Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between the MPW and Custom/Dedicated runs?

Multi-project wafer (MPW) runs: These are fabrication runs that occur roughly every two months with a design submission deadline specified in advance. Only a limited set of process options are available in MPW runs, which are designed to be compatible with other projects submitted in the same run.

The capabilities available in the MPW runs are detailed in the process specifications and submission areas.

Pros:
  • Lower price: Projects are batched together, spreading the processing costs across them.
  • Fast turnaround: The use of standard processes allows projects to be delivered on a fast and predictable timeline.
  • Consistency: Qualified processes are used in the MPW runs, delivering consistency between successive runs.
Cons:
  • Lack of flexibility: Customizations such as multiple etch depths, custom metal levels, custom SOI thickness, etc., are not permitted in MPW runs.
  • Hard deadlines: Submissions are only accepted for the pre-determined run submission deadlines.

To address the need for customizations and flexible timelines, we offer dedicated runs. These are fabrication runs that are dedicated to your project's requirements and occur independently of the MPW runs. To begin the process for a dedicated run, please contact us at support@appliednt.com. We will review your project requirements and prepare a proposal and quotation for your consideration.

Q: How do I use the results from the Design Verification Tool?

The Design Verification Tool is an online design rule check (DRC) that all MPW designs are required to pass before an order can be submitted. Detailed instructions on how to use the online DRC tool can be found here.

Q: What capabilities can you offer in the Custom/Dedicated runs?

We have completed many custom projects over the years for academic and industrial clients. A full list of the capabilities offered in our dedicated runs can be found here. Please contact us at support@appliednt.com for more information.

Q: Do you characterize the devices during the fabrication process?

Yes, we do optical and SEM imaging at many points throughout the fabrication process for quality control purposes.

Q: What is the expected delivery (turnaround) time for submitted designs?

The expected delivery time for MPW projects usually scales according to the complexity of the chip. Typically we aim for:

  • 3 to 4 weeks after deadline for silicon + cladding designs (no metal or trench)
  • 6 to 8 weeks after deadline for silicon + cladding + metallization and/or deep trench designs

Turnaround time for dedicated projects is heavily dependent on the requirements of the run. For instance, the use of standard processes will reduce the amount of non-recurring engineering (NRE) work required, which will accelerate delivery. The timeline for delivery will be indicated in the project quotation.

Q: How do you handle our designs? Are they treated as confidential material?

When a design is submitted to us online, it is temporarily stored on cloud hosting space that we lease from Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the United States. Once all designs for a particular run have been submitted, the designs are moved securely from cloud hosting to physical hard drives located at the offices of Applied Nanotools in Edmonton, Canada. The design may be archived on these hard drives for as long as two years for troubleshooting/future reference by the customer, but can be removed at any time by request.

We treat any designs that we receive as confidential material. The only third-party entities that we may disclose portions of your design to are the following:

  • Staff tool operators at the fabrication facilities that we lease equipment time/services from. We access these facilties for specific fabrication steps (such as photomask fabrication and electron beam lithography), and have agreements in place that cover the treatment of any designs received by us as confidential material.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS), who hosts our online submission system. Designs are stored temporarily on the submission server until they are moved to local hosting.

To mitigate the risk of unauthorized third-party disclosure of designs, we use industry-grade security practices such as: SSL/TLS encryption for file transfers, no storage of plain-text passwords, use of web frameworks with regular security updates, etc.