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World Class Nanotechnology Research Center Opens

CowboyNeal posted about 8 years ago | from the can't-see-it-anywhere dept.

51

Eh-Wire writes "The University of Alberta and Edmonton are mighty proud to be home to the new National Institute of Nanotechnology. The $52.2-million(Canadian) facility is designed to provide the optimal conditions for nano-scale research and to foster collaboration between researchers. Apparently it is Canada's quietest space and engineered that way to minimize vibration and acoustical noise. Even the electrical wiring has been twisted to reduce electro-magnetic interference. Curiously enough the head project architect, Donna Clare of architectural firm, Cohos Evamy was also the head project architect for Edmonton's highly acclaimed Winspear Centre, a concert hall designed specifically to enhance acoustics. There's likely going to be some big things coming from this state-of-the-art research facility for the really really small."

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51 comments

mmm (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15596218)

FP (nano-first-post)

Architects! (-1, Offtopic)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 8 years ago | (#15596223)

Clearly, we've got a slow news day in the works...

Sounds like it was designed by (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15596224)

Bloody Stupid Johnson [wikipedia.org] – it's so small, you can get lost just looking for it!

Please! (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 8 years ago | (#15596244)

Never say "Johnson" and "it's so small" in the same sentence!

Nor (1)

ickeicke (927264) | about 8 years ago | (#15597291)

Nor "Johnson" and "Bloody", please.

Huh? (4, Insightful)

Wellington Grey (942717) | about 8 years ago | (#15596243)

Curiously enough the head project architect, Donna Clare of architectural firm, Cohos Evamy was also the head project architect for Edmonton's highly acclaimed Winspear Centre, a concert hall designed specifically to enhance acoustics.

What's curious about that? If you want a quiet building, I'd think you'd want to hire a guy who's an expert in sound and architecture.

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Nit, I pick YOU! (2, Funny)

EinZweiDrei (955497) | about 8 years ago | (#15596306)

"What's curious about that? If you want a quiet building, I'd think you'd want to hire a guy who's an expert in sound and architecture."

Seems they got off on entirely the wrong foot with head project architect Donna Clare, then.

Whoops (1)

Wellington Grey (942717) | about 8 years ago | (#15596321)

Errr... That was the gender-neutral 'guy'. :)

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Re:Whoops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597616)

You mean there are still EUNUCHS around!?

Re:Whoops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15598205)

You mean there are still EUNUCHS around!?


Isn't it possible to have ANY conversation on Slashdot without that coming up?

Oh, EUNUCHS. Sorry, my mistake.

Re:Whoops (1)

nutsy (33125) | about 8 years ago | (#15602207)

While we're picking nits, do you ever get tired of pasting that link to your web site to the bottom of every single comment? That's what sigs [slashdot.org] are for, you know?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15599356)

And Deadmonton would be a good place to build it.

HuH? (2)

tomhudson (43916) | about 8 years ago | (#15596246)

There's likely going to be some big things coming

... big things ... nano-tech ... is this like "jumbo shrimp"?

Has this already happened? (1)

Ideasware (923312) | about 8 years ago | (#15596380)

I think we should focus on building a nanotech device that will build nanotech devices that build nanotech devices. My worry is that this has already happened. How would I know?

Re:Has this already happened? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 8 years ago | (#15596776)

I think we should focus on building a nanotech device that will build nanotech devices that build nanotech devices. My worry is that this has already happened. How would I know?

.. you'll know that the recycling nanobots have been created (and let into the wild) when your tires (and everything else) is turned into "grey goo".

Far from being a joke, disassemblers would be the absolute worst possible plague imagineable.

They could get into the wild on a single piece of paper.

You might notice it as a ingle letter mi ing ...

But a f w minut lat r it will b wor ,

h n x hing you know, v ry co r n;

y u'r d m d.

, !

Re:Has this already happened? (2, Insightful)

GuyWithLag (621929) | about 8 years ago | (#15597125)

Look, grey goo exists, and it's called microbes. Just leave food outside for a couple of days, and you'll see. And generalized dissassemblers can't work simply due to not having enough energy/kg available in the environment (unless you use fire, which could be construed to be a general dissasembler... :-) )

Re:Has this already happened? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 8 years ago | (#15604610)

General disassemblers don't have to be fast ... store up energy (say, sunlight) for a few minutes, disassemble one molucule, repeat. It works in nature - plants do it all the time. So lets say that a disassembler weighs the same as one cell that makes up the solid tissue in a human body ...

So say that each disassembler replicated once a week ...

