Semiconductors Place Starkville in Every Corner of the World
October 24 — The world’s leading manufacturer of circuit board substrates perfects its product in Starkville at II-VI Advanced Materials.
“If you do some traveling outside of the country, say to China, India or Turkey, and you use your cell phone, there’s a little piece of Starkville inside the cell tower,” said Eric Bowman, the company’s site manager. “Pretty soon you’re going to find a little piece of Starkville in every electric vehicle that Toyota makes.”
Located in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology, and Economic Development Park, II-VI has just doubled its operation. Fifteen additional operators have been hired in the last two months. Four of its five onsite engineers are MSU graduates. He expects to have up to 100 employees in four years.
Bowman says he targets local hires with a preference for WorkKey certified operators accredited through East Mississippi Community College.
Production of a circuit board substrate starts with its growth in a furnace in the Pine Brook, N.J., facility. Its fabrication and preliminary characterization is done there. Then the product moves to Starkville for polishing, final polishing characterization, final cleaning and shipping.
The product is a silicon carbide wafer disc base for semiconductors that is like a very thin piece of glass. It is the first layer in production of an integrated circuit. One 150 mm diameter wafer can hold 300 to 400 computer chips.
Silicon carbide, the second hardest material known to man, is a specialty market for things that must deal with high temperatures. There is less need for cooling, so the components can handle a lot more power. Its durability makes it ideal for defense, space and mobile communication applications.
The downside of its strength is that SiC substrates are hard to manufacture, thus are quite expensive.
As very thin samples were being passed around the room, one broke. “Somebody at that table owes me $1,500,” Bowman quipped. “Actually, it’s okay. This is scrap.”
The corporation began manufacturing two inch wafers in 2002. It has just demonstrated the world’s first 200 mm (7.9 inch) wafer this year.
The former SemiSouth employee noted that he now is expanding operations into his old space in the research park. Bowman has been with II-VI for three years since SemiSouth closed. The current operation is located in Starkville because it originally was supplying the semiconductor manufacturer.
“We’ve performed so well that they keep saying, ‘This process doesn’t really work good in New Jersey; send it to Mississippi to see if they can make it work better,’” said Bowman. “My goal is to have everything from New Jersey down here.”
Just this year, the Starkville plant has ordered $4 million of new equipment. He expects to expand by $17 million in the next two years.
The 10,000 square foot facility is expanding into an additional 5,000 square feet of cleanroom space in the Powe Building. Given the SiC wafer’s minute tolerance, it must be manufactured in an area that is cleaner than a hospital operating room.
A key step in creating a cleanroom is to replace all of the ceiling tiles with High-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filters. Clean air is pushed down to the air returns in the room’s baseboards.
For the Record—October 24
Invocation and Pledge: Giles Lindley
Present — 101 (36 exempt)
Absent — 80 (25 exempt, 12 honorary)
Guests: Visiting Rotarian was Jimmy McCluskey. Member guests were Margaret Arnold Baehren, Hunter Arnold and Mary Ann Arnold of John Robert Arnold. Guests of the club were Conner, Joseph and Kristi Caples, Latrice Jordan, Diane Baker, Eric Bowman, Joy and Roger Day, Amiya Dantzler, Tina Bowman, Elisa Malzanni, RYE student, Alex Onken, Starkville Daily News, and Josh Starr, Starkville Dispatch.
Welcome Governor Fontaine
Amanda Fontaine, 2016-17 Rotary District 6820 governor, brings her Rotary vision. Briar Jones will introduce her.
Next Week: Regulation for the Public Good
Brandon Presley is Mississippi’s Northern District Public Service Commissioner. Joe Thompson will introduce him.
- President Briar reminded members to pick up Paul Harris materials from the fall social celebrating the Rotary Foundation Centennial.
- He wished Matt Matthews a happy birthday.
Meet and Greet New Members
Mark your calendar for the after-hours fellowship to get to know this year’s new members on the evening of November 15. The event is at Bin 612 from 5:30 to 7:30.
Teacher and Students of the Month—Conner Caples and Amiya Dantzler are presented as Ward-Stewart Elementary students of the month by Joy Day, their third-grade teacher. Richard Blackbourn presented the teacher of the month with a gift card for classroom supplies.
11/1, 9:00, First Presbyterian — Jeremy Nicholas
11/3, 9:15, Emerson — Chuck Rivenburgh
11/4, 10:00, First Baptist CLC — Eddie Keith