The University of Southampton

ORC opens InterFab research facility

Published: 5 January 2007

A new interdisciplinary fabrication facility at the University of Southampton will enable world-leading research teams from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) and the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) to carry out research on some of the most exciting areas of new technology.

The 180 metre squared InterFab clean room has been specially designed for research on photonic circuits and Microsystems. The new research facility, which is based in a completely renovated building on the University’s Highfield campus, also provides laboratories for biophotonics, special glass fabrication and optical fibre drawing.

The Interfab will act as the main laboratory for micro/nano-fabrication until the new state-of-the-art Mountbatten Building will become operational in mid-2008. It will allow PhD students and postdoctoral researchers to continue hands-on research and rapid prototyping. The Interfab replaces some of the lab space that was lost in the devastating fire that destroyed the Mountbatten Building in October 2005.

Teams from the ORC will be studying planar lightwave circuits for telecommunications, sensing, novel lasers and nonlinear optical devices, and particle guidance from atoms to stem cells, while ECS researchers from the Nanoscale Systems Integration and Electronic Systems Design groups will work on microsystems, nanotechnology and intelligent transducers. Applications range from providing tools to understand and treat chronic disease through monitoring trace levels of pollutants in drinking water, to providing low-cost optical components for high-bandwidth fibre-to-the-home systems and faster transistors for integrated circuits.

The InterFab comprises facilities similar to those used for integrated circuit fabrication, such as photolithography; thick and thin film deposition; dry and wet etching; diffusion; microscopy, and surface profilometry.

Professor James Wilkinson of the ORC, who will direct the InterFab, comments: ‘The wide range of tools available, combined with our expertise in novel materials and devices, will provide an excellent platform for research into photonic and electronic microsystems for IT, communications and the life sciences.’

Professor David Payne, Director of the ORC, comments: ‘Although great resilience has been demonstrated by those affected by the fire, the opening of InterFab will make it easier for researchers to continue their work whilst construction of the new Mountbatten Complex is underway.’

The foundation stone of the new Mountbatten Building will be laid on 22 March 2007, and it is hoped that the building will be completed by summer 2008.


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