The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its Nanoscience Research Laboratory on October 22. The unique facility offers the opportunity for scientists to conduct multidisciplinary research in the fields of materials, electronics, and biology in the nanometer size domain. The building, which was funded with Military Construction (MILCON) funds, cost $12.7 million and has been under construction since January 2002.
The new Nanoscience Research Laboratory provides a common venue for these multidisciplinary collaborations. It contains 5,000 square feet of Class 100 clean room space configured in ballroom style for easy adaptation to changing research needs. There are approximately 4,000 square feet of quiet laboratory space and approximately 1,000 square feet of ultraquiet laboratory space. The Nanoscience Research Laboratory will provide facilities for fabrication, manipulation, and characterization equipment in a carefully controlled environment.
The building shields the research areas with doubled exterior walls and a doubled roof structure, as well as isolated concrete floors for each laboratory room. Metal-clad interior walls isolate the research spaces from 60 Hz electromagnetic interference, and specially-designed air conditioning systems reduce acoustic background noise to very low levels. The building is served by three separate electrical power systems: common power for operating mechanical devices, highly processed power for operating the research equipment, and emergency back-up power in case of loss of commercial power service.
The Nanoscience Research Laboratory will be home to NRL's Institute for Nanoscience. The Institute focuses NRL expertise from the various disciplines in order to identify and exploit resources in ways that had not been accessible in the past. In addition to providing opportunities for NRL scientists, it will host scientists from other institutions for both short-term and long-term visits. The Institute will maintain a strong postdoctoral program and provide a colloquium series.
The NRL scientists slated to conduct research in the Nanoscience Research Laboratory include a cross-section of research divisions from the Chemistry Division, Materials Science and Technology Division, Acoustics Division, Electronics Science and Technology Division, Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering, Optical Sciences Division, Laboratory for Structure of Matter, and the Signature Technology Office.
Dr. Gary Prinz, Director of the Institute for Nanoscience, said, "This new facility is met with enormous enthusiasm by the NRL scientists. It will establish a focal point at NRL for entirely new research directions at this incredibly small length scale."