17 Jun 2002
The Wake Shield Facility (WSF) is a free-flying platform used to research methods for producing exceptionally high-quality semiconductor materials in the ultra-vacuum of space. Designed and managed by the University of Houston's Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center (SVEC) in cooperation with Space Industries, the Wake Shield Facility will be integrated into the payload of the orbiter Columbia. Launch is scheduled on Oct. 31, 1996.
During its last space flight in September 1995, the WSF marked two significant technical breakthroughs. "It produced a vacuum nearly 100 times better than operating vacuum levels achievable in terrestrial vacuum chambers," explained SVEC Director Dr. Alex Ignatiev. "The second flight also yielded the purest gallium arsenide and aluminum gallium arsenide thin films ever made."
Detailed results of the mission will be published in an upcoming issue of the scientific journal Nature.