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 manufacturingbiotechnology, the life sciences and other fields that are very sensitive to environmental contamination. 

At IISc, we have a Class-10,000 cleanroom at the Centre for Electronics Design and Technology (CEDT) and Class-100 and Class-1000 cleanrooms at the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering (ECE). The upcoming Centre of Excellence in Nanoelectronics (CEN) is currently building a state-of-the-art nanofabrication facility with a clean room spanning 1400 square meters.

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.  


  1. Good Blog.
    Think again about

    "relatively unglamourous side of the electronics industry"

    "Chances of me getting involved in PCB fabrication or, for that matter, IC fabrication are remote"

    I think India is going to have steep increase in electronics manufacturing industry... early entrants of this field would be highly in demand...

  2. Hey Deepak,

    Thanks for those insightful comments. Some day I might think again about it. But what I have written today are the views I hold today. Moreover, I don't think I'm good with chemicals anyway. Circuits make me feel a lot more comfortable!