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Semiconductor Device Processing

The goal of the Semiconductor Device Processing program is to introduce the fundamental concepts and processes used in integrated circuit design and production so that students can be more effective problem solvers in the industrial environment. Specifically, we aim to instill an appreciation of the advantages and limitations of modern semiconductor technology, unveil the chemistry behind the "recipes" used in chip fabrication, and introduce the challenges that are currently faced in the industrial setting.


Traditionally the preparation of electronic materials and the fabrication of microelectronic devices have been the realm of electrical engineers and applied physicists. Yet, many of the crucial processes employed in the semiconductor industry draw upon chemical principles and many problems require chemical solutions. For instance, quality control, process optimization / troubleshooting, and development of emerging technologies (e.g. methods that will further reduce the size of microelectronic devices) all rely on chemical processes. The traditional undergraduate coursework does not adequately prepare chemistry students to take an active role in solving these problems and developing new technologies. Our Master's program utilizes the fundamental materials knowledge of the students and imbues them with the necessary skills needed to excel in the semiconductor industry.

Strategy: Why teach chemists about semiconductor devices

Chemistry is a central science in the field of electronic materials design and fabrication and the time is right for chemists to make key contributions to the field. Key components of this additional training include: an introduction to the basics of semiconductor fabrication, a familiarization with the conceptual foundations and terminology of the fabrication process, and an understanding of the present challenges faced in the industry. Although often thought of as applied procedures or "recipes", many of the semiconductor fabrication processes rely heavily on chemical methods. Some illustrative examples of these important chemical methods include solid-state chemistry (diffusion), surface chemistry/reactivity (oxide growth, metal adhesion), and polymerization and kinetics of dissolution (photoresists).

Curriculum: How we prepare students for careers in the semiconductor Industry

The courses and labs have been designed to not only teach the fundamentals of semiconductor technology, but also to introduce and instill the soft skills such as teamwork, problem solving and communicating (orally and in writing) that are so critical to succeed in any industrial environment. This is accomplished through three intensive summer courses.

  • Semiconductor Processing and Characterization Techniques
  • Semiconductor Device Physics
  • Device Processing and Characterization Lab
  • These courses are designed to remove students from the typical academic environment, which focuses on independent study and examination and instead places them into an environment which more closely resemblses industry. Students in our program will be placed into groups and the success of the individuals will be based on their ability to communicate and work together to achieve solutions to the problems presented. Student's profesional development will take center stage by participating in resume writing workshops, mock interviews and weekly power point presentations.


    David C. Johnson, Professor of Chemistry, Inorganic chemistry; B.A., Rutgers University, 1978. Ph.D., Cornell University, 1983. Research Interests: Novel approaches to solid state synthesis of new materials.

    James E. Hutchison, Professor of Chemistry, B.S., University of Oregon, 1986. Ph.D., Stanford University, 1991. Research Interests: Nanoelectronics, chemically-modified surfaces, green materials chemistry.

    Mark C. Lonergan, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, B.S., University of Oregon, 1990. Ph.D., Northwestern University, 1994. Research Interests: Study of polymer blends, composites and copolymers in which at least one component is optically or electrically active, such as a conducting polymer or inorganic superconductor.