Japan Today

Inside a semiconductor 'clean room' at Japan's top university


The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2024 AFP

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

PhD student Kei Misumi, 27, who regularly works in the clean room, told AFP he hopes such advanced technology will further enrich people's lives.

This is a rather fluffy ending to the article.

Microchip technology is at the center of a global conflict between China's team and America's team. There are implications for AI dominance, which translates into military dominance. A little more on the security measures to protect the technology in this lab might be worth mentioning.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The article is a bit confusing, it should mention that the photo and the PhD student are from Prof. Yoshio Mita's lab, who is doing basic and applied research on a variety of devices. The research he does at the university is mostly basic research, nobody does sensitive stuff with graduate students, and there are also foreigners in his lab. But he implements his basic findings through many collaborations with companies, and of course that stuff is patented.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

please dont accept any chicom student inside this lab. They will be wearing thick glasses, polite, and keen on learning / doing the research for the University. But once they get everything and graduated, guess what is the first to-do thing in their list? they will buy the ticket and fly back china ASAP and dispose all the secret technology to the competitors company, copy and paste every single things.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Yes, maybe there are some unexpected incidental lucky hits with this research facility. Anyway, that's only a little playground for educational purposes, practical training and a bit of hobby research. Np one can tell me that this facility is financed and equipped such, that it somehow or nearly can mess with real global players, the biggest chipmakers like TSMC etc and the real groundbreaking research that is done there and the productive research results that are generated there.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Mark, so you are saying the University of Tokyo (or any other university) should reject applications for graduate studies from students of certain nationalities?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

that's only a little playground for educational purposes

Yes, otherwise known as a "university lab".

Np one can tell me that this facility is financed and equipped such, that it somehow or nearly can mess with real global players

Of course not. That's not its purpose. Its purpose is to train the people who later work at the "real global players". Or did you think the people working there are picked off the street and trained on the job until they get it right?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

These semi-conductor universities and companies better be more stringent about who they let in...

A Chinese national is on trial in South Korea for allegedly smuggling microchip technology to China. Officials said the suspect once worked for chipmaker SK Hynix before taking a job at Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mark is right on.

See my post above.

timeon Today 11:17 am JST

Mark, so you are saying the University of Tokyo (or any other university) should reject applications for graduate studies from students of certain nationalities?

Certain communist countries. AND their puppet nations, too.

Not only should UOT reject such applications, they should also report these applications to Intelligence and Counter-Espionage units for further investigations.

Also, don't forget about QUAN HENGDAO, a University Researcher who was arrested in Ibaraki last year for stealing Japanese tech and passing it to china-nese firms.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sounds very similar to the biosecurity rules for entering a hog barn.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I remember a clean room from more than 60 years ago. It was involved in making things for NASA. At the time I thought it was cool and amazing. I still do.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To study semiconductors at Japan's top university, first you need the right clothes -- protective overalls, shoe covers, plastic gloves and a lightweight balaclava to keep your hair out of the way.

Those are called "bunny suits" - yes, really

Clean rooms, a vital part of semiconductor factories, are also found at such universities, where aspiring tech innovators conduct research.

Those clean rooms are 10,000x cleaner than an average room. It has to be that clean - any bit of contaminant can ruin a whole chip

Here's a quick summary of what it takes to build a full-blown fab:


A typical fab includes 1,200 multimillion-dollar tools and 1,500 pieces of utility equipment. It costs about $10 billion and takes three to five years and 6,000 construction workers to complete. Three of the fab’s four levels support the clean room, the only place where actual chip production occurs.

First level: Interstitial and fan deck

The fan deck houses systems that keep the air in the clean room particle-free and precisely maintained at the right temperature and humidity for production.

Second level: Clean room level

A clean room is made up of more than 1,200 factory tools that take pizza-size silicon wafers and eventually turn them into hundreds of computer chips. Clean room workers wear bunny suits to keep lint, hair and skin flakes off the wafers.

Fun fact: Clean rooms are usually lit with yellow lights. They are necessary in photolithography to prevent unwanted exposure of photoresist to light of shorter wavelengths.

Third level: Clean subfab level

The clean sub fab contains thousands of pumps, transformers, power cabinets and other systems that support the clean room. Large pipes called “laterals” carry gases, liquids, waste and exhaust to and from production tools. Workers don’t wear bunny suits here, but they do wear hard hats, safety glasses, gloves and shoe covers.

Fourth level: Utility level

Electrical panels that support the fab are located here, along with the “mains” — large utility pipes and ductwork that feed up to the lateral pipes in the clean sub fab. Chiller and compressor systems also are placed here. Workers who monitor the equipment on this level wear street clothes, hard hats and safety glasses.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites