The anchors of the MMI facilities are the University of Virginia Microfabrication Lab (UVML) cleanroom, the Nanoscale Materials Characterization Facility (NMCF) and theFar-Infrared Receiver and Terahertz Laboratory (FIRTL).  The combination of these facilities allow us to investigate manipulate and fabricate materials, devices and circuits from atomic to system levels.


The University of Virginia Microfabrication Laboratories (UMVL) was originally founded on the strength of the terahertz (THz) group which has a long-standing, internationally recognized program of excellence in THz materials, devices, circuits & packaging, systems, and metrology (measurement/analysis) with over $50M funding over the past 35 years. This effort began in the early 1970s with the development of semiconductor and later superconductor detectors for radio astronomy in collaboration with the (locally based) National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and in the 1980s strengthened further with the investigation and development of THz technologies with the (locally based) National Ground Intelligence Center- both relationships continue to be at the forefront of THz research and development. However, the focus of the UVML has broadened greatly over the last 15 years with widening thrust areas in photonics and optoelectronic devices, biomedical and electronic microsystems, RF MEMS, THz electronics, ultra-low power systems, and microfluidics.

Cleanroom1                                     Cleanroom2

The UVML is the state’s flagship University device fabrication facility and open to users across all Schools of the University. The 10,000 ft2 facility, located in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, supports three UVA Schools (SEAS, A&S, and Medicine) in multidisciplinary research and educational activities and trains its students in research methods and skills with high value in the wider economy.

A  3,500 ft2 clean-room facility, the heart of the UVML, provides a dust free, temperature and humidity controlled laboratory   environment and is equipped with over $15M in complex tools for the design, fabrication and investigation of electronic,   photonic, bio,  microfluidic, and multifunction devices and circuits. The UVML also enables the individual faculty laboratories that are equipped for the design and evaluation of the   resulting materials, devices, circuits, and systems. New test-results fosters new proposals, funding, designs and UVML use. The UVML is supported by a faculty director (Dr. Arthur Lichtenberger), facility manager Joe Beatrice and three laboratory technicians. Educational thrusts include undergraduate and graduate student research along with UVML associated laboratory and  classroom teaching, reaching over 300 students per year.

The UVML fabrication facilities are equipped for the fabrication and evaluation of complex circuits and micromachined structures. Deposition tools include four different loadlocked DC/RF magentron sputtering tools, including a new AJA Inc dual chamber UHV ten magnetron gun sputtering tool with 900C heated and cold stage. Two CHA six crucible E-beam Evaporators with integral ion cleaning and dual liftoff/edge coverage wafer fixturing have also available to deposit a wide variety of materials. Dry etching tools include two fluorine based reactive ion etchers, a TRION fluorine based Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) deep reactive ion etcher (DRIE), and an Oxford Instruments Plasmalab-100 chlorine based ICP DRIE with a temperature controlled stage (-150 to 400C) with laser endpoint detection. Mask aligners include an MJB3 Karl Suss aligner at 415nm for thick resists and  MJB4 aligner at 320nm, a EV620 320nm tool with true backside alignment. The UVML is well equipped for, and has a long history in, the fabrication of sophisticated plated chip architectures. Diagnostic equipment includes a Veeco Dektak-8 surface and stress profiler, a Veeco NT-100 Optical Profiler, an FSM laser based thin film stress measurement system, a Horiba Jobin Yvon UVISEL phase modulated spectroscopic Ellipsometer, a Zeiss Supra 40 FESEM with STEM and an Inca 250 EDX microanalysis package. Additional equipment includes a Logitech PM5 auto-pol precision Lapping & Polishing Machine and a Disco 320 dicing saw.

UVML  faculty have an established record of creating new spin-off businesses1 and growing sponsored research, now over $6.5M per year. The strategic research areas range broadly, including high-speed THz and IR systems, biotechnology, and nano, opto, and ultra low-power electronics.

The UVML R&D activities have a wide portfolio of more than 50 ongoing interactions with industrial research collaborators   and government laboratories, both within Virginia  and beyond.  The UVML also provides important research infrastructure support to the UVA pan-university institutes, including the Applied Research Institute (ARI) and NanoStar.

