What's New at the Nano Center

Welcome to the Expanded Minnesota Nano Center!

The Nano Center is a state-of-the-art facility for interdisciplinary research in nanoscience and applied nanotechnology. In 2014, the Nano Center moved into new laboratories in the Physics and Nanotechnology Building (PAN), located adjacent to our existing cleanroom and labs in Keller Hall.

Our new facility offers several great new resources to support research and product development related to nanotechnology.

A new 5000 square foot cleanroom

The PAN clean room is equipped with ultra-high resolution lithography tools, including a state-of-the-art electron beam lithography tool capable of fabricating sub-10 nm features. Tools in the new cleanroom include:

  • a Vistec e-beam lithography system, capable of sub-10 nm resolution
  • an AJA II sputtering system for applying thin films on wafers or other substrates
  • a CHA e-beam evaporator for thin metal film deposition
  • a Heidelberg Laserwriter, the state-of-the art system for making lithographic masks
  • a Nanonex nanoimprint system, capable of patterning features smaller than 100 nm
  • an Oxford plasma etcher
  • an Intivac ion mill for etching tough-to-remove materials
  • an AV reactive ion etching system
  • a high resolution Amray field emission scanning electron microscope
  • a KLA P7 surface profiler
  • a Nanospec wafer inspection system for point-by-point determination of film thickness

These tools complement our full suite of nanofabrication tools in the Keller Hall cleanroom. The Keller cleanroom houses tools for growing dielectric thin films via low pressure chemical vapor deposition (LP-CVD) and plasma-enhanced CVD, metal film deposition, film annealing, optical patterning, soft lithography, wet and dry etching, and characterization. The Keller cleanroom remains a great facility for fabricating devices with features at the micron scale and larger, such as MEMS and microfluidic cells.

The Nanomaterials Lab

The Nanomaterials Lab allows researchers to make, modify, and analyze a wide range of nanoscale and microscale materials, such as nanoparticles, colloids, and micron-sized powders. The lab is equipped with:

  • systems to measure particle size distributions, including dynamic light scattering, laser diffraction, and nanoparticle tracking analysis
  • an optical particle analyzer to quantify particle shape and size
  • a zeta potential analyzer to determine colloidal properties (zeta potentials, conductivities, colloid stability, isoelectric point)

The Nanomaterials Lab also provides a full chemistry lab to synthesize and process particles and suspensions, including a controlled atmosphere glove box that allows particle processing in an oxygen- and moisture-free environment.

The Bio-Nano Lab

The Bio-Nano Lab offers facilities and equipment for working with live cells and other biomaterials. The Lab supports interdisciplinary research and discovery between nanotechnology and the biosciences, and complements other bioscience resources available at the University. The Bio-Nano lab is currently equipped with:

  • three biosafety cabinets for safely working with BSL-2 samples
  • three CO2 incubators, including a chilled system for incubating cell cultures at low temperatures (down to 5°C)
  • a laser scanning confocal microscope for imaging cells in multiple wavelengths
  • a fluorescence microscope system with high speed camera and image analysis
  • a general purpose autoclave
  • a controlled atmosphere glove box for anaerobic or aerobic cell handling
  • a laboratory refrigerator and freezer for sample storage

The Bio-Nano lab allows researchers to culture cell samples, apply nanoparticles made in the adjoining Nanomaterials Lab, and use these nanoparticles to image cells with fluorescence and confocal microscopes to investigate therapies.