User Lab Progresses
Since the Clinton administration announced the National
Initiative (NNI) in January 2000, federal funds have increased
every year for
this fascinating new arena of life-altering research on
the tiniest scale.
Nanotechnology has already improved everyday items like
tennis balls and sunscreen. Proponents say that this research
may someday lead to agents for curing disease, slowing
the aging process and eliminating pollution.
The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) website,
says that federal investment in this research and increased
understanding "promise to underlie revolutionary
advances that will contribute to improvements in medicine,
manufacturing, high-performance materials, information
technology, and environmental technologies."
$847 Million Sought for 2004
President Bush's 2004 budget includes $847 million for
NNI, a 9.5% increase
over 2003. And recently, the U.S. House of Representatives
passed HR 766,
the Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003.
This bill authorizes more than $2 billion of federal research
money over the next three years.
Ten federal government agencies requested funding for
NNI activities, as noted here:
|Department of Energy
|Department of Commerce
and Space Administration
|Department of Agriculture
|Department of Homeland
|Department of Justice
CINT Takes Center Stage
The 2004 budget includes a significant increase - 48%
over 2003 - for the Department of Energy (DOE) and its
missions in national defense, energy and the environment.
The DOE has given $75 million for the Center for Integrated
Nanotechnologies (CINT) in New Mexico, just one of five
such user centers in the U.S. that are now in various
stages of design and construction. This state-of-the-art
facility will include laboratory and cleanroom spaces,
and offices for staff and collaborators. Research spaces
will include temperature and contamination control,
vibration and acoustic isolation suites, characterization,
synthesis and integration laboratories.
"We're connecting the nano world to the world that
we live [in]," said Terry Michalske, CINT director
at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). A primary goal
of the new laboratory is to provide an interdisciplinary
environment that can serve the scientific community,
including government, university and private sectors.
HDR leads a team of six firms providing full architectural
and engineering services for the 95,000-square-foot
CINT core facility, currently in Title 2 Design Phase.
Construction is slated to start in 2004 and owner occupancy
is scheduled in 2006.
Initially, the technical focus of the center will be
Nanophotonics and nanoelectronics
Complex functional nanomaterials
The critical foundation
for successful nanoscience research is environmental
control - temperature and humidity, vibration, acoustics
and pressure variations, air cleanliness, noise, electro-magnetic
interference (EMI) and radio
frequency interference (RFI).
In addition to the stringent requirements of a nanotechnology
facility, part of the CINT mission is to be a national
user facility where researchers from academia and industry
will collaborate with CINT researchers on projects,
or share tools unavailable at their home laboratories.
One challenge was to make the integration lab user-friendly,
which made the traditional cleanroom concept very difficult,
according to Tom Gerbo, AIA, who is overseeing the laboratory
design at CINT. Cleanroom space also is very expensive
per square foot, he noted.
The idea came about during planning to create "mini"
cleanroom environments with a conventional bay and chase
configuration and clustered HEPA filters where they
were needed for certain procedures. This approach is
also being seen in the semiconductor and pharmaceutical
industries, Gerbo noted. Chemistry and biological synthesis
laboratories are in the center of CINT, with environmentally
quiet laboratories for characterization and measurement
activities and the cleanroom on either side.
The ideal nanocenter is almost a catalytic activity;
it is a place where disciplines can really work together,
but not be in each other's hair.
Terry Michalske, CINT director at Sandia
The idea came about during planning
to create "mini" cleanroom environments with
a conventional bay and chase configuration and clustered
HEPA filters where they were needed for certain procedures.
This approach is also being seen in the semiconductor
and pharmaceutical industries, Gerbo noted. Chemistry
and biological synthesis laboratories are in the center
of CINT, with environmentally quiet laboratories for
characterization and measurement activities and the
cleanroom on either side.
and interior images of the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies
"The ideal nanocenter is almost a catalytic activity;
it is a place where disciplines can really work together,
but not be in each other's hair," Michalske said.
This design represents a substantial cost savings per
square foot for the client, Gerbo said, adding that
HDR shoots to keep costs for nanotechnology laboratories
at around $250 per square foot. This number is in line
with "regular" research laboratories with
less sophisticated requirements than nanotechnology
labs. The key to success is to build a conventional
building but employ "very smart, thorough planning,"
Creating a constant, precise temperature in a nanotechnology
lab requires a high volume of airflow pumped at a very
low velocity. The HDR team came up with a successful
scheme for temperature control that called for large
covering nearly the entire ceiling.
However, according to Gerbo, solutions often present
new challenges. In the case of the ceiling ducts, questions
arose as to placement of other utilities. Those project
aspects were then addressed.
"Throughout the planning and design of this laboratory
facility, we have broken down the issues into their
simplest components and dealt with them one at a time,"
Gerbo said. "In many ways it's just good architectural
practice. It's good design from 'day one' in ways that
the spaces are employed."
Vibration and electro-magnetic interference, which often
affect high-end electron microscopes, were prime considerations
in the placement of the facility on the site. Extensive
studies of vibration-free zones were done and great
care was taken to isolate vibration-generating traffic
from critical functions.
Additionally, designers are using the natural stiffness
of the building and placing heavy rotating equipment
as far away as possible from sensitive research areas
where any vibration could ruin an experiment.
HDR has incorporated the latest sustainable design concepts
and will achieve LEEDTM * certification for CINT, said
William Wells, AIA, HDR senior project manager. The
goal is to provide a healthful, resource-efficient and
productive work environment, which will serve as a model
facility for the DOE and other government agencies.
SNL also hopes to obtain a designation for this building
as a Federal Energy Saver Showcase.
To date, HDR has suggested these sustainable solutions:
Storm water management and filtration on site
Use of sustainable materials, including those
with recycled content and low-emitting content
Extensive use of native vegetation to help reduce
water consumption for irrigation systems
Efficient HVAC systems that do not include HCFC's
Use of Energy Star-compliant roofing
Implementing a building commissioning plan to
ensure that the entire building is designed, constructed
and calibrated to operate as intended
Interestingly, some experts predict that advances in
nanotechnology will improve agricultural yields for
increased population, provide more economical water
filtration and desalination, enable renewable energy
sources, reduce the need for scarce material resources,
diminish pollution for a cleaner environment.
Rating System was established by the U.S. Green
Buildings Council in 1998 and HDR has been involved
since its beginning. LEED means Leadership in Energy
& Environmental Design. The system came about
as a way of creating a standard, nationally recognized
definition of a green building. Application is made
and points given for incorporating green principles
into a building's design. Qualifying buildings receive
one of four levels of LEED certification, from bronze