A Quiet

Designed to accommodate the most sensitive microscopy research, the Materials Science and Metallurgy Building provides one of the quietest environments for the full range of materials science.

The new building for the University of Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy provides a new home for the department on the Physical Sciences campus in West Cambridge. The department is committed to making significant advances in the synthesis, processing and characterization of materials to deliver enhanced performance and addressing issues of sustainability and the scarcity of resources.

Formerly housed within five buildings in the city center, the 10,700-square-meter building consolidated the department’s staff, students and resources and provides new teaching space, offices, laboratories and specialized support spaces, including a large, free-standing Electron Microscopy Suite designed for the most sensitive microscopy research. Key project goals were to maximize opportunities for scientific interaction and provide for safe and efficient operations while providing a new and recognizable home for material scientists.

The building is designed to accommodate a range of scientific activity ranging from basic metallurgy through bio- and electro-chemistry, nano-science, coating and ceramics technology, to the most sensitive microscopy. One of the main challenges was minimizing disturbance and vibrations from competing activities of constituent research groups. The Electron Microscopy Suite is a structurally separate bunker that docks against the south side of the main building and meets the most stringent criteria for vibration control, acoustics, thermal stability, and minimizing electromagnetic interference.

The Electron Microscopy (TEM) Suite

The EM suite is built on a two-meter deep concrete slab to eliminate vibration. The facility is also designed to avoid electro-magnetic interference from external sources and is set to be one of the best-adapted places for electron microscopy in the world. The entire building is designed around the nature of the equipment needed for this type of research and the flexibility necessary for adapting to future technological developments and research needs.

TEM Modeling  and Testing A 2-meter concrete slab and multi-layerd walls and roofs shield the room from vibration and disturbances. A full-depth, room-sized test slab was constructed to test vibration performance.
TEM Section Microscope rooms are placed within the TEM suite, which is isolated from the main building.

Awards & Publications


S-Lab Awards, Shortlist, New Laboratories – Mixed Use and Teaching


Building Design, “Biodiverse Cambridge campus wins approval,” September 2010
Cambridge Network, “Topping out for Materials Science and Metallurgy Building,” May 2012