Week 2: Becoming Familiar

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Friday, June 15, 2018


Collin Flynn

Week 2 has come and gone, and I am just in disbelief that this internship is going by so quickly. The metra system has decided to cooperate with me, or maybe that was me figuring out the metra? Regardless, this past weekend all of the interns and I went to watch Pride Fest parade outside the Optical Society Headquarters. The optical society threw a nice little party leading up to parade, and as soon as the parade began we walked up to our spots we had claimed early on. Now I thought I had been to parades, religiously going to the 4th of July parade back home in Racine, but let me tell you. DC parades are like no other! Nearly 4 hours of celebrating and rooting for pride, equality, and just overall happiness, and about 1000 beads later, we all knew what a parade in DC was like (Stay tuned for the 4th of July parade)!

That night a few of us on a whim decided to walk all the way to national mall at about 3 in the morning. At normal hours, places like the Lincoln memorial, the reflecting pool, and the World War II memorial would all be packed full with people, but it being 3:00 AM and all made it possible for us to be the only ones there. We got a chance to really experience the statues, memorials and their beauty.

It’s funny, I thought after we would have all drifted apart after our first week, but luckily it seems as if our ragtag group of physics nerds grow closer by the day. We continue to spend time with one another, obviously not sick of each other yet, and that Sunday, one of the other interns had the idea to watch the movie, “The Martian.” Quite an appropriate movie considering the crowd and where some of us our working.

Working. I nearly forgot about that! This week we were able to print out the 3D model we had made (That’s my first 3D print people!). I also started learning some photolithography to help make a fan-out board for the mini electron probe microscope analyzer, or as they call it MiniEPMA.

If that term I used, photolithography, three you for a whirl, don’t fret. I just learned what it means too. Think about it as a really expensive way of taking and developing a photograph in the old days, except instead of film we use aluminum nitride wafers with gold, titanium, and photoresist. We also need to be extra careful not to get anything dirty. And at NASA, dirty is a few particles so we have to suit up and go into what they call a clean room; a room built to avoid large amounts of particles in the air- all you germaphobes would love it!

To make the fanout board we first throw on very small quantities of titanium, gold, then titanium again. Then we apply photoresist. This could be seen as making our film. We then use ultraviolet light, aka tanning bed light, to destroy the photoresist where we don’t want it. This is just like taking a photo and exposing the film to light. Finally, we do a nearly identical process to developing a photograph. We submerge the wafer in a solution, then in water, and dry it. This gave us our fan-out pattern, but we still need to prepare the board to be attached to our source... According to my mentor that may take a bit longer, but that's future Collin's problem!

That’s all for this week! 


Our 3D model scaled up 10X, the fan out board it the large circle, but it will actually be a square
Our wafer with 4 fan out boards on it

Collin Flynn