Birck Nanotechnology Center

Operating Policies and Procedures


1.1 What is the Birck Nanotechnology Center (BNC)?

1.2 Operating Philosophy

1.3 Functional Areas

1.1 What is the Birck Nanotechnology Center (BNC)?

The Birck Nanotechnology Center is an 187,000 square foot research facility consisting of a nanofabrication cleanroom, a biocleanroom, heavy laboratory space, and office areas.  One of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the world, it is designed to support collaborative multidisciplinary research in nanotechnology and to foster interaction between researchers and research disciplines.
The nanofabrication cleanroom is a bay-chase design, with clean zones ranging from ISO Class 3 to ISO Class 5.  Additionally, it meets stringent vibration criteria and is furnished with ultra- and high-purity utilities.  The nanofabrication cleanroom contains equipment for lithography, wet and dry etching, deposition, diffusion, and metrology.  The nanofabrication cleanroom also contains a teaching facility for semiconductor processing.
The biocleanroom is a pharmaceutical-grade cleanroom that provides bio-contaminant control as well as particle control.  Entered by a separate gowning area, there is access for materials to move between the nanofabrication cleanroom and biocleanroom.
The laboratory areas provide specialized facilities for non-cleanroom equipment and experimentation, including a nanotechnology measurement laboratory with world-class vibration and temperature controls, advanced surface-analysis capabilities, optical and laser systems, biological research facilities, materials deposition laboratories, electron microscopy facilities, and electrical characterization laboratories. 
The offices and interaction areas are designed to provide convenient access to the cleanrooms and the laboratory facilities, and to provide support for multidisciplinary activities.  Formal and informal interaction space has been designed into the common areas of the facility.

1.2 Operating Philosophy

1.2.1 Birck Nanotechnology Center Policies Governing Space and Equipment

  1. Laboratory and office space in the BNC building will be assigned by the Director and the Facility Manager. 
  2. Occupants of the BNC must maintain an active research program that utilizes equipment in the BNC or that benefits from close interaction with other occupants of the BNC.
  3. It is expected that laboratory space and equipment in the BNC will be open to all qualified users, except in cases where such access adversely affects the cleanliness, safety, or functionality of the space or equipment.
  4. Each laboratory and each item of equipment will be assigned a “Person-in-Charge” (PIC).  The PIC will be the faculty member (or designee) most intimately involved with the use of the space or equipment.  The PIC will establish rules governing access to the laboratory or equipment, including training requirements, scheduling, operational procedures, functional restrictions, etc.  Such rules are subject to approval by the BNC Director. 
  5. In cases where equipment is shared by a large number of users, a user fee will be established to prorate the cost of maintenance among users proportional to their actual usage.  The fee will be established by the PIC, subject to approval by the BNC Director, and will not exceed the actual per-use maintenance cost of that equipment.  If a piece of equipment is restricted to a small group of users, that group can elect to provide their own maintenance.  In such cases, no user fee will be charged.  Equipment maintenance within the building will be managed centrally by the BNC.  The BNC will fund and supervise a maintenance staff, and will collect user fees to offset the cost of maintenance
  6. The BNC Director will act as the PIC of the cleanroom and will establish regulations governing access, training requirements, operational protocols, and penalties for violation of operating rules.
  7. To support operating expenses of the cleanrooms, a per-semester cleanroom access fee will be charged.  In cases where these fees would inhibit users from utilizing the facilities, users can apply to the BNC Directors for a waiver of fees.  Each such request will be considered on an individual basis.

1.3 Functional Areas

1.3.1 Nanofabrication Cleanroom 

1st floor

BNC First Floor

2nd floor

BNC Second Floor

The BNC nanofabrication cleanroom consists of a microelectronics bay-chase cleanroom with clean zones ranging from ISO Class 3 through ISO Class 5.  A raised floor allows unidirectional airflow throughout the nanofabrication cleanroom and ultra pure utilities provide the cleanliness needed for nanotechnology research.  The nanofabrication cleanroom is entered from a pre-gowning area that connects to the gowning room, which in turn connects to the nanofabrication cleanroom.  All three areas are restricted access.

1.3.2 Biocleanroom

The BNC biocleanroom consists of a pharmaceutical-grade bay-chase cleanroom.  It has a gowning facility that is separate from the nanofabrication cleanroom, but is equipped with pass-through units to allow the passage of materials between the two facilities.  The biocleanroom and the biocleanroom gowning area are restricted access.

1.3.3 Laboratories

The BNC laboratories are specialized facilities that support nanotechnology research with ultra pure utilities outside of a cleanroom atmosphere.   The area between the laboratory modules is the galley, where services to the laboratories are located.  The laboratories and the galley are restricted-access areas.

1.3.4 Subfab

The subfab is the support area for the nanofabrication cleanroom and the biocleanroom.  It contains support equipment for the nanofabrication cleanroom and the biocleanroom equipment as well as the utility mains and branches for the nanofabrication cleanroom and the biocleanroom.  The subfab is a restricted-access area.

1.3.5 Offices

The offices are located on the north side of the building, surrounding the laboratory areas, on both the first and second floor.

1.3.6 Common Areas

There are numerous common areas in the facility, designed to provide easily accessed locations for interaction among researchers.  There are large conference rooms in the north-center portion of the building on each floor, and smaller conference rooms at the end of each office wing.  There are two conference rooms in the center of the building on the first floor.

1.3.7 Support Areas

The entire third floor of the BNC facility is devoted to air handling equipment.  Access to this floor is restricted.  Additionally, there are numerous support areas that provide the services to the building, spread among the lower two floors.  All of these areas are restricted access.