Illinois Plasma Institute expands space in Research Park


Phillip Kisubika

Illinois Plasma Institute expands space in Research Park

As the new school year gets going, the Illinois Plasma Institute is continuing to grow. The IPI, located in the University of Illinois’ Research Park, has purchased more space in its building and is making room for more equipment and experiments.

A quick walk through the facility on Oak Street shows a place where important work is happening during a time of expansion and renovation. “Each of the companies working here is so excited about the opportunities, that they want to bring more projects and people," said David Ruzic, Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering in NPRE and the IPI's director. "We need more room to do the work.”

There are currently three companies working with the IPI. LytEn, a California-based company that focuses on applying Silicon Valley technology to carbon, was the latest to join up with the IPI earlier this year.

LytEn joined Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL), an electronics and semiconductor company, and Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co., Ltd. (TOK), a Japanese chemical company specializing in micro processing technology, as partners with IPI. TEL is one of the three companies worldwide that make etching and deposition equipment for the semiconductor industry. TOK works with photolithography in producing photo resist chemical solutions that clean microchips after they have undergone plasma etching.

As for who is working in the IPI space, there are currently six graduate students, eight undergrads, and four new MEng in Plasma students who are company employees in the building. “That’s the big benefit of IPI,” Ruzic said.

The majority of the latest renovations are expected to be completed by the end of August.  Work on some specialized areas will continue into the fall. “The synergy between the companies and our researchers is fantastic," Prof. Ruzic said. "As we attract more partners, we will need even more space. This renovation will not be our last!”