Working at The Atomic Layer

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) aims to lead the world’s research and development on nanomaterial fabrication technology. A major nanofabrication facility housing world class ALD reactors at the School of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering broke ground for construction within the Department of Mechanical Engineering Science at the Auckland Park Kingsway Campus (APK).

The establishment of the Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) cleanroom facility will assist in providing academics with the ability to manage material properties at an atomic level. The desired materials with preferred nanostructure can be assembled by applying layers of atoms or molecules on the substrate to simultaneously achieve the required level of performance and precise parameter control.
Practical applications of nanotechnology include the use of ALD ultrathin films in photovoltaics, optical coatings, barrier coatings to protect against tarnish and corrosion, and in a variety of semiconductors, superconductors, and flexible electronics.
The project, scheduled to finish in four months, is one of the country’s major mega engineering facilities in Africa.
Growing research enterprise
“This additional laboratory space, designed specifically to encourage the kind of interdisciplinary research UJ, is known for will be critical to growing the school’s research enterprise,” says Dr Daniel
Madyira, acting Head of Department (HOD) for Mechanical Engineering Science.
Professor Tien-Chien Jen, the Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering who spearheads the project says, “The ALD cleanroom facility features two state-of-the-art reactors (R-200 and R-200 advance supplied by Picosun, Oy) which are funded by the NRF NEP (National Equipment Program) and the IBP (Infrastructure Bridge Program) with a total funding of around R18 million.
This project is a critical step in the institution’s vision of Industry 4.0, providing the technological basis for the construction of a cleanroom laboratory, which will assist our engineers when they use special ‘sub-nano-scopic’ techniques that allow the manufacturing of individual ultra-thin films on the surface with atomic scale deposition precision and
nearly prefect comformality.
This facility will illustrate a better understanding of the way that atoms/molecules move together to synthesise the new and functionalised
materials, that may have major impacts on our ability to design and use these new nanostructure materials for vast applications in the fields of energy, materials, medical devices and semiconductors.
Vibration free
This ALD cleanroom facility will provide an ultra-low number of particle (ISO- 7) and nearly vibrationfree environment for the two ALD reactors (Picosun R-200 and R-200 advance), which allow the engineering squad to
study numerous states and properties of various unique new nanomaterials at the atomic scale.
University of Johannesburg
Dr Daniel Madyira
Tel: (011) 559-555
www.uj.ac.za