as well as 5,000 sq. ft. of biological cleanroom space
(Class 1000), including Biosafety Level 1 and 2 labs. The
inorganic and organic cleanrooms are adjacent so that
researchers can transfer their samples without exposing them to a non-cleanroom environment. This novel
design enables a seamless fusion of traditional, top-down
microfabrication approaches (e.g. optical and electron-beam lithography) and various types of bottom-up self-assembly approaches (typical biologically-derived) to
nanotechnology research at Georgia Tech. The Marcus
building also houses a newly-completed 3,300 sq. ft.
imaging and characterization suite that offers comprehensive microscopy and imaging services, as well as
X-ray and ion-based characterization, for a wide variety
of materials and devices.
The IEN cleanrooms and labs accommodate over two
hundred individual pieces of equipment, which enable
users to run an extensive variety of materials growth and
fabrication processes in a single facility. These processes
include traditional microfabrication processes such as
photolithography and mask generation; thin film deposi-
tion; plasma etching and wet chemistry; and packaging.
Electron beam lithography and nano-imprinting services
offer the ability to quickly prototype nanoscale devices on
different substrates. Traditional chemical vapor deposition
(CVD) materials growth, including atomic layer deposition as well as non-traditional process such as soft lithography, are also available. IEN cleanroom users come from
numerous different academic departments within Georgia
Tech’s Colleges of Engineering and Science, as well as the
Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI).
The mission of the IEN is to maintain these current
resources while also growing our capabilities through the
acquisition of new high-tech tools; train users on safe and
proper operation of the equipment; and provide the highest
caliber technical expertise to enable users to achieve their
desired results. These facilities, along with a skilled and
experienced staff, has enabled Georgia Tech to be the hub
of nanotechnology research in the southeast and competitive with the best U.S. national university facilities.
The cleanroom as a controlled environment
Fundamentally, having a fully controlled environment
is crucial in nanotechnology research and development.
Particle levels, temperature, humidity, pressure, light,
ultrapure water, and process gases all play important
roles in achieving the conditions needed to conduct successful research.
One of the challenges of user-centered facilities is
that most new users do not have experience working in
a cleanroom and lack familiarity with the unique operational conditions that come with this environment. To
assist with acclimation, the IEN provides mandatory
orientation programs to educate new users about cleanroom operation, safety, regulations, training, and protocols. Before being granted unsupervised access to any
specific piece of equipment, users are required to attend
training and pass a hands-on check-off test by facility
staff. The IEN also offers seminars, workshops, forums,
and staff office hours to assist users with process or engineering.
Figure 2: Marcus
Figure 3: Users need to
clean up any items that
will be brought inside
the cleanroom. Users also
help to clean up cleanroom floors and walls.