Brown University School of Engineering

Microscopic Moves

Extreme care and precision will be taken to disassemble this delicate electron microscope which will be moved to a lab with electromagnetic shielding systems in the new research building.Extreme care and precision will be taken to disassemble this delicate electron microscope which will be moved to a lab with electromagnetic shielding systems in the new research building.A flurry of new activity is expected in the coming months, as the process of moving high-cost and sensitive equipment into Brown’s new Engineering Research Center begins.

 Engineering Professor David Paine has a notebook full of numbers and timelines on his desk. But as Director of the Electron Microscopy Facility, there are several priorities he has been especially concerned with during construction of the new Engineering Research Center. More than 77 highly technical projects will be supported and housed in the new building when it reaches full occupancy in 2018. Critical for many of those projects will be the presence and performance of the microscopy facility, and its five high-value microscopes, moving from the basement of Barus and Holley into the new building.

Each of those electron microscopes has at least four different delicate accessories. Many of those accessories were manufactured by different vendors, and those vendors come from countries such as Japan, the Netherlands, and the U.K., as well as the United States.

“These accessories, obviously, are critical when you are looking at resolutions at the atomic level,” Paine said. “In order for each one to meet its specifications and calibrations when set up in the new space, only the specific manufacturing company will do that. Voltage requirements, designed specifically with the instrument in mind, are just one component that might be measured differently.”

This means adherence to a moving schedule with windows for the disassembling of the accessories in Barus and Holley; the breakdown of the very large, yet fragile and sensitive microscopes themselves; the physical movement by the rigging company of the massive pieces into the new building; and then the reassembling and calibration of both microscopes and accessories in their new environment.

This is just one of the more than a dozen scheduled projects that will be taking place in a five-week span. “We’ve been delighted with the building construction team, as well as the support from both University administration and all of engineering,” said Paine, whose involvement in the project is not only as director of the microscopy facility and engineering professor, but also from the office of the Provost (where he served as Associate Provost for Academic Space during the last two years).  

Of course, there is much confidence in the structure and operational elements of the new building. From the humidity control functions to power requirements to the utilities of the new labs, the 80,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility promises to be at the forefront of facilities for nanoscale engineering and multidisciplinary research.

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