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Policies and Pricing

NCF Safety Exam

Section 1 - NCF User Policy Heading link

User responsibilities:


  • Pass a clean room safety and gowning exam. All visitors, who have passed the safety exam, may enter the NCF lab and clean room spaces, if only to observe.
  • Certification by an NCF trainer that they are capable of operating each piece of equipment they intend to use. The NCF trainer will check that the user understands the operating principles of the equipment as well as the exact operating procedures before the user can be listed as a “user” of that piece of equipment. Each piece of equipment typically requires 1 to 5 half-day training sessions before the user is ready to be certified as a “user” by an NCF trainer. See section 2 “Training” below.
  • “Users” must follow all guidelines taught during training when operating each piece of equipment and sign in the appropriate logbook. NCF users must sign in the log book BEFORE they use a piece of equipment and they must sign out AFTER they are finished with it. All Users must also sign into UICore, the billing and reservation database system, if a reservation time has been entered.
  • Safety glasses must be worn at ALL times in any wet bay in the clean room: photo lithography, wet etching I, and wet etching II.
  • Open toed shoes are not allowed in the clean room, and legs must be completely covered (no shorts, skirts…). Exposed legs as well as nylon socks or stockings are not allowed.
  • Meet with the facility manager once a month to review their NCF activities.
  • Attend 90% of the NCF meetings and give a talk about their research once per semester.
  • Work in the NCF only during regular hours, Monday to Friday 8am – 5:30pm, when UIC ERF building is open. For continued work in the NCF outside normal facility hours, see the section entitled “Extended Access Policy” below.
  • Observe the NCF rules on what chemicals are used in each clean room bay.
    No chemicals should be stored in the pass-through.
  • Observe the safe handling and disposal of wet chemicals.
  • Report all equipment problems immediately to the facility lab manager.
  • Equipment must be reserved using the RRC-NCF UICore database system, and if a user is not present at the beginning of their reserved time slot, then they will lose their reservation.
  • Acknowledge the NCF in any publication that is supported by research carried out with NFC facilities.
  • Provide the laboratory director with PowerPoint slides and a summary of their NCF activities for promotional purposes.

If any member of the NCF staff (facility director, facility lab manager, or graduate research assistant trainer) feels that any user is not capable of carrying out their responsibilities they will immediately terminate the user’s NCF access. The faculty supervisor, and the NCF staff will then determine how to correct the situation and if NCF access can be restored. Depending on the circumstances of the problem, NCF access can be suspended for 2 weeks or more. NOTE: There are no exceptions, even though it comes at an awkward time in the user’s research. The NCF user fee will not be refunded in these situations.

Section 2 - Training Heading link

All NFC users are entitled to watch other users operate equipment for free, but most of our users find it easier to arrange for personal or group training by our NFC Trainers. Non-NFC Student Users may NOT train other student users. The amount of training required to become an official “authorized user” of each piece of equipment varies with the equipment and the individual. The most difficult pieces of equipment take approximately 3-5 (approx. 1 hour) sessions, and several easy pieces can be learned in 1 session. The user must be checked-out by the NFC manager, Dr. Seyoung An, or an assigned NCF Staff member, to demonstrate that they can safely and responsibly operate the equipment. Users may request a check-out after one training session  minimum required), but failure to pass a check-out immediately results in two additional training sessions being required.

NFC trainers can check-out a user temporarily to allow him/her to use the equipment. Fees and scheduling of check-outs by NFC staff are the same as for training. Check-outs cannot be combined with a training session (exceptions will occasionally be made) to ensure that the user remembers how to safely and responsibly operate the equipment, even a few days or weeks later. Users can occasionally get their own work done while being trained; depending on the class size.

To request specific instrument training, check-out, or process assistance, users must email a training request to the lab manager ( The normal procedure is to request a training session, and the NFC staff will attempt to find a mutually agreeable time in the current or following week. This lets the NFC use its staff and equipment as efficiently as possible. On occasion, a user needs immediate training that week, so the NFC staff will make every effort to accommodate their request, but the training fees may be doubled.

Training Fees for NCF Users One User Two Users (Shared Training)
UIC and IL Non-Profit Users NCF Staff or GRA $65/hr $40/hr added user
Non-UIC Users (other Non-Profit & Industrial) NCF Staff or GRA $100/hr $55/hr added user

UIC rates apply only if ALL training participants are affiliated with UIC. Up to 4-6 participants, based on equipment.

The fee for shared training can be calculated by following formula:

Total fee = training hours * [base charge additional hourly fee*additional number of user]

Base charge is $65 if all trainees are UIC users, and $100 if one of trainees is non-UIC.

Additional hourly fee=$20

Additional number of user=total trainee number-1

Anyone who has a scheduled training session will be required to email Dr. Seyoung An at least one business day in advance in order to cancel a training session without being charged. In other words, if you need to cancel a training session scheduled for 9:00am Monday, you must let Dr. An know by 9:00am the provious Friday. We have to do this in order to keep our training charges as low as possible, and to use our training staff efficiently.

Users must be re-certified on each piece of equipment they are using once per year of uninterrupted access, or at the beginning of interrupted access, if the absence lasted three months or longer. This is done to ensure the user is still able to safely operate the equipment after a prolonged period of time.

Section 3 - Extended Access Policy Heading link

Users who have current clean room access and have qualified for extended access (special safety training required) can have access to the two dry bays in the clean room outside of normal hours (M-F 8am-5:30pm). The special training required to qualify for extended access privileges will have to be repeated annually and will be offered through both the NCF and UIC  EHSO training programs.

