First silicon wafer etched in UAE history

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With the first-ever etching of a silicon wafer, the UAE is all set to enter the lucrative market of high-end innovation and other industrial products.
With the first-ever etching of a silicon wafer, the UAE is set to enter the lucrative market of high-end innovation and industrial products. Photo-Eric Gorski

Researchers at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MI) have made history by etching a silicon wafer for the first time in UAE’s history.

The announcement is seen as an important milestone in the country’s history as it will launch a new phase in advanced technology learning and innovation. The Masdar Institute Fabrication Facility has entered the operational phase with etching of the silicon wafer. Etching is used in micro-fabrication to chemically remove layers from the surface of a wafer during manufacturing. The facility achieved Deep Reactive Ion Etching (DRIE) through the Bosch process, which would also allow the use of silicon components in high-end wristwatches.

The DRIE was first developed for micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), which is also used for high-density capacitors for direct random access memory (DRAM). MEMS devices, like smart phones, tablets, game controllers, notebooks and digital cameras, can also be made using silicon wafers. They have also been used for creating through silicon vias (TSV’s) in advanced 3D wafer level packaging technology. The TSV interconnects have also been used for several purposes in 3D packaging applications.

According to Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, MI President; “The technology feat established by our Fabrication Facility reflects the cutting-edge facilities available with Masdar Institute to drive scientific innovation. This silicon etching means a world-class research facility is now available in Abu Dhabi with some of the brightest faculty and researchers from around the world to work with Emirati and international students.”

As the technology has wide range of applicable in augmented reality applications, indoor navigation, immersive video-gaming and improved voice communications, the industry offers a lucrative opportunity for growth and profitability. By 2018, it is estimated the ‘bioMEMS’ market is expected to grow from USD 1.9 billion in 2012 to USD 6.6 billion. The government of the UAE is focusing on providing a conducive environment for the development of innovations within different sectors of the economy.

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