Nanotech Building to open this month

After two years of construction, the Marcus Nanotechnology Research Center Building (NRCB) will open Oct 31. When it is completed, it will be one of the largest nanotechnology research centers in the country.

Located at the intersection of Atlantic and Ferst Dr., the $80 million building boasts over 15,000 square feet of clean room space, almost double the existing clean room space available for research.

“Over 10,000 square feet of clean space will be dedicated to semiconductor research, and the remaining 5,000 square feet will be dedicated to biological clean room research,” said Bob Rose, the assistant director of operations at the Microelectronics Research Center. The biological clean room will have two bays of Bio Safety Level-2 (BSL) and six bays of BSL-1 space.

“Each clean room will be fitted with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters [or] ultra-HEPA filters,” Rose said. This will help keep the air in the room very clean and allow nano-scale experiments to take place.

The facility will also have 30,000 square feet of non-clean research space, dedicated to research involving chemical processing, nanomaterials, biotech and space for advanced research equipment. The construction of the NRCB also worked to eliminate vibrations that may interfere with experiments.

The NRCB was designed with future research needs in mind. The space available in the facility can be adapted to serve different research requirements. This means that space can be converted to clean room quality research areas in the future.

The facility will be used by researchers from Tech and other universities in the world, along with scientists from the private industry.

“This facility will support research efforts nationally and internationally,” Rose said.

Currently, Tech has around 8,500 square feet of clean room space in the Pettit Microelectronics Research Center, in addition to about 3,000 square feet in the Van Leer Building.

Space has become tight and the facility is overloaded with equipment. When the NRCB opens, the MiRC will shift some of its activities to the new research building.

However, Tech will continue to operate the MiRC for research. “The MiRC is nearing the half-way point of its life,” Rose said. Constructed in 1990, the MiRC has been host to countless research projects.

“The new nanotech building will not change the day-to-day activities in the MiRC. Instead, the [NRCB] will help us expand our research operations to more sophisticated levels,” Rose said.

“We’re 95 percent done with the construction. We are testing the systems and verifying that everything in the facility is working properly. In the meantime, construction crews are working on the landscape surrounding the building,” Rose said.

In fact, due to a recent increase in funding, the NRCB will continue to host minor construction projects to enhance its facilities after the opening date.

In addition to minor projects following the opening date, Facilities is planning on constructing a small pedestrian-friendly walkway between the NRCB and the Biotechnology Complex.

A Stinger shuttle stop is planned in front of the building, eliminating the traffic problems caused by the current stop in front of the Biotechnology Complex. Looking towards the future, Tech is planning on closing off Atlantic Dr. altogether to provide access to the new Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons.