PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania officially opened the region’s premier facility for advanced research, education and innovative public/private partnerships in nanotechnology on October 4. The 78,000 square-foot Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology will serve as the university’s focal point for work in the emerging field of nanotechnology.

“The Singh Center positions Penn to become our nation's leader in nano-scale science, education and research," said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “This is a stunning building that will bring together eminent Penn researchers and experts in private industry with state-of-the-art laboratories and production facilities. Nanotechnology is a vital field with tremendous momentum and vast opportunities for innovation and positive impact locally, nationally and globally. The Singh Center is a critically important part of Penn’s mission to advance both basic discovery and the application of those discoveries to improve society.”

Faculty from the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Arts and Sciences, and across the university will use the Singh Center’s characterization and fabrication suites. Each of the two 10,000-square-foot facilities is filled with state-of-the-art equipment and designed to enable the high-precision techniques that research at the smallest scales necessitates.

The characterization facility is situated on bedrock, 18 feet below the surface, to help minimize vibrations that would interfere with its various atomic and electron microscopes. Its labs are also designed to be isolated from temperature fluctuations, atmospheric turbulence and electromagnetic noise.

The fabrication facility on the Singh Center’s ground floor contains a next-generation cleanroom. Once in isolation garb, researchers will use its assembly tools to grow carbon nanotubes, deposit graphene, and etch microelectronic systems, among many other applications. The facility’s photolithography equipment is shielded from interfering ultraviolet light by a pane of marigold glass, which gives the center its signature color.

Beyond serving faculty in engineering, physics and chemistry, the Singh Center was built to spark interdisciplinary inquiry. An inviting gateway at the eastern entrance to campus, the center is already opening doors to new research throughout Penn’s 12 schools.

“The Singh Center’s facilities will allow researchers from a range of fields to analyze structure in the finest possible detail, from anthropologists working with ancient artifacts to biomedical researchers developing therapeutic molecules,” said Steven Fluharty, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. “Its impact will be felt far beyond the field of nanotechnology.”

The Singh Center will also help Penn-developed technology move from the lab to the marketplace via connections with local industry development leaders such as the Nanotechnology Institute and Ben Franklin Technology Partners, as well as Penn’s internal commercialization engine, the Center for Technology Transfer. Existing industry members, from pharmaceutical companies to computer chip designers, will also make use of the Singh Center’s characterization and fabrication facilities.