No, no.. the blog is not dead; I just didn't have time to write and spend time on the blog.
Ok, there are so maaaany news that I don't know where to start.
Let me go by classes.
Microelectronics - The professor of this class is also the director of the http://www.nfc.umn.edu/ and he knows everything about semiconductor (just a reminder that everything in this blog is Martim's opinion only and of course I can't be responsible for anything I write here). It seems that all in semiconductor is related somehow to diffusion; therefore, my tip is: if you know all the formulas about diffusion, you will do fine for the first week. The teacher also brings some samples (e.g. semiconductor boule, arch lamps...) to the class sometimes and it is interesting to see that he cares to bring those things to class when most people don't pay too much attention to that.
Characterization class - There are 5 (maybe more maybe fewer) teachers specialist for this class and each teacher (for each instrument) determines 20% of your grade. We begun with SEM and TEM and now we are studying AFM. The same teacher that lectures is the one in the lab and that reduces redundancy in information (the microelectronics lab has different teachers for lecture and lab and because of that we many times see all things twice).
Thin films - What I like about this class is the convenience. The teacher said in the first day of class "if all the other teachers give you too much to read, tell me and I reduce my reading part. If they don't five you too much to read, I can give you more things to do". That class is that simple and easy. In most classes people would try to argue with the teacher to get reduced homework but in this class we don't even try because we know that the teacher would eventually accept and I guess the students think that that would be too easy.
Bionano - This class is located in the St. Paul campus and we don't have homework for this class (actually, we don't have homework to any class but the microelectronics one, but we have lab have reports and readings). People who like Biology, really like Biology, so they can stay reading about Biology forever. Since I don't love Biology, the 89459 reading pages are always hard for me. Do you like Biology? Good for you.
Nanoparticle - The nanoparticle class is pretty simple and consist of a total of 5 classes. This is what we usually do-> an aerosol of the solution that we want the particles, then we dry the droplets (ending up w/ the NP only), we then neutralize them, separate by sizes, and count; we introduce some variations and see how that affects the # of particles, and sizes, and charge, and all that. By the way, the particles we synthesize are of sugar, salt, or Poly-Styrene Latex (they are not dangerous at all).
Microelectronics lab - I already patterned and etched a wafer, aligned a mask, opened and closed the oxidation furnace, saw PECVD and LAD working, measured oxide thinness in the ellipsometer, and lost a pen in the fabrication facility. I also broke wafers in the right crystal plane direction. This is one of the main labs.
Overall the classes are not hard, but they take time. E.g.: is not hard to run simulation of SEM in a computer and contrast with what you get in real life but to do that may take you a full day. Understand?