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Undergraduate and Graduate Students Collaborate to Improve Microelectronic Fabrication

May 30, 2017   |   Dartmouth School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

Thanks to advances in microelectronics, the typical smart phone today has more computing power than the first moon lander. Microelectronics involves the fabrication of minute electronic components with features on the micrometer scale or smaller. These advances are known to be slowing, and a collaboration between the Department of Chemistry and Thayer School of Engineering, led by Katherine A. Mirica, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, and Douglas W. Van Citters, Assistant Professor of Engineering at Thayer School of Engineering, have an innovative solution that may keep the microelectronics industry advancing.

The solution to the problem was to introduce a new method of temporary adhesion by using a group of compounds capable of subliming — directly transforming from a solid to a gas (like moth balls or dry ice) — as adhesives. These sublimable adhesives are implemented in a similar manner to other glues, bonding the surfaces together once cured. The novelty lies in using sublimable small molecules (in stark contrast to the typical polymeric adhesives encountered in glues, tapes, and caulks) while achieving strong adhesion (comparable to tape and Krazy glue). With their first paper on the project published in February in Chemistry of Materials, the group now looks toward expanding the breadth of their adhesives and understanding the fundamental science at hand.

In addition to Mirica and Van Citters, the research team consists of two graduate students Haydn T. Mitchell and Nicholas D. Blelloch, postdoctoral researcher Merry K. Smith, and two freshman undergraduate interns Carly C. Tymm '20 and Louisa C. Greenburg '20 sponsored by the Women In Science Project (WISP).

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