10 weeks - 1,024 disassemblers
20 weeks - 1,048,576 disassemblers
30 weeks - 1,073,741,824 disassemblers
34 weeks = the same number of dissassemblers as the cells making up the solid tissues of your body (4 trillion)
40 weeks - 1,099,511,627,776 disassemblers, or 64 bodies
50 weeks - 1,125,899,906,842,624 disassemblers or 65,536 bodies
52 weeks - 262,144 bodies
1 year, 10 weeks - 268,435,456 bodies
1 year, 15 weeks - 8,589,934,592 - more than the world population
1 year, 20 weeks - 274,877,906,944 - 2748779069 pounds (at 100 pounds/person), or 1,374,389 tons
1 year, 30 weeks - 1,407,374,336 tons
1 year, 40 weeks - 1,441 trillion tons
1 year, 50 weeks - 1,478,656 trillion tons
2 years - 5,914,624 trillion tons, or just over a TON of disassemblers per square foot of the earths' surface.

Re:HuH? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 8 years ago | (#15603377)

...from this state-of-the-art research facility for the really really small.

Moreover, the proper term for us is dwarves.

Sorry but this is not new (4, Informative)

karvind (833059) | about 8 years ago | (#15596256)

Even the electrical wiring has been twisted to reduce electro-magnetic interference.

This is done in all the high precision instruments and the facility in which they are installed. TEM [wikipedia.org] s and electron beam lithography [wikipedia.org] tools often have a separate foundation isolated from the rest of the building to minimize vibration issues.

Probably they should mention about the tight control over temperature, humidity and airflow as well.

Re:Sorry but this is not new (2, Interesting)

ironring2006 (968941) | about 8 years ago | (#15596284)

I was thinking the same thing when I read it. It's worded as if twisted pairs are some sort of new fangled idea. Anbody who is plugged into the internet via an ethernet cable is benefitting from this "twisting to reduce electro-magnetic interference".

Re:Sorry but this is not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15596305)

Well, yes, but most people probably aren't used to seeing twisted power cables, since most of us aren't going to notice the electro-magnetic interference they're emitting. Of course, most of us also aren't living in a nanotech research centre.

size matters (1)

gnarlin (696263) | about 8 years ago | (#15596275)

Careful not to step on it!

Minatec (4, Informative)

GrAfFiT (802657) | about 8 years ago | (#15596279)

You might be interested by the recently launched european equivalent : Minatec [minatec.com] .

This makes me worry (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15596314)

U of A does have some nano technology expertise. On the other hand, this does sound like some administrator dreamed up a way to tap the 'obscene' pile of money in Alberta.

Call me a cynic but I've seen this happen too many times. If you use the right sexy words, senior administrators and politicians are willing to dump huge amounts of money in your lap. Public money should go into pure research (nano technology in my mind is mostly applied research because most of it seems aimed at applications). That's where it's needed and that's where private industry is least willing to donate.

Once upon a time, the National Research Council of Canada was run by someone who gave the scientists license to pursue their own interests. The result was at least one Nobel prize and maybe a couple of more if you count people who once worked there. Then the 'professional' administrators took over and it all went to hell in a handbasket.

I'm not against government money for applied research. Look at all the good stuff that resulted from the space race. That effort had a focus. This thing at U of A just looks like someone trying to build an empire.

Re:This makes me worry (5, Informative)

Pulse_Instance (698417) | about 8 years ago | (#15596358)

The University of Alberta has their own nano tech lab called the NanoFab [ualberta.ca] and it is good for what it did. However it is an open access research facility and the space inside of it was almost all used up by the time I finished working there 2 years ago. This new lab is huge and has tons of room for more equipment and has taken advantage of new construction techniques in order to allow for more sensitive equipment. There is a lot of research in nano-tech happening in Alberta and this will allow it to continue.

Re:This makes me worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15597216)

It is true that government funded grants, those from NSERC et al, are geared towards applied science (technology). However, there are fundamental, "pure research", questions that still need to be answered in the area of nanoscience.

It should be worthy to note that the instrumentation present at the research centre has applications across several scientific disciplines and is by no means limited to just nanoscience work.

Research without focus is mostly waste (1)

Ogemaniac (841129) | about 8 years ago | (#15597434)

If you want to do research that actually will have an impact on people's lives, get the heck out of universities as fast as possible. Given the vast amount of money that the government pours into research, it is obvious that SOME useful things will come of it. However, this amount is incredibly small given the money put in.

Having not so long ago switched from the academic lab to the corporate lab, let me just say I am thrilled with the relative effectiveness and sensibility of R&D at the corporate level, where you do what your customers need, drop projects that are going anywhere, don't thrive on grad-student and post-doc slave labor, but rather just invest in capital, etc. My company spent more on capital items I needed to do my work in the first month than my graduate advisor did in five years. Needless to say, my research goes a lot faster when I don't spend half my time fixing crap equipment, and when it DOES have problems, one of the technicians will probably take care of it.

