O'Neal Completes Nanotech Lab
In early 2010, the University of Georgia opened its new nano-bio clean room which is one of only a few like it in the country. In a partnership with Lord, Aeck and Sargent, O'Neal designed and constructed the 2,200-square-foot lab that provides an ultra-clean environment for nanotechnology research. Nanotechnology involves building and experimenting with tubes, films, and motors so tiny they measure only a molecule or two in size. This area of research is one of the fastest growing in the country.
The lab is built to remain completely clean – even a barely visible speck of dirt can ruin the tiny devices. Special pumps and filters continuously clean the air in the room so that it is 1,000 times cleaner than the rest of the air in the building. Students and researchers must wear special suits while in the room in order to keep dust and dirt particles away.
UGA researchers hope their work in the new nano-bio lab leads to scientific breakthroughs such as nanomotors which might be used for removing plaque from human veins to prevent heart attacks. Other research initiatives hope to develop other tiny devices to do things like detect toxins and viruses and aid in frameworks to grow new human tissues.
"Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize not only the physical sciences but the biological sciences," declared William Dennis, head of UGA's physics and astronomy department, in an interview with Lee Shearer of the Athens Banner Herald.
The new lab cost around $2.3 million to build, financed by the UGA Research Foundation and Georgia Research Alliance. Researchers feel this price is a bargain in the long run because of the discoveries made through their work in the lab.
Researchers are excited that they are able to collaborate in the new space. The UGA lab is different from others around the country because researchers in the biological fields are able to work with scientists in the fields on engineering, chemistry, and physics. This allows applications from the research to range from medicine, renewable energy, cancer research and even homeland security.
For pictures of this project and additional information, click here