University of Johannesburg breaks ground on nanofab research facility

The project will hold an ISO Class 7 facility with two ALD reactors costing over $1.2m

The University of Johannesburg's Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) is looking forward to the new Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) cleanroom facility that will transform the South African economy while also ensuring that cutting-edge and high-quality learning opportunities are on offer.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has broken ground on a major nanofabrication facility at the School of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering. The new build will house world-class ALD reactors in a cleanroom environment.

UJ aims to lead the world's research and development on cutting edge nanomaterial fabrication technology. The establishment of the Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) cleanroom facility will assist in providing academics with the ability to manage material properties at an atomic level.

Practical applications of nanotechnology include the use of ALD ultrathin films in, for example, photovoltaics, optical coatings, barrier coatings to protect against tarnish and corrosion, and in a variety of semiconductors, superconductors, and flexible electronics.

The project, scheduled to finish in four months, is one of the country's major mega-engineering facilities in Africa.

"This is an incredibly exciting time for the Faculty of Engineering," said Professor Daniel Mashao, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE). "The building will be spectacular and we'll be doing great science here very soon as we have the space and infrastructure to grow and do research in a way we simply couldn't do before."

Professor Tien-Chien Jen, the substantive Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering who is currently on an international expedition in the US, spearheads the project. This ALD cleanroom facility with the two state-of-the-art reactors (R-200 and R-200 advance supplied by Picosun, Oy) were funded by NRF NEP (National Equipment Program) and IBP (Infrastructure Bridge Program) with total funding around US$1.25 million.

This ALD cleanroom facility will provide be ISO Class 7 and a nearly vibration-free environment for the two ALD reactors (Picosun R-200 and R-200 advance).

The facility began construction on Wednesday 19 May 2019 and is expected to be finished by September 2019 and fully functional by November.

Laboratory activities will be aimed at offering a wide range of services: ALD applied research studies, demonstrating ALD opportunities, integrating ALD into various industries, implementing international ALD experience, manufacturing and analysing samples, coating services and pilot manufacturing, as well as technology training and applying ALD equipment.