New cleanroom to open this fall

Briana Troske

Briana Troske

A new cleanroom for the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building will allow more research on using alternative energy and help put SDSU ahead of the competition.

“I think the cleanroom will be a great opportunity to gain experience in before reaching the research front out in the industry,” said Jake Brinkman, a junior majoring in electrical engineering from Plato, Minn.

In the cleanroom, the main objective is to focus on photovoltaic devices. Photovoltaics is the science of converting solar energy into electrical energy. The room will also do research on micro and nano electronics.

The current cleanroom located in the Solberg Hall Annex was built 30 years ago and has caused problems for the professors and students for several reasons.

“We have had some problems with the current cleanroom because it is very small and limits several students from working and learning at a time,” said Brinkman. “This causes a problem because most electrical engineering happens in the cleanroom with designing smaller and smaller chips for electronic devices.”

“The new cleanroom will allow the department and students to install state-of-the-art equipment and allow us enough space to enable all of our faculty and students to work without worrying about too little space,” said David Galipeau, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

Not only is the research being done in the cleanroom diverse, but also the equipment involved in the processes is very detailed.

“All of the equipment is high vacuum systems. The fabrication equipment will be very sophisticated and will be used for three primary techniques,” said Galipeau. “The three major techniques include evaporative deposition, sputter deposition and chemical vapor deposition.”

Unlike most laboratories on campus, very particular and special clothing is required in order to enter the cleanroom.

Students and professors will have to use special clothing that prevents dust and debris from the body from getting into the cleanroom. The room may also require a face mask or a different type of protective equipment.

“The clothing people wear into the cleanroom is a huge deal,” said Galipeau. “The dust particles that come from the human body or anywhere are so large that they can cause short circuits and open circuits.”

The new cleanroom has many different areas of research, but the laboratories are usually used for working on integrated units.

“The research that can be done on photovoltaics in the new cleanroom may help us with trying to break our dependence on oil and solar power,” said Brinkman. “It is a huge area of research.”

The project for the new cleanroom, funded by the engineering department, has a cost of $1.25 million. Also, a set of guidelines needed to be met in order for the Board of Regents to approve the project.

“We have to meet certain criteria and have the correct paperwork done in order for the project to be approved,” said Colin Gaalswyk, a senior mechanical engineer who works for Facilties and Services.

The project for the cleanroom is expected to be finished by fall 2010.

After its completion, the electrical engineering major is expected to grow in numbers and become more popular among students.