Taking quantum to the community

Taso and Nathan in lab
Taso and Nathan in lab
The University of Waterloo has officially opened its state-of-the-art Inert Atmosphere Fabrication Lab (IAFL) as part of the Quantum-Nano Fabrication and Characterization Facility (QNFCF).

Many materials used in quantum-nano fabrication can easily react with oxygen, so they must be assembled in a special, oxygen-free environment. This lab was carefully designed and built by the QNFCF team, with help from Angstrom Engineering and JEOL USA, to support the quantum research community at the University of Waterloo and beyond.

Managed by QNFCF, the lab offers open access and professional maintenance to benefit researchers and industry partners through the Quantum Collaboratory initiative. It offers training and consultation for those who want to learn how to use the facility for their projects.

Facilities like these enable researchers at Waterloo to advance basic and applied research in quantum science, quantum computing and quantum simulation. By pushing the frontiers of knowledge in these areas, they are driving the development of new technologies and enhancing our understanding of physics and materials.

The grand opening event, held at the Research Advancement Centre (RAC) building in David Johnston Research and Technology Park, showcased the facility’s cutting-edge capabilities and emphasized its role in fostering a vibrant research community.

"Today is really all’about building community," said Dr. Nathan Nelson-Fitzpatrick, director of the Quantum-Nano Fabrication and Characterization Facility. "We are not just advancing scientific research but also creating an environment where collaboration and training go hand in hand."

The facility’s commitment to training and community engagement is evident in its extensive training programs.

"Last year, we provided over 1000 hours of one-on-one training to graduate students and other community members. So, we’re building up a knowledgeable core of skilled users," said Nelson-Fitzpatrick. "This year, I aim to hold more events like this to foster networking, learning and community-building so we can discuss processes and instrumentation to collectively advance all’our work."

The facility is designed to advance research and development in nanofabrication and characterization. Nanofabrication is the process of designing and creating extremely small structures and devices at nanoscale, while characterization refers to the methods used to analyze and measure the properties and behaviour of these tiny structures.

Taso Alkiviades, a lab technologist at RAC was a leading figure in the development of the IAFL, detailed the intricate process of creating this world-class facility.

"We needed to ensure the lab met the stringent requirements for our scientific equipment," Alkiviades explained. "This included vibration analysis, custom glovebox designs and integrating complex equipment for 2D material assembly and characterization."

The grand opening concluded with a lecture by Adam Wei Tsen, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, who discussed his research and the scientific advancements that he made that were enabled by the IAFL. A tour of the RAC facilities and their capabilities followed.

Waterloo’s focus on interdisciplinary and interconnected research allows technologies to be applied in new areas and industries for the positive advancement of humanity. The event highlighted the facility’s role in pushing the boundaries of nanofabrication and characterization, promising exciting developments in the field and strengthening the quantum research community overall.

For more information about the Quantum-Nano Fabrication and Characterization Facility and its resources, please
Jordan Flemming