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Winter 2010

Happy, quiet, New Year!


World's Quietest Science Lab

A science laboratory dubbed "the quietest in the world"
has opened in Bristol

Bristol University's Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information (NSQI), on Tyndall Avenue, cost £11 million and boasts some of the "lowest vibration and acoustic noise levels ever achieved". The "low noise" area is housed in a basement which includes a suite of "ultra low vibration nanoscience laboratories" that are anchored to the rock below.

The facility is a test environment for technology requiring vibrations and air movements to be as close to zero as possible—such as engineering and nano surgery. Innovations being tested in the suite include a new material made of tiny diamonds which promises a greener way of producing electricity by enabling the sun's heat to be converted directly into electricity.

A spokesman for the project said, "The unique environment offered by the NSQI will allow experiments on this material to be undertaken at levels of precision surpassing that achieved in other laboratories around the world."

This week Bristol scientists hailed the first-ever calculation performed on an "optical computer chip" which uses light particles rather than traditional circuitry. The chip, the size of a penny, has the capacity of a workbench full of equipment and promises processing power on a tinier scale than ever before. Scientists will use the lab for testing applications in nano surgery, enabling them to explore the surface properties of cancerous cells in more detail than ever done previously.

The building features curved limestone set out in the "Fibonacci series," a sequence of numbers first created by the Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, in 1202. The series has fascinated mathematicians for more than 800 years and featured in The Da Vinci Code. Its atrium dome is shaped like a "bucky ball," a molecular structure which resembles a football and is composed entirely of carbon atoms. It was named after Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller.

Self cleaning glass has been installed which uses nano particles to break down dirt that is then washed away by rainwater. University Vice Chancellor Professor Eric Thomas said: "Creating the NSQI Centre is a statement of intent that the University of Bristol is committed to attracting and retaining many of the world's foremost researchers in nanoscience and quantum information."

— This is Bristol.co.uk,
Evening Post web pages

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