Tyndall National Institute is a leading European deep-tech research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) hardware and systems. Specialising in both electronics and photonics – materials, devices, circuits and systems – we are globally leading in our core research areas of:
- Semiconductor wafer fabrication
- Quantum materials, devices and engineering platforms
- Micro-electronic and photonic integration and packaging
- Integrated energy systems and climate mitigation
- Biophotonics, bioelectronics, biomedical devices and systems
- Smart sensors and systems
- Human centric systems for work and living
- Optical communication systems
- Wireless communication systems
- Mixed signal and analog circuit design
As a key national institute, Tyndall’s world-class research teams perform ground-breaking research with an ‘excellent impact from excellent research’ philosophy, focusing on the delivery of value from research to the Irish economy. We work with industry and academia to transform research into products in our core market areas of electronics, communications, energy, health, agri-food and the environment.
The institute’s annual budget is competitively won from national research funders, EU Programmes, the European Space Agency and from industry collaborative projects.
With a network of over 200 industry partners and customers worldwide, we are focused on delivering real impact from our excellent research. Our ambitious five-year strategic plan sets out a clear strategy to create employment and build critical mass within the international technology space.
Tyndall is a research flagship of University College Cork (UCC), with a multidisciplinary community of over 600 researchers, engineers and support staff, of 52 different nationalities, including more than 150 full-time postgraduate students, 60% of whom move directly into industry on completion, exceeding the average across Irish HEIs of approx. 35%.
Our world-class facilities include the only full silicon CMOS, MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) and III-V semiconductor wafer fabrication research facilities and services in Ireland. We are experts at designing, miniaturising and product prototyping the outputs of our research to drive connectivity.
At Tyndall, we deliver research and innovation in Europe with local and global impact. Within the recently completed Horizon 2020, we have participated in over 111 projects with a total value of almost €800m, including significant co-funding by industry partners. Tyndall therefore contributes a very significant share of Ireland’s overall drawdown from Horizon 2020 with involvement in approximately 10% of the total Irish drawdown.
In terms of national research leadership, Tyndall is host to, or a significant lead/partner institute for, the following strategic research and technology centres:
- Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Centre for Photonics
- Microelectronics Circuits Centre Ireland (MCCI)
- European Space Agency (ESA) Space Solutions Centre Ireland
- International Energy Research Centre (IERC)
- VistaMilk the SFI Centre for precision pasture-based dairying
- CONNECT the SFI Centre for Future Networks
- CONFIRM the SFI Centre for Smart Manufacturing
- AMBER the SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering
- MaREI the SFI Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine
Tyndall operates under a unique Agreement between the Irish Government and UCC. The Agreement defines the primary role of Tyndall as providing a national focal point for excellence in deep-tech research, development and postgraduate training at the convergence of micro and nano-electronics, photonics, materials and software. Tyndall’s leadership position in these areas enables us to make a real contribution to addressing key societal challenges including climate change, sustainable living, water and food supply, cybersecurity, energy, and the provision of healthcare to an expanding and ageing population. It also enables Tyndall to continue to attract key industrial partners and world leading researchers, which are critical to international competitiveness and the ability to make a real and lasting contribution to the Irish economy.
The Silicon fabrication laboratory is configured to run 100mm substrates and maintains a CMOS compatible line. While offering a variety of full processes (CMOS - 5um and 1.5um), Silicon PIN diodes and PMOS RADFETs it also offers the following technologies wafer cleaning, thermal treatments, ion implantation, photolithography, plasma etching, plasma deposition, PVD and ALD
In the MEMS fabrication laboratory we have capability and expertise in polymer processing, photolithography, wafer bonding, bulk micromachining, plasma etching, mixed frequency plasma deposition and metal deposition. Silicon microneedles fabrication and magnetics on silicon device processing are two specific areas of interest in our MEMS lab.
