7.0 Chemical Safety Issues

This section deals with all aspects of chemical handling.

7.1 Authorization

Only persons who have been trained and reached user status on specific chemical processes may handle chemicals. Trainees must be supervised and receive explicit permission from the person training them before handling chemicals.

7.2 Material Safety Data Sheets

MSDS sheets for chemicals used at the nanoFAB are organized alphabetically in binders which are located in the characterization room. A sign shows the location of the binders.

7.3 Wet Processing Areas

Wet etch processes will only occur in designated wet etch areas. These are: the two wet decks and fume hoods in the wet etch room. The fume hoods can only be used for processes that have been approved by the nanoFAB Director and/or process staff. The preferred site for most processing is the wet decks. The wet deck in lithography is only for lithographic wet processing (solvents and developers only). There are great dangers if incompatible wet etch solutions are used on the same wet deck. If a wet deck is being used for an acid etch, only acid processing can occur on this deck (until it is cleaned up). This is also true for organic, base, and piranha solutions.

The user who books a wet deck has first rights to which process (acid, base, organic) that will occur on the wet deck during their processing. This user can decide if other users can share the wet deck during their processing or not. The user who has booked the system has the right to say “Sorry, but I have booked the wet deck and I cannot share the deck”.

The Aisle 2 wet deck is dedicated to piranha cleaning. If you require a piranha solution, you can use this wet deck for your processing. There will often be a number of piranha solutions on this wet deck, as it takes time for the solutions to cool before disposal.

7.4 Labeling Containers and Etch Solutions

All containers MUST be labeled with the users name, the date and what chemical is in the container. You must also remove the label once the containers have been cleaned and before they are put back on the shelf.

Containers for long-term storage must have the users name, the chemical and the date on them. If not, the solutions will be disposed of.

7.5 Clean up after processing

All users must clean up after they are finished processing in an area. This means wiping the area down, removing the containers from the dump rinser, and cleaning anything that is required. It is the responsibility of the user to ensure the area is as clean as, or cleaner than, how they found it.

7.6 Importing Chemicals

Any person who wishes to bring a chemical onto nanoFAB premises must obtain approval from nanoFAB staff. If the chemical that you wish to bring in is listed in our MSDS binders then you must talk to nanoFAB staff in regards to handling and storage procedures. However, if the chemical does not appear in our MSDS binders then permission from one of the nanoFAB Chemical Technologists must be received. If the chemical has not been used, previously, in the facility, the staff member and the user must determine the safety concerns with the chemical (if any) and develop procedures for safely working with this chemical. The procedure of bringing a new chemical into the facility is called the ‘Chemical Import Policy”.

The procedure for bringing a new chemical into the facility is:

  1. Acquire MSDS sheets for the chemical (from at least two suppliers or web sites if possible).
  2. Read and understand the MSDS sheet.
  3. Determine how much of the chemical will be used during processing.
  4. Research the common concerns are with this chemical, procedures for handling, and disposal.
  5. Fill out the online Chemical Import Form.
  6. It will be determined if the chemical can be handled safely in the facility (this could entail research by the user into proper handling techniques).
  7. If approved, the User and the appropriate nanoFAB staff will develop safe procedures for working with the chemical.

Note: No chemical may be brought on-site without prior nanoFAB approval.

If a user is found to be working with an unapproved chemical or any chemical in an unsafe manner, disciplinary action may occur.

7.7 Empty Chemical Bottles

Empty bottles should be rinsed three (3) times by the users who empty the bottle. The bottle should be labeled as a “Washed Bottle” and deposited in the washed bottle bin. Empty photoresist bottles should not be rinsed. They will be disposed of as toxic waste.

7.8 Hazardous Chemical Gear (Heavy Gloves and Capes)

Protective chemical gear is not to be worn outside the two wet processing aisles. The gear must be removed before leaving the wet processing area or handling any equipment outside the wet processing area. The gear must be cleaned and dried before putting it away.

7.9 Emergency Telephone Numbers

  • EMERGENCY  911
  • Michael Hume (cell) 587-879-1519


  • Call 911
  • Identify yourself
  • Tell them what the emergency is:
  • Tell them the location: nanoFAB W1-060 ECERF Building 9107-116 Street

7.10 Chemical Hazards

A variety of chemical hazards exist in the nanoFAB. nanoFAB users are expected to educate themselves about chemicals, take the necessary precautions associated with chemicals, and conduct themselves in a safe manner when handling chemicals.

Hydrofluoric Acid (HF)

HF burns are extremely serious and result in massive tissue damage. HF burns may not cause discomfort until long after exposure. If a user contacts HF, or suspects they have contacted HF, flush the area well with water for 1 minute. Apply calcium gluconate gel to the affected area. Contact nanoFAB staff immediately.

Calcium chloride is used to neutralize solutions containing HF.  It is added in a 3 to 1 ratio before aspiration.

Further safety instructions are in the Standard Operating Procedure.


Piranha is only used in a designated area.  No other process is allowed on this designated wet deck. Further safety instructions are in the Standard Operating Procedure.

Cryogenic Liquid Nitrogen (LN2)

Cryogenic hazards exist in the nanoFAB. nanoFAB users should familiarize themselves with cryogenic materials to avoid injury.

LN2 is used throughout the lab. LN2 has a sufficiently low temperature, -196°C (77°K), to burn skin from freezing and to crack the flooring. nanoFAB users should take all necessary precautions when working with or around LN2.

  • Only authorized personnel may fill LN2 containers.
  • Only containers designed for transporting LN2 are allowed.
  • Special gloves must be worn when handling LN2


Because of the potential exposure to chemicals, working in the nanoFAB while pregnant is at the users own risk.