MIT.nano to celebrate grand opening today

Building home to roughly 100,000 square feet of lab space

8715 nyssa miller   nyssa miller   project building 12   orange lab
A corridor in Building 12, also known as MIT.nano, which is set to have its grand opening Oct. 4.
Nyssa Miller

MIT.nano, a facility devoted to nanoscale measurement and engineering, will have its grand opening Oct. 4. The building contains roughly 100,000 square feet of laboratory space, making it the largest facility of its kind in the United States.

There are five main floors. Floors one and three contain shared laboratory spaces, both enclosed and open-air. The first floor will also display artwork from both the scientific community and local artists.

Floors two and four are mainly dedicated to large chambers which circulate the air for the laboratory spaces in floors one and three, respectively. Floor five is mainly comprised of undergraduate chemistry teaching laboratory spaces.

The basement houses imaging facilities, including cryo-electron microscopes that are capable of measuring lengths of 0.3 nanometers and cost approximately $5 million each, Tom Gearty, communications director for MIT.nano, said in an interview with The Tech.

The laboratory facilities and equipment of the MIT.nano building are available to use for a fee by anyone who has proper training to do so, Gearty said. MIT affiliates will receive a discount.

The building only has offices for staff directly involved in the maintenance of the building itself. No professors from any department are housed there because, as Gearty claimed, MIT.nano belongs to no single department and is represented as a collaboration amongst different ones.

The building cost approximately $400 million and funding came from a variety of internal sources, according to Vladimir Bulović, MIT.nano director, in an interview with The Tech.

Fifty-one percent of professors within the School of Science and 67 percent of professors within the School of Engineering cited a need for nanoscale technologies and measurements as part of their work, according to Bulović. The survey was administered to professors who received tenure within the last 10 years.

The formal plans for this building began roughly seven years ago, Bulović said. Along with Bulović, other MIT faculty and centers such as the Microsystems Technology Laboratories and the Materials Research Laboratory supported this endeavor and provided insight on which microscopy instrumentation to include. Wilson Architects oversaw the design.

Collectively, the building took 999 days to fully construct, according to Bulović. Although the certificate of occupancy for the building was awarded June 6, equipment will continue to be moved in and out in the upcoming years.

The building is located in a central part of campus and contains large glass windows, which make it possible to see directly into laboratory spaces inside and reflect the transparent nature of the work. Gearty explained that this design choice is intended to encourage researchers from different departments to interact with one another.