Berkeley and Stanford launch nanofabrication partnership with TSI Semiconductors

The College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley today announced that its Marvell Nanofabrication Laboratory, along with Stanford University’s Nanofabrication Facility, has initiated a virtual technology transfer exercise with TSI Semiconductors, LLC, a specialty foundry offering flexible technology development and advanced manufacturing solutions for projects ranging from the smallest to very large lot sizes.

The technology transfer exercise will be conducted with TSI’s research and development organization, Technology Development & Commercialization Services (TDCS), at the firm’s corporate headquarters in Roseville, CA. TDCS provides dedicated fabrication equipment to enable clients to manage their own development activities.

Marvell Nanofabrication LaboratoryVisitors tour the Marvell Nanofabrication Laboratory in UC Berkeley's Sutardja Dai Hall. (Photo by Aaron Walburg / CITRIS)The Berkeley and Stanford laboratories and TDCS are mapping a large range of fabrication requirements to process technologies available at their facilities so that start-up companies can efficiently translate their proof-of-concept prototypes into production-approved process flows.

“Start-up companies need greater assistance making the leap from academic research facilities to development and production centers,” said Ming Wu, faculty director of Berkeley’s Marvell Nanofabrication Laboratory and Nortel Networks Distinguished Professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences. “The earlier the Berkeley NanoLab prepares a company for transition, the greater the chance their technology will make it to market.”

Roger Howe, faculty director of the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility and Ayer Professor of Engineering, described the collaboration as “an accelerator for lab-to-fab transition. Just as universities train students and prepare them for employers, our publicly available academic research facilities are training start-ups and preparing them for production.”

With its 8-inch fabrication plant in Roseville, TSI can manufacture in a large array of fabrication processes that include analog/mixed-signal; deep-submicron; high-voltage BCDMOS, including SOI for power management applications; and solutions such as novel materials structures and devices.

Wilbur Catabay, TDCS’s chief technology officer and vice president–engineering, explained that a well-developed process is in place for welcoming new customers and products to the Technology Development & Commercialization Services Center. This process focuses upon translating customer prototype inputs into specific fabrication sequence outputs. Defining this process to academic research labs, where many start-ups develop their prototypes, is a way universities can prepare TDCS customers before they even arrive at the Service Center.

Wu emphasized that TDCS’s focus upon the output requirements is key. “Just because a start-up made a prototype using a specific process doesn’t mean that in production it must be done the same way. If a large fab has a better characterized process that delivers the same result, that’s the way to go.”