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Immersion Lithography

As microelectronic device geometries shrink below 0.25 microns, sophisticated lithographic techniques using optical wavelengths below 157 nm are required to produce them. A number of technical barriers in optical system design, resist chemistry, and mask fabrication must be overcome to enable device fabrication at this technological node, requiring a complete re-tooling of very expensive microfabrication production lines. Immersion lithography is an innovative new lithographic technique that uses a liquid between the stepper lens and the wafer surface (similar to oil-immersion microscope lenses) to radically increase the numerical aperture of the imaging system, enabling large improvements in optical resolution with the 198 nm wavelength optical steppers in widespread use today. Research in Immersion Lithography in the IT collaboratory focuses on developing robust immersion optical systems, testing resist formulations for use in these systems, and identifying effective immersion fluids to fully integrate the wet lithographic process.
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Nanomaterials: Synthesis, Characterization, and Application

Innovative new engineered materials offer enormous potential for high-performance devices which take advantage of the unusual electrical, mechanical, and optical properties of nanomaterials. Carbon nanotubes, a cornerstone material of this technology, can be utilized in devices such as solar cells, batteries, and hydrogen fuel cells to make them substantially smaller and more efficient. IT Collaboratory researchers have developed methods of producing carbon nanotubes with unprecedented levels of purity, and are using these purified macromolecules to develop novel high-efficiency energy conversion devices and micro-batteries.
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Design and Synthesis of Functional Polymers

Polymeric materials can be engineered to meet a wide variety of technical requirements that simpler compounds cannot. For example, IT Collaboratory researchers have synthesized copolymer materials that exhibit high proton mobility while retaining good mechanical properties ad corrosion resistance in aggressive chemical environments. These properties make the materials useful for fuel cell membranes which can be incorporated into advanced, organically-based energy conversion systems. IT Collaboratory researchers have also synthesized novel polymeric optical materials which can change their optical properties when electric fields are applied. These materials find applications in optical modulator and switching devices for the telecommunications industry.
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Integrated R/F Microsystems

Many integrated RF microsystems have been deployed in the marketplace ranging from advanced cellular telephone technology to Bluetooth-enabled data devices, but design of these complete systems remains somewhat problematic. Parasitics introduced during chip packaging or test can cause RF microchips that test OK at the chip level to fail once they are placed in device packages, and device models that work well for design for one device generation do not scale well to the next generation. IT Collaboratory researchers are studying RF design methodologies that include the influence of packaging and parasitics, and incorporating these models into integrated co-design tools for packaged RF systems. Scalable models that predict behavior for more than one device generation, and RF self-test circuitry that simplifies device testing and diagnostics are also active research themes in this area.
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Optoelectronic Packaging

Market penetration of miniaturized optical systems into the marketplace has been limited due to the high cost of integrating and hermetically sealing the system package. Unlike systems in the semiconductor industry, which benefit from massively parallel processes and simple automated pick-and-place packaging techniques, optical systems usually require precision component alignment and some type of hermetically sealed package, both of which drive up unit cost and limit packaging throughput. IT Collaboratory researchers are looking at a variety of methods to increase packaging efficiency and decrease cost, such as integrated alignment features, precision pick-and-place, and self-aligning structures. Alternatives to costly brazed and welded hermetically sealed packages are under investigation.
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Remote Sensing Systems, Subsystems, and Core Technology

Effective remote sensing and surveillance systems are critical in the fields of intelligence gathering, environmental quality monitoring, and fire detection. IT collaboratory researchers have developed multi-spectral imaging systems capable of collecting complete real-time spectral fingerprints of scenes imaged from aircraft or satellites. The spectral response of each object in the scene can be analyzed to allow the viewer to distinguish between a forest fire or a reflection from a lake, or a camouflaged vehicle from the surrounding vegetation. Related research in this area focuses on collecting and analyzing the spectral response of known model materials, such as vegetation, paint, or asphalt, to produce databases of spectral responses which can be used to analyze images. New research focuses on developing small, disposable “ground truth” sensors which can be dispersed in an area of interest, such as a shoreline, to measure critical variables such as atmospheric transparency, illumination, or water turbidity, which can be added to image analysis models to produce even more accurate and trustworthy data from remote sensing systems.
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Photonics Devices

Devices which manipulate light directly to carry information, instead of converting to electronics and processing information with conventional circuitry, hold great promise for high speed, high bandwidth data applications. These types of devices come in various forms, using exotic electro-optical materials, III-V semiconductor materials, and advanced dielectric optical materials to form bragg reflectors, waveguides, modulators, and detectors. IT Collaboratory researchers are active in exploring new device materials, new device structures, and advanced hybrid packaging techniques to develop next generation photonic devices and detectors. MEMS-based photonics devices, using moveable or deformable optical elements, and Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) detector devices are also actively under investigation.
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MEMS Process Development

Surface-micromachined MEMS devices have not seen widespread use in commercial applications, partly due to difficulties in integrating them with existing electronic processes. MEMS process development in the IT Collaboratory leverages our complete CMOS fabrication capability on 6-inch silicon wafers to produce fully CMOS-integrated surface micromachining process flows. Active research efforts in materials science, plasma processing, and MEMS modeling using advanced software packages work together to design, fabricate, and characterize sophisticated optical, fluidic, and mechanical structures at the micro level. Devices being developed include micro-optical spectrometers and spectroscopic imagers, micro-bearings for tribological studies, and microfluidic lab-on-a-chip systems for biological and chemical sampling applications.
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Inorganic Optical Materials

The use of glass as a material for optical devices is as old as the field of optics itself. Optical system performance can be radically improved, and new optical systems and devices can be realized, by creating new high performance glass and ceramic materials. IT Collaboratory researchers are working on synthesis and processing of new inorganic optical materials, such as chalcogenide glasses and doped optical fiber materials, for use in advanced optical systems such as fiber optic repeaters, optical modulators, and fiber-based radiation detection devices.
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Lasers, Photonics, and Biophotonics

Light with sufficiently high intensity can interact with complex molecules in unique ways. High-intensity lasers are being used by IT Collaboratory researchers to excite exotic two and three-photon processes in certain polymers, dyes, and inorganic materials, enabling novel applications in 3-D microlithography, frequency up-conversion photonic devices, and optical modulators for data communications. IT Collaboratory researchers have also developed complex organic dye molecules which alter their optical characteristics, such as optical absorption or fluorescence under visible and UV excitation, in the presence of chemical or physical environmental factors such as pH or concentration of other organic molecules. Some of these dyes can be used as sensitive in-situ­ probes of biological activity, with possible applications as pathogen detection or in metabolic analysis of living cells.
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Other

  • Bio-MEMS
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