labs and instruments at IITBNF came up during this period - from 2006 to 2012.
In the above phase, support poured in from various sources that augmented the growth of this facility – IITB institute grant, sponsored projects from national R&D organizations and sponsored projects from industry. In 2007, Applied Materials (AMAT) donated advanced fabrication tools and contributed towards creation of a dedicated, 1000 sq.ft. Class 1000 cleanroom. AMAT sponsored projects are carried out here in collaboration with various faculty members of IITBNF.
A major expansion to the existing set of capabilities came about in 2010 – through the project on National Centre on Photovoltaic Research and Education (NCPRE), supported by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Govt. of India. NCPRE enabled a dedicated set of fabrication and characterization facilities specifically for solar cell research and applications.
All the above resources were opened to users across India from 2008, via the Indian Nanoelectronics Users Program (INUP), sponsored by Department of Information Technology (DeIT) under MCIT, Govt. of India. INUP streamlined the operation of all the labs under one facility to ease access & usage for researchers across the country. It continues to boost our outreach efforts and support projects for various applications.
IITBNF now consists of 60 faculty members across various disciplines, with areas of expertise spanning from advanced CMOS & memory to 2D materials & quantum devices. It is an award-winning research facility with a 24x7 operation and a well-established organizational structure. A number of major projects and collaborations contribute to the expansion of this facility. IITBNF continues to evolve in scope, operation and impact as its community grows – pushing the boundaries of research and motivated by its guiding mission.