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Impact of the structural funds (POIG) initiative on microsystem technology development in Poland (MINTE and MNS-DIAG projects)

Piotr Grabiec ,  Krzysztof Domański ,  Dariusz Szmigiel 

Instytut Technologii Elektronowej (ITE), al. Lotników 32/46, Warszawa 02-668, Poland


Enormous progress of silicon based micro- and nanotechnologies, aimed at development of increasingly complex integrated circuits according to a Moore’s law, brought us numerous, extremely refined process technologies. This in turn, created vast opportunities for development of much broader range of highly innovative micro- and nano-scale devices utilizing a knowledge gathered in virtually all branches of physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, material sciences and other areas of science. Important features characterizing this new, “More-than-Moore” domain are – much lower cost of the technology, as compared to advanced IC’s manufacturing and much broader diversity of required expertize, knowledge, materials etc. Thus, MtM domain, in particular the area covering microsystem and sensor technologies became a field of choice for many academic research communities collecting pools of well-educated innovative minds with diversified expertise and knowledge. However, despite the lower technology cost, difficult access to Clean Room facilities and non-standard micro-processing constitute an important barrier hindering research for many academic teams. With this in mind two important projects financed through the Structural Funds mechanism, envisaged as a package underpinning implementation of an innovative technologies based on application of a microsystem technology  have been undertaken in ITE, Warsaw, Poland. Both of them are shortly presented in this contribution.

The goal of the project “Microsystems and Electronic Nanotechnologies for Innovative Economy - MINTE”, POIG.02.01.00-14-081/09 (1.01.10 - 31.10.2013) is to modernize existing research infrastructure (RI) of the Silicon Microsystem and Nanostructure Technology Division of ITE. The Institute, as a leading research institute in the field of micro/nano-electronic technology in Poland is equipped with over 1000 sq.m. Clean Room facility in Piaseczno near Warsaw, where CMOS/MEMS R&D technology line is located. The processing line renders possible research in the area of micro/nano-electronics, photodetectors and silicon microsystems and next, development work up to a prototype stage with minimum feature size down to 3 um (proximity aligners) or 0,8 um (wafer stepper and direct writing laser tool). The weak side of the RI was the obsolete equipment with average age well over 20 years. In spite of that, the team achieved remarkable research results participating 25 European research projects, proving high research competences and reliable partnership, providing partners and customers with a cost effective service path, from a first concept up to a prototype stage, with flexibility allowing for undertaking non-standard endeavors. Our main specialization lays in development of a specialized silicon detectors and resonance based MEMS sensors (physical and bio/chemical), including also MEMS characterization, modeling and simulation as well as device integration.

Within the frame of the MINTE project a new building has been built providing space for the measurement labs as well as for new employees. The main effort however has been put to improve reliability of the Clean Room facility (HVAC) systems and to replace the obsolete technological equipment with a modern one. The most  complex upgrade has been made in the plasma processing bay where PECVD reactor (for SiO2 and Si3N4 deposition) as  well as two new ICP reactors (for noble metal etching and for etching of dielectrics) and two RIE reactors (for standard CMOS etching needs) have been installed. Furthermore, three new diffusion furnaces (total 9 tubes) and 2 LPCVD reactors have been purchased and put into operation. The wafer processing line has been strengthened also by installing of 2 new sputter deposition reactors (for noble metals and for standard CMOS/MEMS applications). The lithography bay has been equipped with a new proximity aligner specialized for the MEMS technology, providing large depth of focus and double side alignment. Besides, an e-beam lithography tool has been installed over the existing SEM allowing for writing narrow lines below 100nm. A new plasma immersion ion implanter together with newly purchased RTA furnace will allow for elaboration of a highly innovative MEMS technologies. Finally, a set of advanced measurement equipment has been purchased with a CASCADE MEMS prober equipped with a Polytec  Micro-Scanning Laser Vibrometer (MSV) being the center of the new MEMS characterization capabilities. All new equipment allows for processing wafers up to 150mm diameter. The whole investment process will be concluded in October 2013. It has to be emphasized however, that due to the limited financing (approx.. 11 mln Euro – which is modest as compared to needs of the largest Microelectronic RI in New Member States, after 30 years pause in investment), not all existing gaps have been filled and further investment effort will be needed. Nevertheless a considerable progress has been made bringing the research potential in the More-than-Moore domain in Poland to higher level.

The second project presented shortly here is “Microsystems for Chemistry and Biomedical Diagnostics - MNS DIAG” POIG.01.03.01-00-014/08-00 (2009-02-01 - 2013-03-31) envisaged to support access of academic research teams to advanced micro/nano-technology. The project has been aimed at investigation of ten new device concepts with a goal to develop five innovative demonstrators. To address the important grand societal challenge related to well-being and health in the ageing society, the project has been focused on application of micro- and nano-systems for chemical/bio-medical diagnostics. To satisfy the needs of the broad range of research undertaken within the project, 17 Polish research teams from universities and institutes have been gathered within the consortium coordinated by ITE, namely: ITE (2 teams), Institute of Biocybernetics and Biomedical Engineering PAS, Technical University of Lodz, Warsaw University of Technology (4 teams), Wroclaw University of Technology (2 teams), Poznan University of Life Sciences, Warsaw University of Life Sciences SGGW, Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy PAS, Jagiellonian University, AGH University of Science and Technology (2 teams), Wroclaw Medical University. The main outcome of the project includes:

1.      CE Lab-on-a-chip system with amperometric detection for determination of psychotropic drugs  (tricyclic antidepressant ) in saliva samples.

2.      Diagnostic instruments for analysis of nanoliter volumes of body  secretion for  fertility and pathological states monitoring.

3.      A novel methodology and lab-on-a-chip diagnostic instruments for fast optical characterization & evaluation of single living porcine and bovine oocytes and embryos.

4.      Bio- micro-reactors for cell culture.

5.      Integrated MEMS detector  for dynamic humidity measurement in medical applications allowing to reach up to 40 detections per second i.e. some 100 to 1000 times faster than conventional dew point hygrometers.

6.      Microsystem device for the analysis of the exhaled air for medical applications, equipped with pre-concentrator.

7.      Piezoelectric polymer sensor system for posture & gait diagnostic.

8.      Nano-mechanical resonance sensors for chemical/bio-chemical analytics.

Achieved results has been published in 121 papers and 160 conference presentations. Besides, a broader monograph is being prepared and is expected to be published in the next year. The project brought important technological progress in application of the microsystem technology for analytical instrumentation, however it has to be emphasized that the development within the MNS DIAG project has been considerably hindered due to parallel investment process of the MINTE project, delayed due to financial reasons. Nevertheless, the main goal of the project i.e. gathering broader research community around ITE providing access to the technology and elaboration of the demonstrators have been successfully achieved. Further work towards development of the prototypes and industrialization of the developed products will be carried out within next projects with strong industrial participation. Together, both presented projects in this package created a strong base for further progress of the More-than-Moore technologies in Poland.


Authors would like to acknowledge a collaboration with leaders of the MNS-DIAG consortium. Also a financial support by The National Centre for Research and Development, Poland under POIG projects: MINTE; POIG.02.01.00-14-081/09 and MNS-DIAG POIG.01.03.01-00-014/08-00 is acknowledged.

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Submitted: 2013-08-30 10:34
Revised:   2013-09-05 15:28