X Close

Science blog


News, anecdotes and pictures from across science and engineering at UCL


The cleanroom at LCN

By Oli Usher, on 12 January 2015

CleanroomLabs are rarely spotless. They are working spaces, busy with people. They are difficult to clean. They are also often home to some pretty messy scientific research. In fact, labs often look more like a workshop or garage than they do the gleaming white rooms we see on TV.

One glaring exception to this is the cleanroom at the London Centre for Nanotechnology. This lab is home to work that would be damaged even by tiny amounts of dust.

For instance, in the photolithography section (above), scientists use light to etch nanoscale circuits and patterns onto silicon surfaces, a process used to make electronic components. Even a speck of dust could derail this by casting a shadow on the surface and ruining the pattern.

For the same reason, the room is lit only with orange light. The light used to etch the surfaces is closer to the blue end of the visible spectrum, and any stray blue light could ruin the process. The distinctive lighting in the room avoids any inadvertent damage being caused to the experiment.


High resolution image

Leave a Reply