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Professor Hugh Brady opens state-of-the-art University Cleanroom

Prof Andrew Nix, Prof Hugh Brady, Prof Tim Gallagher

From left: Professor Andrew Nix, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering; Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Hugh Brady, with a silicon wafer incorporating nano-devices manufactured in a cleanroom; Professor Tim Gallagher, Dean of the Faculty of Science

12 November 2015

The Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Hugh Brady, has officially opened the new University of Bristol Cleanroom. This multi-million pound facility is the jewel in the crown for research groups at Bristol who specialise in micro- and nano-fabrication.

In the highly controlled environment within the Cleanroom, the air is continuously filtered and the rooms’ inhabitants move around in ghostly blue body suits that prevent contamination. These extremes of cleanliness are necessary given that a single mote of dust would spell disaster for a device whose scale is less than a thousandth of a millimetre.  For such small devices any speck of dust, grit or fluff would be akin to dropping a wrecking ball on your home. The Cleanroom houses specialist research tools used by groups across the Faculties of Science and Engineering. Staff from departments as diverse as electronic engineering and plant life sciences spoke at the event to highlight the role the new facility will have in their research.

Professor Claire Grierson of BrisSynBio described the microfluidic devices unique to her group used for sorting and controlling individual cells which can only be made in the cleanroom and how this is empowering her international collaborations; Professor Mark Thompson of the Centre for Quantum Photonics highlighted the benefits to his cutting edge research in quantum technologies and the importance of being able to rapidly prototype new designs and ideas in photonics. Guest external speaker, Dr Ian Sturland of BAE Systems emphasised the applications of cleanroom technologies in modern industry. He noted that this University facility will help foster productive collaborations with industrial partners, as well as ensuring Bristol’s postgraduate students are trained in the state of the art tools used commercially.

Professor Brady was delighted to hear of the work going on in the Cleanroom and in particular the depth and scope of the research; he commented that the cross-faculty nature of this research environment is key to strengthening the research output of the University, a factor that is particularly important ahead of the forthcoming government reviews in science and research funding. The Cleanroom is situated on the first floor of the H.H. Wills Physics Laboratory and welcomes those interested in using microfabrication in their research and training.

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