We plan and design nanotech facilities, including high performance microscopy/imaging suites, high bay condensed matter suites, cleanrooms, chemical support facilities, and enabling technology labs. Our projects include new research buildings with nanotech capability, and renovations of existing facilities to upgrade them.
Our practice gives us deep insight into the complex needs of nanotechnology research and development. While some requirements lend themselves to generic laboratory design, many involve nanotech functions demanding specialized spaces. Working with users, consultants, and contractors, we produce innovative facilities enabling our clients to continuously refine and advance laboratory capabilities. We advocate physically decoupling and isolating nano scale activities from surrounding building systems and adjacent conditions, while maintaining the intellectual connections that allow for cross-disciplinary work. The success of many nano projects hinges on merging high performance environments with spaces that foster interaction into one synthesized facility.
At the outset of a typical project, we begin developing detailed program documents that include equipment lists, equipment planning diagrams, and room criteria sheets. These documents outline the required services, peripheral components, and back-up systems (such as multiple vacuums and electronic controls) for sensitive nano tools. Understanding the tools and equipment sets the criteria for the feasibility process, and agreeing on a tool list -and on the criteria- is a key step in the building concept.
Maximizing Performance and Efficiency
Nanotech buildings are criteria-driven. The general trend in nanotech research is for increasingly stringent tool criteria requirements: tighter vibration and acoustical thresholds, lower AC/DC EMI field tolerance, tighter humidity, and temperature fluctuation control. While targeting the maximum performance criterion possible might add longevity to a facility, this is not always a feasible project approach. Our philosophy is to establish the best possible base-line in response to project constraints: Which option satisfies stringent criteria with economy; where is the ‘sweet spot’ on a site for placing sensitive tools; and how will local mitigation options effect cost control? The programming effort will develop zones of activities (such as cleanroom, imaging, and material synthesis), which will set the base line criteria for each space, and will identify how the parameters are set.
Renovations are more challenging than fit-outs. In new construction, the core/shell design sets the ambient conditions; in renovations, existing building conditions can require additional isolation/structural re-work.
Our expertise is based on 30 years of work in both physical chemistry and pharmaceutical process chemistry. We have designed environments ranging from femtosecond laser laboratories and molecular beam laboratories to high performance cryogenic laboratories.
We have expertise in designing for a variety of cleanroom and clean class types, in both university and industrial settings. Successful cleanroom design balances considerations for flexibility, demanding tools, safety, clean lab protocols, robust infrastructure, and energy use. We bring a depth of knowledge and a ‘Basis of Design’ workshop approach to identify the technical criteria and appropriate design solutions for a range of nanoscale, physical science, and life science cleanroom environments. We work with tools for e-beam lithography, photo lithography, etching/deposition, PVD/CVD, metrology, and other related technologies. With experience in multiple configurations of fab/subfab/fandeck spaces, filtration systems, and ceiling plenum types, we provide options that match cost and performance at all clean class types. We partner closely with specialty consultants and collaborate with researchers to provide efficient laminar flow, establish good viewing angles for safety and tours, and provide flexibility (including bulkheaded tools where relevant).
We design and plan for the demanding imaging equipment found in core facilities and specialty laboratories. We have worked nationally and internationally on providing low-vibration and low-EMI spaces for STM (scanning tunneling microscope), TEM (transmission electron microscope), and customized imaging equipment for nanoscale, physical science, and life science research. Key design issues we address include acoustical isolation, EMI shielding, vibration isolation, pumping and utility service rings, temperature and humidity stability, height/access considerations for installation and maintenance, and laminar air supply for limiting turbulence. We provide researchers with approaches and options to both common and extraordinary requirements.
We conduct benchmarking tours of nano facilities in the United States and overseas. We regularly tour facilities with our clients to compare design features, construction costs, and user feedback. This experience informs our core expertise and establishes the relevant benchmarks we reference with stakeholders during the design of projects.
Functional Lab Design for High Precision Nanoscience
Princeton University – Nanoscale Microscopy Laboratory