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UW Nanofabrication Facility Receives $37 Million to Expand

The UW Washington Nanofabrication Facility (WNF), directed by EE Professor Karl Bohringer, has received up to $37 million in funding from the UW Board of Regents for an extensive expansion project.

“The building infrastructure is from the 80s and desperately needs updating,” Bohringer said. “Lab activities have about tripled in the past four years since we started management.”

The funding is specifically for infrastructure enhancements and will expand the current 7,000 square feet of cleanroom space to 15,000 square feet. The cleanrooms, which minimize environmental pollutants such as dust and vapors, are necessary as the materials the researchers are developing are often smaller than the width of a strand of hair.

The largest public access fabrication center in the Pacific Northwest, the WNF provides access to micro and nanofabrication processing equipment, which is used to make small computer chips and sensors for various electronic devices. In just the past two years, 18 new pieces of equipment have been added.

There are currently about 140 active users in the lab every month. The same equipment used by UW faculty and students is available to researchers from various businesses and start-ups. Operating a shared facility proves to be cost-effective as the machines can cost upwards of several million dollars.

Construction is scheduled to start in the winter of 2016, with an expected completion date of summer 2017.

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