Every day, researchers come to MIT.nano to investigate at the nanoscale, but what’s it like to work there? On Aug. 21, MIT.nano staff invited their family members to come see what it takes to support discovery, education, and innovation in this cutting-edge research facility.
More than 50 people attended — spouses and partners, parents and children, nephews and nieces, in-laws, and others. The event was so much fun that staff and families alike were asking to do it again; by the end of the day calling it the “first annual” MIT.nano Family Day.
After a welcome from Vladimir Bulović, faculty director of MIT.nano and Fariborz Maseeh Professor of Emerging Technologies, technical staff introduced the families to the building and its various facilities. Following a behind-the-scenes tour of some of the infrastructure spaces, they enjoyed lunch in MIT.nano’s East Lobby, then split into groups for hands-on experiences throughout the building.
In MIT.nano’s characterization facility, visitors gained a firsthand look at the powerful microscopes positioned inside the basement imaging suites and learned how to minimize vibrational and electromagnetic interference in order to make videos of atoms. In one suite, the guests viewed individual columns of atoms using an aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope. In another, staff demonstrated how to use micro-computed tomography (microCT) to obtain three-dimensional imagery of the interior of electronic devices, biological samples, and other objects.
The next stop was the MIT.nano Immersion Lab for demonstrations of sensing technology and immersive experiences. Family members put on a mixed-reality headset and were transported — virtually — into the cockpit of an airplane preparing for takeoff. Those not interested in flying stepped inside a virtual art studio complete with balloons on the ceiling and snow falling outside.
Family members also donned full-body protective clothing called “bunny suits” and headed into MIT.nano’s cleanroom. As they toured the nanofabrication facility, the visitors observed researchers operating equipment and tested a particle counter that illustrated just how much of a wrecking ball dust can be at the nanoscale. A smaller group of volunteers joined MIT.nano staff in using the cleanroom processing tools to expose, develop, and etch a Family Day group photo onto a 50-nanometer-thick layer of aluminum on a silicon wafer, now displayed in MIT.nano’s first floor cleanroom window.
The day concluded with an ice cream social and swag grab in MIT.nano’s courtyard, where staff and their visitors mingled with one another as a new, extended MIT and MIT.nano family.