AIM Photonics removes cleanroom wall to install specialist equipment

The equipment was heavy enough to necessitate a load-spreading base to prevent them from falling through the floors and into the reception area

The American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated (AIM) Photonics’ TAP facility is a 30,000 sqft building located on the Kodak campus in Rochester, NY. Giving a tour of the facility, Ed White, Associate VP of the facility and Chairman of the National Photonics Initiative said that the plant boasts state-of-the-art equipment for the testing, assembly, and packaging (TAP) of photonic components, and potentially electronics components.

To get some of the tools that the current facility uses into the building, one entire wall had to be removed to bring them into the cleanroom by a crane. The tools were heavy enough to necessitate a load-spreading base to prevent them from falling through the floors and into the reception area, White said.

“300 mm semiconductor tools are big; they’re heavy. To give you an idea, our litho tool 5520 Canon eyeline stepper: 23,000 lbs,” White said. “Some of the tools are so precise, we’re taking a 10 µ (1/10 the thickness of a human hair) trying to match it up with a 400- × 200-nm waveguide — so precise that we had to put vibration isolation in under some of those tools.”

The facility has four layers of security. Employees scan their badges on the first, fourth, and fifth floors to enter a cleanroom, and once more to operate a machine.

The cleanrooms are connected with clean stairwells so employees don’t need to regown when travelling from room to room. Cleanrooms are also lit with yellow light so as not to damage sensitive materials such as silicon wafers with UV light. To achieve this, the fluorescent lights are fitted within yellow tubes to filter out the harmful UV portion of the spectrum, at about 350 to 360 nm.

The facility does a great deal of work with the US Department of Defense and many large companies, and a fair amount of the specifics related to projects are protected under nondisclosure agreements. The facility enforces a strict no-cameras policy, and phones are to be kept in one’s pocket.

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