From New Scientist:
It’s one of the most controlled places on the planet. At Australia’s newest nanoscience centre, the air is 100 times cleaner than a sterile surgical operating theatre, and even the slightest vibrations from passing trucks or radio waves are completely blocked out.
The Sydney Nanoscience Hub will allow scientists to zoom in on the strange processes that occur at scales as small as one billionth of a metre or second. In order to probe these tiny effects, the facility has been designed to have ultimate stability, says its director Simon Ringer. “We believe it will allow us to delve into the phenomena and processes that are happening in crazy small slices of time and space – that’s where all the action is happening.”
“When you’re focusing down on atoms, a tiny little vibration associated with someone walking down the hall can be like an earthquake,” says Ringer. “This means that everything needs to be completely controlled so that the things we’re observing are true and not the result of environmental disturbances.”
Temperature, pressure and humidity are all held steady within the building. Each laboratory is encased inside a Faraday cage, to shield them from electromagnetic radiation. Air passes through special filters to make it clean and smooth flowing, while floating floors allow labs to remain undisturbed by movements elsewhere in the facility.