UCLA’s state-of-the-art, high-tech NanoLab is open to all

By Nicole Wilkins

UCLA Cleanroom (Image credit: Marc Roseboro)

UCLA’s Nanofabrication Laboratory, known as the UCLA NanoLab for short, combines resources from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI).

The UCLA NanoLab is available not only to the campus community, but also to researchers from other institutions and high-tech companies in need of a cleanroom facility.

“Our doors are open to everyone,” said Adam Stieg, associate director of CNSI and director of the institute’s technology centers. “This facility allows our faculty and users from higher education and industry to gain access to an incredibly controlled environment with all the tools and equipment associated with creating new and novel approaches to integrated circuit (IC) devices and materials.”

The state-of-the-art micro and nanofabrication equipment provides specialized laboratories where the air is free from dust and other particles. Cleanrooms help prevent contamination of the tiny experimental devices researchers are studying or building.

The UCLA NanoLab recently went through a multimillion-dollar upgrade to create the state-of-the-art, integrated spaces made possible by a combined investment from UCLA Samueli, CNSI, and the office of UCLA’s vice chancellor of research.

“The NanoLab provides 20,000 square feet of purpose-built cleanroom space in two locations on the UCLA campus,” said You-Sheng “Wilson” Lin, who oversees day-to-day operations as director of the UCLA NanoLab. “We have 10 full-time professional staff with decades of experience in industry and research to assist users in their research endeavors.”

With the new tools, UCLA investigators can be even more creative about conceiving their research programs. Not only are the facilities high-tech but they are designed to create workforce development and training opportunities for students.

“The research that we do is a vehicle to train and educate our students,” said Subramanian “Subu” Iyer, the Reames Professor in Electrical Engineering at UCLA Samueli’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. “It’s very important to have excellent facilities and a strong ecosystem within the university that can teach students practical things outside of the classroom which are absolutely essential to their training and education.” Iyer also holds a joint appointment in computer science.

Not only are skills developed outside of the classroom, but users are also able to take advantage of the cleanroom infrastructure in new and exciting ways.

In many cases, discoveries made in these academic labs have resulted in startup companies and commercial products.“My own experience as a startup founder took place at the NanoLab,” said Chang-Jin “CJ” Kim, the Volgenau Professor in Engineering at UCLA Samueli’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. “Now when I see my former students, many of their careers have also been defined by the NanoLab – how they supervise their own students, submit proposals and conduct their own research is more productive because of the experiences they were able to have.” Kim also holds a joint appointment in bioengineering.

According to Stieg, the research and training capabilities of the UCLA NanoLab have broad-ranging impacts.

“The staff and our leadership team are constantly working with our users to better understand emerging technologies in an ever-changing landscape that allow our user base to continue to define the leading edge of research.”

To inquire about using the cleanroom facilities, email nanolab@ucla.edu.