Extended access to the three wet bays (photo, wet etch I, and wet etch II) will require clearing the activity in advance with the NCF manager, Dr. Seyoung An. A second person who also has extended NCF ID access will have to be present, and within viewing or hearing range in the clean room, when anyone is in any of the three wet chemical bays. This means that if someone needs to use the photolithography bay a second user who also has extended access privileges must also be in the photolithography bay as well. All NCF users must immediately notify the NCF manager of any equipment damage the next day. If equipment damage is discovered and responsibility has not been determined, then those users recorded to have entered on the night in question will risk loss of their extended hours privileges.

Section 4 ­ - Precious Metals Heading link

The NCF access fee does not include the use of precious metals for evaporation. Precious metal sources, typically gold and platinum, can be signed out for use. Your account will be charged only for the material consumed, plus a $5 fee for each gram of material used.

NOTE: The cost of the metal charged will be the cost that the NCF pays for the material when it was ordered and NOT the daily market price.

The current price charged for use of the NCF gold and platinum evaporation sources are listed below. These prices are subject to change with market conditions. The members of the NCF will always be informed prior to any new posting.

Gold = $63.00/gram

Platinum = $58.00/gram

Should the precious metal source or crucible be damaged, lost, or stolen, the user will be held responsible and his or her account will be charged for the full replacement cost.

Users are free to supply their own material or use others’ sources. Users are simply asked to clear the source’s purity level with the facility manager first.

Section 5 - NCF fees Heading link

The following fees apply to anyone who wants to use the NCF facilities. These fees will be reviewed at least once a year and adjusted by the NCF Director, the Research Resources Center Director, and the Dean of the College of Engineering as needed to make sure the operating expenses of the NCF are covered by these fees.

The I-Card office at UIC charges a $10 fee for new cards it issues. NCF will sometimes absorb this fee when new users are issued their I-Cards, but will apply this $10 charge to the user’s account during the next billing cycle.

For UIC and Non-Profit Users, the following fees will be charged: Heading link

Type of User Administrative Fee Facility Usage Fee
UIC User $85/month $33/hr
IL Non-Profit User $85/month $33/hr
Other Non-Profit User $85/month $40/hr

Note: For all UIC Users, the Facility Usage Fee is capped at $1200 per user per month. For many users from one UIC faculty group (research faculty, postdocs and students), arrangements can be made to further reduce total monthly fees. See Dr. Seyoung An for details.

Note: Until further notice: Administrative fees have been suspended.

For Large Industrial and Small Business Users, the following fees will be charged: Heading link

Note: Small businesses have less than 25 employees.
Type of User Contract Fee Facility Usage Fee
Industrial User for 1 year contract $16500 $50/hr
Industrial User for 6 months contract $9900 $50/hr
Industrial User for 1 month contract $4400 $50/hr
Industrial User for 1 week contract $1650 $50/hr
Industrial User for 1 day contract $650 $50/hr
Small Business User for 1 year contract $13200 $50/hr
Small Business User for 6 months contract $7700 $50/hr
Small Business User for 1 month contract $3300 $50/hr
Small Business User for 1 week contract $1320 $50/hr
Small Business User for 1 day contract $500 $50/hr

Instrument Use Fee:

Instrument are charged a reservation fee when they are reserved under the UICore system.. the fee is assessed if the user fails to use the system. In general, there is a minimum system use fee of either $10 or $20 and in some cases a rate fee based on total time used. Users should request pricing info before using the required instrument.

Sign-out Fee:

New sign-out procedure for LEAVING the NCF, beginning 10/1/2016:

In order to motivate our users to clean out lockers, drawers, properly dispose of chemicals, and return keys, when their NTC access ends, we are going to start charging each user $200, if users fail to properly sign out.

Sign-out requirements:

  • Empty all occupied lockers and drawers
  • Any chemicals that were brought into NCF must be either disposed of or taken away
  • Return any locker/room keys to Dr. Seyoung An
  • Card access to the cleanroom and ERF building must be terminated (NCF’s responsibility)

In addition, all users will be required to go through a final walk-though of the clean room with the laboratory manager to ensure that the user has completely and properly removed any old equipment and chemicals belonging to the user.

STS Deep RIE Users: System is down and all system use is suspended until further notice.

Pricing for use of the STS DRIE has been changed as follows:

  1. Setup fee has increased from $100 to $200. This covers the cost of LN2 required for the machine and staff time needed to start the system up and to shut it down at the end of day.
  2. Tooling change fee = $200. If the User asks to change the existing tooling size in the system this fee will be charged. 48 hours’ notice is required for tooling changeover requests.
  3. Plasma ON time = $5/minute for industrial users and $3/ minute for non-profit users. Only the actual plasma etching time will be charged. Users are asked to track their total process etch time.
  4. System sign-in / sign-out is now required.
  5. An Oxygen clean at the end of processing is also required, but the user will not be charged for O2 clean plasma time. The clean cycle time is to be determined by the NTC staff.


Charges for depositions and oxidation are included in hourly clean room access fee.

Chemicals and targets:

The NCF provides for its users standard photoresists, chemicals, gases and deposition targets.

User requests for purchase of atypical chemicals, PVD targets, and gases must be first approved by the NCF laboratory manager, Dr. Seyong An, and will be handled on a case by case basis. Users must discuss with Dr. Seyong An any new chemicals that they want to bring into the NCF and provide him with MSDS sheets.


The sponsor of the user is responsible for the cost of repairing any equipment that was broken by a user who was not officially certified as a “user” of that piece of equipment, or if the equipment was used in an inappropriate manner.

Special Orders:

Special materials or order items ordered through NCF, will be charged the cost of material/product plus the service charge of $25.