Today’s SNF grew out of the Integrated Circuits Laboratory, established at Stanford in the 1960’s. The ICL encompassed a broad range of research initiatives for the design, modeling, and fabrication of devices. It also included laboratory space in the basement of the McCullough building used by researchers for fabricating, characterizing, and validating new devices and materials. The ICL was well-known for the development of SUPREM (Stanford University Process Engineering Modeling), device fabrication simulators used today in research and industry throughout the world. Research in the ICL also gave rise to pioneering work in the areas of image sensors, image processing, bio probes, pressure sensors, accelerometers, implantable electronics, and high voltage drivers.
In the early 80’s, the facility was expanded and upgraded to enable development of larger, more complex devices, such as the MIPS chip and the Geometry Engine. This era also saw the collaboration of an industrial partnership with 20 leading semiconductor companies to develop a new, broader "integrated systems" approach to electronics research and education. In 1985, ICL fabrication moved into a new, state-of-the art, Allen Center for Integrated Systems cleanroom. Conceived as a BiCMOS foundry for testing new advanced chip designs, the CIS cleanroom was built to industry standards, and was arguably the most advanced, university electronics fabrication facility of the time.
As a teaching laboratory, the CIS cleanroom was used exclusively by Stanford researchers and collaborators. This changed in 1994, when the laboratory joined NSF's National Nanofabrication Users' Network. Renamed the "Stanford Nanofabrication Facility", the lab opened its doors to all researchers, including industry as well as other government and academic institutions, thus giving rise to the dynamic and diverse community of researchers who comprise SNF today. Over the years, the equipment and staff expertise has evolved to accommodate the ever-changing research needs of its labmembers.
SNF is housed in the Paul G. Allen building. Originally constructed in 1985 with generous funding from the twenty founding industrial members of the CIS program, the facility added 52,000 square feet in a dramatic 1996 expansion funded by the Paul G. Allen Foundation. Today, the lab and its infrastructure extend over three floors. The class 100 cleanroom is 10,500 square feet in area and is vibration-isolated from the rest of the building. Air handlers and head exchangers are located in the floor above the cleanroom. Support equipment, such as chilled water, vacuum pumps, air compressors, and acid waste neutralizers, are remotely located in the basement below. Corrosive and toxic gases are located in a monitored gas pad, away from the main laboratory. The DI water plant, liquid gas storage tanks, and emergency power generators are located in an outdoor area adjacent to the building.
Approaching the 30 year mark, SNF began a renovation program to update infrastructure. This renovation was funded by the National Science Foundation and matched by contributions from the University. Completed in 2012, key infrastructure was updated to current code and expanded to accommodate future growth in research space. Additional funding from the University supported additional safety & security projects, completed in 2013. In recent years, new lab facilities supporting research in areas beyond silicon have been constructed from former office spaces: the MOCVD lab (2014), the Experimental Fab facility (ExFab, 2017), and the System Prototyping Facility (SPF, 2017.)
While SNF remains firmly grounded in device fabrication technologies, expansion with the ExFab and MOCVD satellite labs and collaboration with the Electronics Shop (SPF) enables us to anticipate growing needs of the research community for new materials, multi-materials assembly, fast/flexible patterning, and rapid microprototyping.