Private R&D is about 60% of the total, but probably results in 80% of the technologies that you actually use.

nanoscience vs. nanotechnology (1)

biohack (955639) | about 8 years ago | (#15597768)

The distinction between the fundamental and applied research at the nanoscale is basically that between nanoscience and nanotechnology. But this distinction is currently a lot fuzzier than similar boundaries in the more traditional branches of science (e.g., fundamental life sciences vs. biotechnology) simply because there has not been enough nanoscience done yet to enable most of the nanotechnology, especially in the way the latter is typically presented to the general public.

Take electronics, for example. For all the fundamental research that goes on in semiconductor physics, the actual technology has evolved a lot more conservatively, changing the processes only when being faced with insurmountable limitations of the existing methods. In fact, while fundamentally GaAs may indeed be a superior semiconductor, Silicon will rule the day in technology simply because it is a more studied material from an applied prospective.

But if we now think about a single-electron (or a nanotube-based) transistor, the distinction between the fundamental and applied research is minimal, simply because neither has advanced enough in terms of making practical devices. So until the first generation nanoscience and nanotechnology actually establish commercially-viable processes, materials, and devices, the choice of the "science" vs. "technology" (or "fundamental" vs. applied") moniker will be mostly up to personal preferences of individual researchers.

Major investor backed out (1)

elmarkitse (816597) | about 8 years ago | (#15596395)

It would have been done sooner if a major investor hadn't backed out:

Derek Zoolander: What is this? A nano-research center for ants? How can we expected the researchers to learn about nano-technology... if they can't even fit inside the building?

Canada: Derek, this is just a small...

Derek Zoolander: I don't wanna hear your excuses! The building has to be at least... three times bigger than this!

UMass has one in progress.. (2, Informative)

not-admin (943926) | about 8 years ago | (#15596402)

The University of Massachusetts in Lowell is building a new $23 million dollar nanotechnology center, with area for corporations to rent for use as assembly systems:
http://www.uml.edu/Media/News%20Articles/article34 6.html [uml.edu]

Re:UMass has one in progress.. (1)

Qubed (665563) | about 8 years ago | (#15597730)

$46.45mil USD > $23mil USD ^.^ Not that I'm pitting the U of A against U of M or anything...

I hear the labs are really small... (0)

mkcmkc (197982) | about 8 years ago | (#15596406)

(ta dump dump)

The University of Alberta (1)

king-manic (409855) | about 8 years ago | (#15596461)

There are some grandious title on doors that turn out to be wood shops if you open them. The Condensed Matter Physics labs. I found that very funny.

Re:The University of Alberta (1)

Qubed (665563) | about 8 years ago | (#15597738)

Grandinous isn't even a word o.O I'll admit the U has a bit of trouble playing up its strengths. Look at the old Nanofab lab in the basement of ETLC.You wouldn't know it was there if someone didn't tell you. In spite of that, that lab houses millions of dollars worth of very expensive equipment. As for the CMPL... Yeah... I say that place should be knocked down with Vwing and the physics building.

Re:The University of Alberta (1)

NanoGradStudent (878951) | about 8 years ago | (#15597918)

I'd say they hyped the existence of the Nanofab pretty extensively, and even if you're an undergrad in Engineering or a few of the Sciences (Physics comes to mind) you've probably heard of the existence of the Nanofab. It's been overshadowed by NINT, but you still hear about the Nanofab in conjunction with nano research at the U of A (and will probably continue to until they get their facilities fully up and running)

They've also started demolishing V-Wing and Physics, and Physics will be moving to BRAND NEW FACILITIES... in 2010. They've "temporarily" (the old Temp Labs building lasted for over 15 years) moved into the old Civil Electrical Building. There was a story in the Folio [ualberta.ca] detailing most of the moves.

Re:The University of Alberta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15598090)

Friends don't let friends go to UofA

(UofC student here =p)

Re:The University of Alberta (1)

nonlnear (893672) | about 8 years ago | (#15599108)

Good to hear that V-wing is finally being torn down. I had a locker in the basement. Those steam pipes made for a rather inhospitable environment. Hot as hell, that is.

Quietest place in Canada (1)

layer3switch (783864) | about 8 years ago | (#15596548)

Apparently it is Canada's quietest space and engineered that way to minimize vibration and acoustical noise.

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNew s/20060523/reporters_harper_060523 [www.ctv.ca]

I thought, the quietest place in Canada was Stephen Harper giving press release in Ottawa.

