Skip to comments.Silent labs for futuristic nanotechnology
Posted on 08/29/2013 9:13:16 PM PDT by neverdem
Scientists can now experiment at the atomic scale with unprecedented accuracy in new silent laboratories in Switzerland. These labs are shielded against all possible forms of background disturbances external vibrations, acoustic noise, electromagnetic fields and temperature fluctuations. It is hoped that the labs, devised by Emanuel Lörtscher and his team at IBM Zurich, will accommodate the demands of nanotechnology for the next 2030 years.
The labs were designed to screen all sources of background noise relevant to nanotechnology
When probing or building structures at the nanoscale, experimental readings are so tiny that they are easily drowned out by any background noise without a well-proofed lab, someone using the lift next door could ruin your results.
Many impressive noise-free labs have been built, but often they only block out one type of noise effectively. Lörtschers group set out to accomplish simultaneous reduction of all types of disturbances. The construction site chosen was next to a motorway and above an underground railway tunnel, intensifying their challenge.
It took three years of planning and testing before the labs at the Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center were built. Combining all approaches to block each particular source of noise together was the greatest challenge according to Lörtscher. Everyone involved had to be made aware of each others concerns. The success of the project was mainly due to the fact that all partners developed custom-made solutions compatible with the other components.
A noise-free lab in the Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center © IBM ResearchDesign features include foundations built directly onto the bedrock, which make the floors stable against vibration, and an air-conditioning system that injects air upwards through the permeable floor in non-turbulent streams. Furthermore, experiments can be controlled from outside by remote control.
Hal Amick, an expert in low-vibration environments at Colin Gordon Associates in California, US, is impressed by the work: the team has demonstrated several different approaches to achieving superb environments in a very challenging setting.
Creation of quiet space is the holy grail in the world of designing high-performance research facilities, says Amick, but future labs cannot simply copy Lörtschers design. We can't really allow one-size-fits-all thinking, he explains, as designs depend on the environment and the technology to be used in a facility.
Only two years after completion, the Swiss labs are already hosting cutting-edge nanotechnology experiments. The silent lab has opened up a whole new spectrum of experiments, says Lörtscher. In the near future a transmission electron microscope with the highest resolution in the world will be installed.
Lörtschers team are happy with the performance of their labs, but still plan to go beyond what they have achieved in terms of electromagnetic fields and temperature stability. The nice thing is that the lab has the flexibility to implement these ideas, he concludes.
E Lörtscher, D Widmer and B Gotsmann, Nanoscale, 2013, DOI: 10.1039/c3nr03373b
Interesting but very difficult to communicate with any co-workers.
This seems backwards to me. I would suppose that you could pick up vibrations from thousands of miles away in the bedrock ... but what do I know?
Complete cancellation of sound. Check.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
Air flow us UP from the floor? What better way to insure dust levitates throughout the room?
Every clean room built since the mid 70’s has airflow from the ceiling down.
Don’t think it’s necessary to be a clean room environment - the experiments are carried out in high vacuum apparatus anyway.
Has Obama commented on this yet? I live for his comments.
I love the cone of silence....funny show... thanks for the memories
Yep, worked with HV and UHV in a heavy ion accelerator lab for 6 years...believe me, with a dozen grad students around it was nothing close to clean room conditions. :-)
Anything that went *into* the experimenting chambers was cleaned with acetone and handled with gloves, of course.
A lab isn’t (usually) a manufacturing facility where specimens are transported around inbetween the different stages.
Acetone???? How did you get rid of the residue?
Maybe IBM has discovered something in the meantime.