Precision Laboratory

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Precision Laboratory

The newly constructed Precision Laboratory on the Büsnau campus is a worldwide unique building providing a ‘noise-free’ environment for the most sensitive experiments.  The facility was built on an initiative of Prof. Kern in close collaboration between the construction department of the Max Planck Society, HammesKrause Architects and the Institute. Only five years passed from the conception (2008) to the inauguration (2012) of the building. The Precision Laboratory is a large isolated experiment hall partially enclosed by an office/service lab wing. The hall comprises eleven individually decoupled experiments. Each experiment is seismically, acoustically, and electromagnetically shielded from the environment. In order to technically realize these experimental environments, the challenges in the construction of the new laboratory pushed the technical limits and set new standards.

Acoustically, each experiment is encapsulated by a concrete box with 60 dB attenuation to isolate it from the immediate laboratory environment. External vibrations are dampened by a massive concrete block inside the acoustic box weighing between 100t and 190t. Set on air springs, vibrations are reduced to a level below 10nm/s, several orders of magnitude smaller than the best industry standard today. For experiments operating at temperatures below 100mK, the acoustic boxes are also electromagnetically shielded by a closed metal shell yielding 100dB attenuation. All other boxes are encapsulated by a 60dB shielding. Further, the building has been constructed such that general noise sources have been reduced as well. This includes, but is not limited to separate acoustic boxes at each experiment for noisy equipment, such as roughing pumps, shielded power lines, an all optical data network and, correspondingly, an all optical voice-over-IP telecommunication. The research focus in the new laboratory is centered on manipulation and spectroscopy of individual atoms, molecules, and nanostructures as well as transport measurements of quantum structures at lowest temperatures and high magnetic fields. The Nanoscale Science Department operates five different experiments in the Precision Laboratory. All experiments comprise scanning tunneling microscopes with specific applications, ranging from sample gating, to photon detection, to ultra-low temperatures for highest energy resolution. In addition, the Solid State Quantum Electronics and the Quantum Materials Departments as well as the Solid State Nanophysics and the Tunneling Spectroscopy Research Groups and the Nanostructuring Lab are users in the Precision Laboratory. 

Many experiments existing today are specialized in one maybe two applications, i.e. they have good vibrational stability for topography measurements, but spectroscopically they are not optimized. However, particularly for scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy pushing the limits to new frontiers requires improvement of the performance in every aspect, because at the ultimate frontier everything has an impact on everything else. Transport measurements are planned at 1mK and in magnetic fields of more than 20T. Here, small vibrations will heat the sample and induce unwanted eddy currents, thereby, reducing the ultimate energy resolution. The Precision Laboratory sets new standards for future ‘noise-free’ laboratory environments. It ensures and sustainably strengthens the Institute’s leading position in condensed matter research at the nanoscale.

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