Re:Quietest place in Canada (1)

dognuts (699368) | about 8 years ago | (#15596656)

Actually since becoming single again my bedroom was the quietest place in Canada!

Knowing one of our governments just pissed away another $52.2 million on something
that a private business should've built & paid for.
My bedroom won't so quiet anymore, not with another round of tossing & turning coming on.

The value of CDN$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15596562)

The $52.2-million(Canadian) facility [...]

And before you write stupid comments about how that's really 5$ worth of "real" money (i.e. US$), just you have a look at http://www.xe.com/ [xe.com]

I saw the building a few months ago... (1)

10100111001 (931992) | about 8 years ago | (#15596596)

I saw the new nanotechnology building a few months ago... and its a lot bigger than I expected.

Georgia Tech Nanotechnology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15596608)

Georgia Tech is building an $80 million, 188,000 square foot Nanotechnology Research Center Building (NRCB). It won't be done until late 2007 but seems worth mentioning.

Nanoscience requires low vibration environs (1)

noopm (982584) | about 8 years ago | (#15596669)

For example, looking at atomic level resolution of material surfaces using an Scanning Tunneling Microsope [wikipedia.org] which is fairly routine for a nanoscience experiment requires very low vibration so that the ultra fine tip does not drift with time. Usually this is accomplished by installing these multi-million dollar machines in the basements of research buildings. Lower vibrational thresholds would be always be welcome.

Re:Nanoscience requires low vibration environs (2, Informative)

Teclis (772299) | about 8 years ago | (#15596997)

FYI:

requires very low vibration so that the ultra fine tip does not drift with time

The vibrations have absolutely NOTHING to do with drift. The drift is caused by temperature gradients in the microscope. One part of the microscope thermally expands/contracts more than another part and the tip and sample will drift. The vibration issue is another matter related to image noise. The feedback used to maintain a tunneling junction has limited bandwidth and excessive vibrations will show up in images as noise. Minimizing vibrations does nothing more than make quieter images allowing smaller features to be observed.

Re:Nanoscience requires low vibration environs (1)

noopm (982584) | about 8 years ago | (#15597265)

You are right. thanks-

Oldest science (1)

tsa (15680) | about 8 years ago | (#15596699)

God is a nanotechnologist.

Georgia Tech has a center under construction (2, Informative)

boredandblogging.com (983263) | about 8 years ago | (#15596798)

Its 160,000 sq ft with 30,000 sq ft of clean rooms. Of course it won't be done till the summer of 2008 and cost $80M. The biggest private contribution has been from Bernie Marcus, one of the founders of Home Depot, for $15M.

Georgia Tech Nanotechnology Research Center [gatech.edu]
Nanotech @ Tech [gatech.edu]

Re:Georgia Tech has a center under construction (1)

Mofassa (975528) | about 8 years ago | (#15596971)

I can't find the link right now, but I beleive my university (Univeristy of Waterloo) and Georgia have signed a nice little deal. Both are investing huge amounts of money into nanotechnology (our Centre for Nanotechnology and Quantum computing is supposed to be completed in 2010). I'm actually lucky enough to be in that first batch of graduating Nanotechnology engineers. Cost of ours is around the same, we're getting tons of money from RIM. Here's the link :)
http://www.nanotech.uwaterloo.ca/research/qnc.html [uwaterloo.ca] and for mearly bragging rights, our nano building's bigger than yours...wait...is that a good thing?

Relevant Links, and some insight as to why (2, Informative)

geerbox (855203) | about 8 years ago | (#15598214)

I had a chance to tour the original NINT facility (not the new one), and I recall a few interesting facts from it. Perhaps most interesting is that the original facility resides at a higher level (read: not basement or 1st floor), and while that means little to most of us, apparently the vibration of a building at that height - in MICROmeters - does effect NANO-research. I suppose that when you do research that's so intensive, factors you've never considered become critical in design, and the essential need for shielding from vibration and electrical interference is partially the reason for the cost of the building.

Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Institute_fo r_Nanotechnology [wikipedia.org]

Press Release:
http://www.engineering.ualberta.ca/news.cfm?story= 47344 [ualberta.ca]

Open for now... (1)

chiefrocketscientist (984773) | about 8 years ago | (#15600170)

It's interesting to note that this center was built using "soft money", i.e. limited time funding that is actually expiring at more or less the same time that it is opening. There are other things of concern with this center, such as how the investment is dwarfed by investments being made by other countries... This is not the only example of photo ops masquarading as research initiatives staged by the federal government. The uncertainty over future funding is causing the NRC to re-evaluate everyting that is does. The danger is that political considerations could overshadow scientific issues.
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