DTU Nanolab builds new ISO 4 cleanroom for microchip production

Published: 10-May-2023

The DTU-funded building that will host the is budgeted at $50.7m and is expected to be completed in 2026

DTU is expanding its cleanroom facilities to meet high demand for microchips from companies and researchers. The expansion will also strengthen the development of quantum computers, which is based on research and development of new chips.

DTU Nanolab conducts research into the micro and nanotechnology on which the production of advanced microchips is based. In addition, DTU Nanolab grants companies and industry access to use the unique facilities in the only large-scale cleanroom in Denmark. But space is cramped.

“Already today, we’re experiencing great demand for more space. At the same time, we expect demand to increase, as nanofabrication technology is crucial in the development of quantum computers and sensors,” said Jörg Hübner, Director of DTU Nanolab.

The new cleanroom will be built as an ISO 4 cleanroom with a full clean basement (subfab) for 200-mm wafer equipment

The new cleanroom will be built at DTU Lyngby Campus and comprises an approximately 5,600 sqm two-floor building with a basement. The DTU-funded building is budgeted at DKK 345 million ($50.7m) and is expected to be completed in 2026.

EU supports production of microchips

The vast majority of all microchips are produced in Asia, including China, South Korea, and Taiwan, while the EU only produces 10% of all microchips worldwide. But, like China and the United States, the EU now wants to boost its own production of microchips to reduce dependence on producers in the rest of the world.

With a new agreement, the EU will raise DKK 323 billion for microchip production, with DKK 25 billion being earmarked for research and development of new chips. The ambition is to increase Europe’s market share to 20 per cent before the end of the decade.

“The expansion of DTU's cleanroom facilities will contribute to strengthening Denmark’s business sector, competitiveness, and digitalization capacity, as well as contribute positively to the European ecosystem for microchips,” explained Jörg Hübner.

More space for new technology

The cleanroom was last expanded in 2000 and 2003. DTU currently has 1,350 m2 of cleanroom facilities with a very wide range of machines for the production of sensors and microchips. Jörg Hübner explains that—since then—more equipment has been crammed into the cleanroom, leaving no room for additional equipment, more technologies, large international research projects, or more companies than the over 30 enterprises that currently use the facilities.

“There is a need for more cleanroom space and equipment if DTU Nanolab is to meet the demand from partners or to launch major research activities,” added Jörg Hübner.

In March, DTU signed a contract with the worldwide consulting company Jacobs, which has experience in constructing similar research and production facilities. The company has also developed the cleanrooms that DTU built 20 years ago. 

A place for technology and people

Production of nanochips and microchips requires a production environment that is free of particles and dust. Large facilities that meet these extremely stringent standards are usually only found in industry and large organisations, but—uniquely—they are also available at DTU.

The new cleanroom will be built as an ISO 4 cleanroom with a full clean basement (subfab) for 200-mm wafer equipment.

This structure provides maximum flexibility for using the cleanroom and facilitates quick adaptation of equipment to user needs.

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