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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.

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Stephen Shankland

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1 of 8 Stephen Shankland/CNET

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.

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Nobel Prize honorees

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.
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3 of 8 Stephen Shankland/CNET

IBM transmission electron microscope

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.
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4 of 8 Stephen Shankland/CNET

IBM spin-polarized scanning electron microscope

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.
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5 of 8 Stephen Shankland/CNET

IBM nanotech center honorees

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.
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6 of 8 Stephen Shankland/CNET

IBM Research in Zurich

IBM Research investigates supercomputing, nanotechnology, medicine, and more at its Zurich labs.
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7 of 8 Stephen Shankland/CNET

IBM: Think

IBM's famous exhortation to employees, "think," gets special prominence at its research lab in Zurich.
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8 of 8 Stephen Shankland/CNET

IBM super-quiet research center

IBM's noise-free rooms are shielded from several types of disturbances.

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