- Steve Addazio's inaugural press conference as Boston College head football coach (pg. 9)
- Wake Forest University president Nathan Hatch's keynote address at the Sesquicentennial symposium "Religion and the Liberal Aims of Higher Education" (pg. 34)
- David B. Couturier, OFM Cap., on "New Evangelization for Today's Parish" (pg. 42)
- Guerilla Orchestra: the Callithumpian Consort and student musicians rehearse John Zorn's Cobra (pg. 10)
Updates, special features, and a day-by-day history of Boston College
View upcoming events at Boston College
Books by alumni, faculty, and staff
Alumni in the news
Order books noted in Boston College Magazine
Join the online community of alumni
View the current BCM in original format
Invented in 1924, the spiral-bound notebook plays a diminishing role on the modern campus. The one pictured above, however, serves high-tech aims. It sits in the dressing area of Boston College’s clean room, which is located on the Newton Campus and houses state-of-the-art equipment used by biologists, chemists, and physicists. Before entering the virtually dust-free room (with air filtered to a level 100 times cleaner than that of a typical laboratory), researchers don white Tyvek “bunny” suits—to cut down on particulate matter—and sign this logbook.
During the 11 days of February 10–20 (above), for example, three dozen undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students, allied with eight laboratories and two high-tech companies (both outgrowths of University research), worked in the clean room, which opened in 2007.
The log records that Timothy Kirkpatrick, a doctoral physics student, arrived at noon on Monday, February 10, and for the next six and a half hours worked with the “sput,” short for sputterer, a machine that deposits layers of metal one or two atoms thick on plastic or metal substrates. Kirkpatrick was helping create an experimental solar cell composed of carbon nanotubes roughly 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. He returned three times in the next 10 days (his initials are visible at the bottom of the left-hand page) for more work with the sputterer and other devices and to inspect for problems between the layers using the scanning electron microscope (SEM), which can see into crevices that are too narrow for light particles to penetrate.
At the molecular level, distinctions between the sciences blur. Biologists carry out work traditionally the domain of phys-icists or chemists and vice versa. Huaizhou Zhao (his name is partially obscured by the gloved thumb) is a chemist by training but is doing postdoctoral work in the physics department on a project with biologists—modifying the architecture of a solar cell to create a biological/chemical sensor, which can look for so-called biomarkers indicating cancer in blood cells.
The language used to describe work that takes place in a clean room may seem familiar to someone in a machine shop, albeit that the work takes place at a far smaller scale. Trilochan Paudel, a fourth-year physics Ph.D. student from Nepal (his initials are the last recorded on these pages) describes his project: “I was working on electron-beam lithography to create nickel dots of around 150 nanometers in diameter for growing carbon nanotubes. It’s very similar to photolithography, where people use light to make patterns, but we use an electron beam.”
When they complete their work, the scientists return to the dressing room, where they strip down to street clothes, sign out, and resume breathing the same air as the rest of us.