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New clean room to help advance microfabrication at iBEST

iBEST's new clean room, depicted from the outside

This fall, an investment in the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Science and Technology (iBEST) labs will allow professors like Scott Tsai to further their research in microfabrication. iBEST's new clean room, a space that is equipped to limit dust particles, will allow tiny structures to be built with precision without having to outsource the fabrication, said professor Tsai, a researcher at Ryerson's Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. The funding for the clean room equipment – provided jointly by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Ryerson University – is close to $1 million.

"When you are fabricating things with very intricate detail and at a very small size, some of the features on the devices are the size of dust particles," said professor Tsai. "For that reason, you need to work in a very clean place."

Professor Tsai was recently recognized for his contribution to creating tiny bubbles (microbubbles) for use in enhancing ultrasound imaging and potential drug delivery. His creation of a novel technique to reduce the size of microbubbles made waves in his field last year.

Professor Tsai was able to reduce the size of microbubbles in a uniform fashion using lab-on-a chip technology to remove air from the microbubbles in order to shrink them. To achieve this remarkable breakthrough, he used an off-site fabrication lab. The new clean lab will allow him to perform his future work inside the shared labs with St. Michael's Hospital.

A theme lead in biomedical delivery systems at iBEST, professor Tsai collaborates with Ryerson physics professors Raffi Karshafian and Michael Kolios, as well as Dr. Howard Leong-Poi from St. Michael's Hospital, whose research expertise lies in ultrasound-supported drug delivery. Other researchers who will benefit from the clean room are those working to build microstructures, like professor Dae Kun (Rilla) Hwang of the chemical engineering department at Ryerson.