Brief History of the SEAS Cleanroom

The “original” Becton Cleanroom was built in 1988 for $1.2M with major funding from the Keck Foundation, Jones Bequest, and Yale University Science Development Fund. Its pertinent design specifications:

  • 2,600 square feet
  • One bay Class 100 with the remainder Class 1,000
  • Temperature 68 ±4° F
  • Humidity 40 ±5%
  • Staff: 1 Technician/manager
  • Entire budget paid by user fees
  • Building facilities maintained by physical plant

The original faculty founders were Richard Barker, T.P. Ma, Dan Prober, and Robert Wheeler.

Estimated research relying on cleanroom usage: $3-4 M/yr total (2005), with quantum computing alone accounting for approx. $2 M/yr, with 100% reliance on the cleanroom.

In early 2005 former Dean, Paul Fleury, formed an Executive Committee composed of Profs. T.P. Ma, J. Han, and R. Schoelkopf. The committee issued a report (6/05) finding significant problems with Becton cleanroom. These problems included:

1) Environmental systems failing

  •     Air handler past useful life
  •     Cleanroom environment no longer met specs
  •     Dehumidifier (DX coil) removed sometime in 2003
  •     Pneumatic controls antiquated, no logging of data

 2) Potentially serious safety issues

  •     Toxic/flammable gas storage not up to code
  •     Electrical code violations
  •     Wet benches: too few, flammable, ventilation inadequate

 3) Tool set out of date, maintenance problematic

  •     No plasma etching, mask making …

 4) Understaffed, no direct university support.

The University responded in several ways:

  1. Two new CR staff positions were authorized by the Provost’s office
  2. The purchase of approx. $ 1.7M in new cleanroom tools was authorized  by the Provost’s office
  3. A comprehensive cleanroom redesign was begun in 2005.  Midwest Cleanroom Associates (MCA) were selected to serve as consultants and commissioning agents on the subsequent renovation project
  4. The major renovation project construction was begun 3/07 and completed by 09/07
  5. Certification and commissioning completed by 10/07

Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science