The ideal environment for an electron microscope is the moon—far away from all disruptions. Since that’s not
plausible, design considerations need to be made to house such a powerful instrument.
Belong on the Moon
OUTLOOK ON LAB DESIGN
Question: what laboratory device is the size
of a Subaru Outback, weighs roughly 7,000
pounds, costs approximately $5.5 M, and requires an environment that is best achieved with
gravity as its only ambient influence?
Answer: a powerful electron microscope, a
device that is at the leading edge of a new wave
of breakthroughs in cell biology and cancer
Designing and constructing a space that can
house an electron microscope is a challenge
that architects and medical research institutions
across the country are currently navigating when
planning highly technological research facilities.
These state-of-the-art instruments allow
researchers the ability to capture atomic-scale,
Designing a new, ground-up building to ac-
commodate an electron microscope would be
the ideal scenario for architects. However, the
need to get these operations online as soon as
possible means that the renovation of an existing
building is more often the only option.
The first step of siting an electron microscope
is to perform a feasibility study that evaluates
not only the spatial needs for the facility, but also
measures ambient environmental influences that
may prevent the tool from operating properly.
Some of these environmental influencers include:
• Temperature: Many electron microscopes are
extremely sensitive to temperature fluctuations,
and the most sophisticated scopes must be
located within a space capable of being held
within a +/-0.1° C temperature range at all
times, including when staff enter and exit the
room. Using hydronic radiant panels, insula-
tion, ventilation control, and redundant heating
and cooling sources is critical.
• Interfering waves: Performance also depends
on the ability to mitigate ambient acoustic and
electromagnetic interference, including many
of the frequencies created by mass transit networks, vehicles, nearby construction activities,
elevators, and building infrastructure systems