By Trevor Thornton, NCI-SW Director


Activity in the NCI-SW laboratories is heating up for the summer, just like the temperature outside in the Arizona desert. We have four student visitors from Central Arizona College taking part in our 9-week Research Experiences for Undergraduate program.

A 3D rendering of the nanoscale transistors used to measure the heat generated in an integrated circuit.
Participants work in pairs, guided by experienced graduate student mentors. Moriah Faint and Marcos Rodriguez are developing a process flow to etch silicon membranes that are 100 microns in diameter and as thin as 200nm. The membranes will be used to fabricate nanoscale gratings for the aperture of a compact x-ray free electron laser (XFEL) source being developed at ASU. For more details about the XFEL see this video link. Casey Haller and Nathaniel Faint, participants in another REU project, are using an ultra-small transistor as a thermometer to measure the temperature of an identical adjacent transistor. The transistors have dimensions as small as 40 nm (40 billionths of a meter) and are part of a new technology being developed for the next generation of 5G cellular phones. Because the transistors are so small, any heat produced when they operate can lead to large increases in temperature that can degrade performance. Accurate measurements of the transistor temperature is important to help engineers design circuits that are not at risk of overheating.
The REU students inspect a wafer before measuring the thickness of the photoresist.


Also, spending time with us this summer are Daniel Holder and Laurita Moore, participants in our Research Experiences for Teachers program. Daniel teaches math at Phoenix College and Laurita teaches computer information sciences at South Mountain Community College. You can read more about Daniel and Laurita’s summer research experience in the interview below. Applicants interested in applying for next year’s REU and RET programs can find more details at ncisouthwest.org.