What is a Cleanroom and what is it for?

Like any environment, when you work in it every day, it becomes pretty normalized, but for the majority of people, a cleanroom is an intriguing and unknown place they’ve never experienced.

What is a Cleanroom?

For those people who don’t know, a cleanroom is just that – a clean room, with no dust, no tiny bits of fabric, or anything that can get on or in the tools and materials worked on within it. Thus, it is a suitable environment for the fabrication or measurement of delicate samples or products which are adversely affect by the types of contamination mentioned above.

To ensure the room is clean, the air is constantly recirculated through filtering systems. Air is drawn from outside, filtered, and blown into the room in such a way that, if someone opens the door, the air always blows from inside the room out.

The dirtiest thing going in and out are in fact the cleanroom users! Consequently, this means suiting up, from head to toe, in a garment a bit like a full coverage painting suit. There is a strict protocol to follow when dressing yourself to ensure that you minimise any outside contaminants entering the cleanroom. You aim to make sure you have everything you need before entering to avoid having to suit up again.

Inside the cleanroom, with everyone wearing this same suit and a mask covering their nose and mouth, it is not so easy to distinguish between different people. Eventually, you start to pick out your colleagues by the way they walk and move, or by which piece of equipment they frequent.

Health and Safety Precautions

There is a level of care and patience required to work in a cleanroom and extra health and safety precautions are necessary, for example, in certain fabrication processes such as wet chemical etching. A heavy-duty visor and chemically resistant gown, along with thick gloves must be worn when working with chemicals.

Operation of manual and automated equipment is also a part of the day-to-day routine. The noise from this equipment along with the filtering system can be overwhelming at first but it soon becomes a background hum.

Furthermore, the environment is humidity-controlled, which can leave you quite dehydrated. Since it is not possible to keep hydrated in the cleanroom, it is important to take regular breaks.

NuNano’s Atomic Force Microscopy Probes

Given the delicate nature of producing atomic force microscopy probes, NuNano perform their full manufacturing process within the cleanroom of the Scottish Microelectronics Centre (SMC) in Edinburgh, UK.

They currently produce a hard-tapping probe (spring constant: 42 N/m, resonant frequency: 350 kHz) and soft-tapping/force modulation probe (spring constant: 2 N/m, resonant frequency: 70 kHz). These are available in three variants: standard, high aspect ratio for deep trench imaging, and training with a lower resolution tip for training new AFM users where price is more important than tip sharpness. They also have the capability to manufacture custom probes, from the drawing board, through production, to completion.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Nu Nano Ltd.

For more information on this source, please visit Nu Nano Ltd.


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