KAUST Core Labs
KAUST offers its faculty a wide range of state-of-the-art facilities for nanofabrication and nanocharacterization. The fabrication of the devices is done in our clean room, which is class 100 (i.e., 100 particles with a diameter ≥0.5 µm per cubic meter) and occupies 2000 square meters. This includes multiple essential tools to deposit all kinds of materials (electron beam evaporator, sputtering) and pattern them (photolithography, maskless laser lithography, and electron beam lithography). The students work with 4-inch wafers, which is close to what they would find in the industry. We also have a thin film deposition laboratory with atomic layer deposition. See the video below for more details.
The range of characterization tools available is incredible: transmission electron microscopy doted with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and electron, scanning electron microscopy doted with a focused ion beam (which we use a lot to prepare thin lamellae for cross-sectional inspection), auger electron spectroscopy, nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry, X-ray diffraction, and many others. The best three points of the Core Labs are that: i) there is more than one instrument for each type, meaning that all the machines are always available even if one equipment is under maintenance (for example, it has 8 transmission electron microscopes); ii) the machines come with an expert scientist who can make complex interpretations and processing of the images using advanced software, which is very useful to understand what we are seeing; iii) the students can operate all the machines after passing the completed training, which is a very useful skill for them when looking for a job after graduation; and iv) access to all the machines is unlimited for KAUST faculty, as they don’t need to apply for external funding to access to them.