Australian Institute of Nanoscale Science and Technology; Australian Institute of Nanoscale Science and Technology;

Australian Institute of Nanoscale Science and Technology, Sydney

Realising a world-class nanoscience institute

Located in the grounds of the University of Sydney, the Australian Institute of Nanoscale Science and Technology is one of the most globally advanced laboratories to investigate nanoscience and nanotechnology.

The nanoscale refers to objects that are very small, less than 100 nanometres in size, with a nanometre measuring one billionth of a metre. Particles at the nanoscale behave differently to larger replicas, creating yet-undiscovered pathways to design solutions to the world’s problems.

Scientists can investigate new realms of atomic behaviour at the nanoscale that will impact the creation of medicines, renewable technologies, micro robotics and other advancements across many industries.

Arup provided the Reference Design and Principal’s Project Requirements Performance Brief for the Australian-first nanoscale research centre. Our team of building services engineers, located in Australia with support from Europe, realised designs for the prototyping facility and cleanroom, which is augmented by a bespoke electron microscope in one of the most electromagnetically and mechanically stable environments in the world.

Project Summary


$150m Sydney Nanoscience Hub

$10mquantum laboratory

25laboratory modules

Advanced research capability

Regarded as a leader in nanoscale research, the Institute houses advanced research capabilities, adjacent to existing comprehensive facilities for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

Designed to global standards to position Australia as a contributor to worldwide innovation in nanoscience, scientists at the Institute are undertaking research into possibilities across a variety of sectors: treating neurological disease, manufacturing with zero carbon dioxide emissions, designing quantum computers, capturing water from air and simulating atoms.

Our building services engineers drew on Arup’s international experience to design appropriate environmental control for highly scientific laboratories and instrumentation, including a $10m quantum laboratory. The laboratory operates under exacting environmental control – including electronic and magnetic interference, vibration and climate variation.

This level of control involved very high air change rates of precise temperature-controlled air, along with carefully designed distribution systems that result in extremely low noise and air movement in the laboratory spaces.

Due to the high-performance environment required for nanoscale science, we drew on our specialist experience from around the globe. In almost every regard, we tested the boundaries of capability of the building systems and structure. ”

Julian Soper Julian Soper Principal

Forecasting accurate costs for the project

A key challenge for the client was the minimal data available for costing the high-tech spaces: cryogenic transmission electron microscopy suites, precision metrology laboratories and large scale ISO4 to IS07 clean rooms.

In partnership with the quantity surveyor, we developed detailed designs for typical spaces, costed these in detail and then extrapolated cost data to generate $/m² rates for typical spaces.

This helped inform the project budget and manage aspirations to understand how much building could be developed.

Uni-directional airflow within the clean rooms

To achieve uni-directional airflow within the clean bay, return air is via perforated floor tiles into a sub-floor plenum. Power, water and gas services reticulate within the floor void to provide a highly flexible servicing platform for the specialist equipment within.

Return air rises vertically through adjacent chases within walls, offsetting the equipment sensible heat gains before returning to the air handling equipment.

The space above the clean bay ceiling contains fan filter units, sensible cooling coils and exhaust ductwork reticulation. The clean rooms were tested and commissioned to achieve the specified ISO cleanliness classification, along with a particle counter system to reduce air change rates during lower usage conditions, reducing energy use.

All images © Brett Boardman