In the Compound Semiconductor fabrication laboratory, research work primarily focuses on the fabrication of photonic devices on substrates comprising of Gallium Arsenide (GaAs), Gallium Nitride (GaN), Indium Phosphide (InP) and alloys. Our fabrication staff provide process support to the research activities by developing new processes in the areas of plasma etching and dielectric deposition as well as providing process expertise in the core areas of photolithography, metal evaporation, dielectric coating, sputtering, plasma deposition and etching.
The Tyndall packaging group has established an impressive range of packaging capabilities including; fiber optical packaging (Newport auto align & Nanosystec laser welder), micro optical assembly (Nanosytec nano-glue), semi- and fully-automatic flip- chip bonding with submicron precision (2 Finetech and new system approved for purchase with €1M budget), micro solder deposition using jetting technology (Pactech), ball and ribbon wire-bonding (3 systems), polymer embossing system (Jenaoptik), x-ray microscope inspection (Nordson), ultrasonic microscope (Sonoscan), environmental test chambers (multiple Heraeus systems), and wide range of optical and electron microscope systems for package analysis. These capabilities are supported by advanced design, including; optical (Lumerical and Zemax), electrical (HFSS and ADS), thermal (ANSYS and Comsol) and mechanical design (Solidworks). These capabilities have enabled the group to delivery full packaging solutions to many companies and academic researchers. Critically, the group supports multiple industrial sectors, with particularly strong collaborations in the areas of communications, medical devices and sensors.
The Electron Microscopy and Analysis Facility (EMAF) at Tyndall, is committed to deliver state-of-the-art electron microscopy characterisation with rapid turnaround time for Industry and Academia. We develop customer and product specific analysis of materials and devices and provide comprehensive understanding of the measurement results.
- Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
- Elemental analysis (EDX)
- (Scanning) transmission electron microscopy (S)TEM
- Dual beam focused ion beam (FIB)
- Electron diffraction (SAED)
- Cryo SEM for soft materials
The centre comprises frontend activities encompassing cleanroom fabrication and training facilities as well as back-end Device Forensics activities including analysis, test, reverse engineering, packaging and reliability.
Our flexible fabrication offering - FlexiFab - is in a unique position to allow for greater material exchange between the fabrication areas, whilst maintaining protocols to avoid cross contamination. The flexible exchange of materials and devices on offer here across the functional areas of CMOS, MEMs and Compound Semiconductor is unique in industrially accessible fabrication facilities. This enables the type of material integration essential for the More than Moore and IoT domains, where advanced sensors are made network aware. Our extensive ‘back-end’ facilities and expertise enable us to take the resulting functionalised devices and package them in a form that enables the customer to use them in their real world systems. Coupled with this are capabilities in reliability testing, reverse engineering, electron microscopy and analysis which together provide the diagnostic tools that allow for the forensic analysis of materials and devices.
Process & Product Development
Tyndall’s extensive fabrication facilities cover:
- Silicon MOS Fabrication
- MEMS Fabrication
- Compound Semiconductor Fabrication
- Training Facility
- E-Beam Lithography
The flexible fabrication facility enables the heterogeneous integration of materials advanced device development. This enables the type of material integration which is essential for the More than Moore and IoT domains where advanced sensors are made network aware.
The resulting functionalised devices are transferred into the Device Forensics area for packaging, analysis, reliability and test.
Complementing the ‘front-end’ fabrication capabilities, Tyndall has extensive ‘back-end’ facilities and expertise to be able to take the functionalised devices and package them in a form that enables the customer to use them in their real world systems. Married with this are capabilities in reliability testing, reverse engineering, electron microscopy and analysis which together provide the diagnostic tools that allow for the forensic analysis of materials and devices.
The particular capabilities cover the areas of:
- Electronic Packaging & Reliability analysis – wire/die bond, PCB assembly, µBGA. Environmental testing, package & failure analysis, burn-in, shock & drop, X-ray analysis, scanning acoustic microscopy (SAM).
- Electron Microscopy Analysis Facility (EMAF) – SEM, TEM, FIB, EDAX analysis, cryo-stage enabled SEM for biological sample analysis.
- DTE – IC re-engineering, patent infringement, circuit design analysis, analogue, digital & mixed signal diagnostic measurements.