ROLE of IEST in nanotechnology

IEST is well established as the preeminent technical society in the areas of contamination control; design, test, and evaluation; and product reliability. Several areas of nanotechnology intersect with these fields, and IEST has taken many positive steps in response to this opportunity.

John Weaver
IEST Fellow and Past Board Member
Retired Facility Manager, Birck Nanotechnology Center (BNC) at Purdue University

Nanotechnology encompasses a broad field that is ripe for innovation and discovery. It already has yielded numerous advances in a wide range of technologies—including optics, medicine, electronics, material science and engineering, electromechanical systems, and many others. There is no limit to the innovations expected to be created as nanotechnology becomes more pervasive in our society, in a similar manner to the changes brought about by the microelectronics revolution.

IEST Working Groups have been established to write Recommended Practices (RPs) related to nanotechnology facilities. The first published document, IEST-RP-NANO200, provides an overview. A facility-safety document is well under way. In addition, the IEST has taken responsibility for ISO documents related to nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology facilities frequently incorporate cleanrooms of varying cleanliness levels. The IEST has played a dominant role in cleanroom development, specification, and operation, so it is a natural progression for us to expand our cleanroom presence into the realm of nanotechnology. Moving forward, nanotechnology cleanrooms will be a major area of focus for the IEST, encompassing design, construction, certification and monitoring, and operation.

Other Controlled Environments
Nanotechnology involves the intersection of existing technologies, which are then pushed to the nano scale. As an example, the intersection of fabrication—traditionally in the realm of microelectronics—and biosystems demands specialized environments, such as combining semiconductor-type equipment with Biosafety Level Two laboratories.

In addition to—and often in combination with—these intersections, control of other parameters becomes more critical. Levels of vibration, temperature control, and electromagnetic interference become far more sensitive in many nanotechnology facilities. These higher sensitivities sometimes are achieved through evolutionary development of existing technologies and sometimes require completely new technologies. Additionally, this development may involve the application of technologies from fields previously alien to the nanotechnologist.

Through both the Contamination Control Division and the Design, Test, and Evaluation/Product Reliability divisions, IEST has the expertise to address many of the issues inherent in these controlled environments.

Nanotechnology facility development, specification, and operation consist largely of the two areas previously mentioned—cleanrooms and other controlled environments—but also involves the integration of the disparate technologies into a single facility. As the IEST becomes involved in overall facility development, its primary role is the support of the internal controlled environments. Other areas of focus encompass specification of facility parameters and facility safety.