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Cleanroom Sizes

A simple guide to understanding the sizes used in the BYU cleanroom




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  1. How small is...
  2.   a centimeter?
    1. Definition: Centi means 1 part in 100. Therefore, there are 100 centimeters in a meter.
    2. Notation: cm
    3. Comparison: A centimeter of hair similar to this one, laid out side by side, could contain more than 116 strands.
  3.   a millimeter?
    1. Definition: A millimeter is 1/1,000 of a meter.
    2. Notation: mm
    3. Comparison: If you laid out 1,000 strands of hair similar to the one shown on the right, side to side, the width would be 86 millimeters.
  4.   micro?
    1. Definition: Micro is a prefix meaning one-millionth or 10-6 units.
    2. There are 1,000,000 micrometers (or microns) in a meter.
    3. Notation: Ám
    4. Comparison:A strand of hair can be anywhere from 20 Ám (microns) to200 Ám in diameter.
  5.   nano?
    1. Definition: Nano is a prefix meaning one-billionth, or 10-9,or 1/1,000,000,000!
    2. Notation: nm
    3. Comparison: This strand of hair is approximately 150,000 nm (nanometers) wide.
    4. If you were a three nanometers tall, a cross section of this strandcould look like the Grand Canyon.
  6.   an Angstrom?
    1. Definition: An Angstrom is 1x10-10meters, and can be used to measure atomic sizes.
    2. Notation:
    3. Comparison: This strand of hair is about 1,500,000 ┼ in diameter.
  7. When is...
  8.   a centimeter used?
    1. The common use of the centimeter is to refer to a wafer size.
    2. Our most commonly used wafer is 10.16 cm in diameter
  9.   a millimeter used?
    1. The wrenches used in the cleanroom to maintain the equipment are in the millimeter range.
  10.   a micron used?
    1. Our "large" measurements are usually in microns.
    2. Typical hair diameter: 86 microns
    3. Common oxide thickness: 1.5 microns
  11.   a nanometer used?
    1. More refined measurements in the cleanroom are on the nano scale.
  12.   an Angstrom used?
    1. This measurement is not commonly used in the cleanroom.

magnified strand of hair
A strand of student hair magnified 10 times. *Width is approximately 86 Ám
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