IBM's super-quiet nanotech research rooms (pictures)
At Big Blue's Zurich research lab, a nanotechnology center uses rooms that keep out vibrations, audio and radio noise, and magnetic fields so atomic-scale structures can be studied. Here's a look at the rooms.
IBM super-quiet room
IBM has just finished building new noise-free labs at its Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center in Zurich, Switzerland. The labs are designed to keep out vibrations, audio and radio noise, and magnetic fields so atomic-scale structures can be studied.
Humans are too hot and cause too many vibrations to be in the same room as a super-precise transmission electron microscope, so IBM Research runs it by remote control. A video camera lets researchers keep an eye on equipment, and patterned baffles absorb sound.
Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer, two researchers at IBM's research lab in Zurich, Switzerland, received the Nobel prize for developing the scanning tunneling microscope. That instrument is now a fixture for nanotechnology research. This is a replica of the medal.
Rolf Erni, head of the Electron Microscopy Center at the Empa materials science research center, talks to a reporter next to a massive transmission electron microscope that can observe structures as detailed as individual atoms and chemical bond types.
One super-precise instrument in IBM's noise-free rooms is this spin-polarized scanning electron microscope, which can be used to gauge the exact details about magnetic materials. Samples that researchers investigate are placed inside a chamber with a vacuum as hard as in space above Earth.
IBM built its new noise-free labs at its Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center at IBM Research's Zurich lab. The center is named after Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer, IBM researchers awarded the Nobel Prize for their invention of the scanning tunneling microscope.