Vicky DiadiukDiadiuk retired earlier this year after overseeing the fab at MTL for twenty-seven years.
In the mid-1980s, the US was falling behind in semiconductor device manufacturing. MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science anticipated the exponential growth in the industry and established the Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) in 1984. The heart of MTL was the fab – a cleanroom in which “chips” could be fabricated.
In 1996, Vicky Diadiuk ’73, ScD ’78, who had previously worked at Lincoln Laboratory on Indium Phosphide (InP) photodetectors, joined MTL as a principal research engineer to manage the fab operations. After twenty-seven years of overseeing the fab at MTL, Diadiuk retired earlier this year when the transition of the cleanroom to MIT.nano, housed in the Lisa T. Su Building (Building 12), was complete.
“Running the fabs at MTL was the perfect job for the second half of my career. It gave me the opportunity to do technically-challenging work with incredible staff, faculty, students, and industrial sponsors, in an environment of full collaboration,” Diadiuk says.
When Diadiuk joined MTL, the fab was grappling with the challenge of how to integrate new materials alongside the traditional silicon in semiconductor fabrication. The introduction of materials like gold required careful separation of processes to avoid cross-contamination. According to Diadiuk, MTL’s culture of collaboration allowed the introduction not only of many new materials such as Gallium Nitride (GaN), but also of many new types of devices such as microelectromechanical systems or “MEMS.”
In 2000, taking advantage of industrial donations, the fab’s machines were all re-tooled to be able to handle 6”-diameter wafers, bringing more modern processes to the fab. Once more, MTL’s culture of collaboration manifested itself. Everyone worked together to acquire and install the 6”-inch machines, without derailing on-going projects.
Over the years, Diadiuk developed close friendships with the many students, faculty, and staff who worked at MTL. Like Diadiuk, a number of staff have worked at MTL for decades. She did the math and between herself and 14 other colleagues, they had a cumulative 422 years of service to MTL.
As she transitions into retirement, Diadiuk is looking forward to spending more time on her other passions: outdoor activities, environmental initiatives, and animal rights.
Reflecting on nearly three decades at MTL, Diadiuk hopes that the culture of collaboration and collegiality that permeated the labs and offices at MTL carries on, both at MTL and at MIT.nano.
“The culture of MTL is incredibly unique. I’m still in touch with people who were students in 1996. Now their kids are in college. That doesn’t happen everywhere. Even though I’m retiring, I’m still a part of this really strong community,” adds Diadiuk.