Ammar Nayfeh, working at the Microsystems Technology Laboratories
Two students from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on alternative energy and sustainability, participated in a ‘nano-fabrication training’ program in the US and Turkey to gain expertise as part of an initiative to develop the UAE’s microsystems sector.
The students – Sabina Abdul Hadi and Ayman Rizk – were conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Ammar Nayfeh, Assistant Professor, Microelectronics Devices and Circuits, Masdar Institute. They were selected after they expressed interest in ‘nano fabrication’. The skills the students gained in the US and Turkey will be used in Masdar Institute’s clean room and they will share their experience with other students, who are conducting research in nano fabrication.
Sabina Abdul Hadi fabricated thin film solar cells at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, while Ayman Rizk fabricated nano-particle based flash memories at Ulusal Nanoteknoloji Araştırma Merkezi, (UNAM - National Nanotechnology Research Center) in Turkey.
The training program for the students was organized under Masdar Institute’s existing collaboration agreements with MIT and UNAM. Judy L. Hoyt, Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), affiliated with the Microsystems Technology Laboratories, hosted the program at MIT, while Dr. Ali Kemal Okyay, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, conducted the program at UNAM in Turkey.
The students gained experience for use of a clean room in a research environment, to design and fabricate devices for completion of their Master’s thesis in addition to possible publication in a journal, use their experience to help build the clean room at Masdar, and enhance research collaboration with leading research-oriented academic institutions.
Dr Nayfeh said: “We hope to generate significant interest in Microsystems especially among the UAE youth. Local success stories have the capability to create a buzz and get the youth interested in science and engineering. Trained students are vital to creating a clean-room facility at Masdar Institute, similar to the one at MIT and UNAM. More importantly, such students will help develop the UAE's fledgling Microsystems sector.”
In future, Masdar Institute seeks to reciprocate the gesture by receiving students from MIT and UNAM under the student exchange program.
Dr Nayfeh added: “Joint research projects are quite rewarding in general as participants get an opportunity to tackle a wide range of topics and use facilities or expertise from both sides. At this stage for Masdar, using the clean room brings greater benefits. In the near future, Masdar will have many tools that may not be available elsewhere in the world. However, we believe joint publications will result in greater success for us and our partner institutions.”
Dr. Ammar Nayfeh’s current research interests include thin film solar cells, low power nano-electronics, high-performance nano-electronics, nano-photonics and nano-memory technologies. He is currently working at the Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) at MIT on thin film tandem multi-junction crystalline solar cells with SiGe for improved efficiency. His teaching focus areas include Integrated Microelectronic Devices, Physics of Micro fabrication: Front End Processing, and Micro/Nano Processing Technology.
The clean room at Masdar Institute, the first in the Middle East and North Africa, will support the educational and research needs for students of Master’s program in ‘Microsystems Engineering’. It will offer state-of-the-art equipment to conduct research in semiconductor devices and fabrication technologies, and the creation of new electronic and photonic circuits.
Under existing collaboration agreements, students from Masdar Institute attend various academic institutions especially for focused seminars and workshops on diverse subject areas in the renewable and clean energy spectrum.