The Nanoscale Materials Characterization Facility (NMCF) at the University of Virginia (UVA) is located in the Materials Science and Engineering Department and is open to users across all Schools of the University. For more than 30 years the NMCF is dedicated to microscopy, chemical and structural characterization of materials from atomic to macroscopic levels. The facility has two transmission electron microscopes, two scanning electron microscopes, multi-purpose and single-crystal X-ray diffractometers, wide and small-angle X-ray scattering diffractometers, a 3D X-ray imaging system, a scanning Auger multiprobe, a multi-wavelength Raman system, a scanning white-light interferometer, a digital optical imaging system, and extensive specimen preparation, computation and analysis facilities. These instruments can perform atomic imaging of materials, elemental analysis of regions less than a nanometer in diameter, dynamic experiments employing heating, cooling and straining, orientational mapping and cathodoluminescence of materials, electron-beam lithography of semiconductors/MEMS device fabrication, determination of the size, shape and degree of aggregation of nanoparticles and polymers at nanometer resolution, residual stress analysis, compound identification, and three-dimensional digital optical imaging. The facility is supported by a faculty director (Dr James Howe), and has two full-time scientists- Dr. Michal Sabat, who oversees the X-ray instruments in the facility, and Mr. Richard White, who manages the facility and oversees the use of all of the other light and electron optical instruments. A third research scientist, Joseph Thompson, helps maintain equipment, train users, and perform special projects for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The NMCF has a broad user base at UVA, with a strong concentration in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), the College of Arts and Sciences (CLAS), and the School of Medicine (SOM). These include Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), Chemical, Mechanical, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Applied Research Institute in SEAS, Biology, Chemistry and Physics in CLAS, and Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics in the SOM. The instruments are largely used for nanoscience and nanotechnology research in SEAS and similarly in Chemistry and Physics, but there is also a substantial amount of research performed on single and molecular crystals and proteins in Chemistry and Biology. The NMCF not only serves the UVA community, but also has strong ties to a number of industries and institutions in Virginia, for example, Altria Group, Afton Chemicals, Luna Innovations, Mikrosystems, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, etc. The facility also supports research and/or hosts researchers involving many other universities around the country and overseas, making it truly interdisciplinary and international in its reach and impact.

The joint ECE and Physics operated Far-Infrared Receiver and Terahertz Laboratory is available to all Schools at UVA and occupies a 3,000 ft2 facility in the Physics Department at the University of Virginia and, over the past 30 years, has focused on the design, fabrication, assembly, and testing of components operating throughout the millimeter and submillimeter wave range, from 100 GHz to 3 THz.  Work in this laboratory has concentrated on fundamental components such as frequency multipliers, sideband generators, detectors, and mixers based on semiconductor (particularly Schottky barrier diodes) and superconducting devices (including SIS tunnel junctions and hot electron bolometers). In addition, the laboratory has significant expertise in millimeter/submillimeter-wave metrology, including s-parameter characterization, power/frequency measurements, wafer probing, antenna pattern mapping,  terahertz spectroscopy and Si photonics.

The facility is supported by a faculty director (Dr Robert Weikle) and a facility manager.  The FIR laboratory is fully equipped for the design, assembly and evaluation of THz-IR wavelength components and houses a wide variety of equipment for RF/millimeter/submillimeter-wave testing and characterization. This includes an HP 8510C vector network analyzer, HP 8720 network analyzer, a Rhode and Schwarz ZVA40 four-port network analyzer, a Keysight PNA-X four-port vector network analyzer, a number of frequency synthesizers operating to 50 GHz, spectrum analyzers (HP 8565 and 8593), power meters (HP and Erickson), microwave and RF amplifiers, lock-in amplifiers, digital multimeters, power supplies, high quality optical tables, a Martin-Puplett interferometer, a Mach-Zehnder interferometer, a large collection of precision optical mounts, stages and positioners, and a variety of antennas, frequency meters, and passive waveguide/coaxial components. For design, computation and modeling, the laboratory maintains a number of computers and software packages including Autodesk’s AutoCAD, ANSYS mechanical and thermal simulation software, Dassault Systémes Solid Works, Ansoft’s High Frequency Structure Simulator and Agilent’s Advanced Design System. For circuit assembly and testing, two wirebonders, several high-end stereo-microscope stations with micromanipulators and probes for assembling and testing devices and microcircuits, a number of stations for soldering/assembly, and two probe stations (including a Cascade Microtech PA100) for millimeter-wave and submillimeter-wave scattering-parameter measurements are available.

FIRTL-1                                     FIRTL-2

Moreover, the laboratory houses a Lakeshore cryogenic probe station (Model CP-6) for wafer probing at temperatures to 1.6 K and at frequencies as high as 220 GHz. The laboratory houses a number of specialized instruments for submillimeter measurement, including a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR), millimeter and submillimeter-wave frequency multiplier sources (operating to 1.6 THz), Schottky diode mixers and cryogenic bolometers, optical components, and an Edinburgh CO2-pumped molecular gas lasers for use in the 500 GHz to 3 THz range. A variety of specialized solid-state sources, detectors, and spectroscopic instruments manufactured by Virginia Diodes, Inc. and covering the frequency range from 270 GHz to 1.6 THz are also housed and available in the laboratory. Additional facilities include a number of liquid-He dewars and a closed-cycle He refrigerator for testing and characterizing cryogenic devices and circuits. Finally, the laboratory houses and maintains a unique/customized on-wafer measurement system capable of probing solid-state components and other devices up to 1.1 THz. This capability is a recent advancement that was developed over the past five years at the University of Virginia under DARPA funding.