An electrical engineer mulls over various things around him...
Friday, October 10, 2008
First Day At The Cleanroom
A cleanroom is an environment, typically used in manufacturing or scientific research, that has a low level of environmental pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles and chemical vapors. It has a controlled level of contamination that is specified by the number of particles of size 0.5µm or larger permitted per unit volume of air. For example, a Class-100 cleanroom would have 100 particles of size 0.5µm or larger per cubic foot of air. Cleanrooms are used extensively in semiconductor manufacturing, biotechnology, the life sciences and other fields that are very sensitive to environmental contamination.
Today, I visited a cleanroom for the second time in my life. The first time was about four years back when I happened to visit Astra Microwave Products Limited, Hyderabad. The company specializes in communication products for space and defence applications. Then I had little idea about what goes on inside and I was just - so to say - a lay visitor. Today, I entered the cleanroom at CEDT as - I'd love to believe - a well-informed graduate student. The task was a simple one - fabricating a rather unflattering single-sided Printed Circuit Board (PCB). It might not be a big deal, I suppose, with the latest technology moving towards multi-layer boards with microvias and embedded passives. But it was a learning experience to get a first-hand idea of the process steps involved. Chances of me getting involved in PCB fabrication or, for that matter, IC fabrication are remote. Yet, the Electronic System Packaging course here at CEDT has provided me with an opportunity to get a sneak peek at this relatively unglamourous side of the electronics industry. There's more to learn in the coming months.