Cancer research lab, a challenging micro-vibration design



A donated land to three universities near a river bank, in an urban setting prompted the universities to commission a state-of-the-art cancer research lab for a prominent scientist. The site ambient vibration was measured around 2000 micro-inches/sec due to nearby highways, light-rail system, and long-term construction staging area, among others. The research lab requirements were dictated by high-end Scanning Electron Microscopes, Transmission Electron Microscopes, etc. The vibration specification for these tools demanded the environment to perform at or below 50 micro-inches/sec, a factor of 40 reduction. Typically, we desire the site ambient to lie below the vibration criterion with some margin to allow for contribution from building MEP sources. This unusual site condition presented on the surface, an impossible design challenge. We developed a multi-pronged design approach that took advantage of the soil condition at the site and designed a specialized foundation for the lab floor, and supplemented it with improvement on the tool-based isolation system by implementing an active isolation system. The final result was that the 40x site vibration was reduced to below lab vibration criterion curve of 50 micro-inches/sec. To our knowledge, the structural and foundation system of this lab is one-of-a-kind in the world.