Applied Physics gathering on the Albano campus
From Kista to House 3
The two divisions within Applied Physics, the Materials and Nanophysics division and the Photonics division that contain approximately ten research groups and 70 persons in total, moved to the new building House 3 in the new Albano campus during spring and summer 2020. At the same time, the division for Nanostructure Physics moved from the main AlbaNova building into House 3.
But why did these research groups move to Kista in the first place?
– The background to this is that KTH and Stockholm university planned to move into the common physics center AlbaNova during the 1990s. The planning encompassed the whole of the physics related activities at KTH but during the IT-boom at the end of the decade KTH leadership changed the plans and decided that the optics and materials physics divisions should instead move to Kista, says Oscar Tjernberg , Head of Department of Applied Physics.
In Kista, which today is the world's second largest Information and Communications Technology cluster after Silicon Valley in California, these divisions were with time integrated with some of the solid state electronics parts that were already located in Kista and through several reorganizations, including the move of a materials theory group from the ITM school and a materials chemistry group from the CBH school to Kista, formed the Materials and Nanophysics department. The core of the department and in particular the more basic research oriented groups continued to have strong ties to former physics department groups at AlbaNova and in for example RAE evaluations the Kista department was evaluated together with the Applied Physics department. The idea of reintegrating the physics divisions in Kista with the divisions at AlbaNova was entertained by several people in Kista as well as at AlbaNova already from the beginning and around 2010 these discussions starting taking more solid form. In 2016 the President of KTH decided, after a report written by Gunnar Landgren, that the two Kista divisions should move to the SCI school in 2017 and after a reorganization of the physics related activities at the SCI-school the two new Physics and Applied physics departments were formed. The physical move of the two Kista divisions were also decided by rector but pending the new house at Albano.
The planning of the move started in 2016 and was planned for April-May 2020 but during 2019 it became evident that KTH and SU did not agree on the disposition of the spaces in the building. The original planning for offices in the building was therefore overturned as late as April 2020 and the localization of different groups had to be redone at the very last minute including the cancellation of the move of one group from the AlbaNova building for which there was no space in the new building due to the new agreement between KTH and SU.
– This rearrangement with some not so happy feelings among the groups was carried out successfully during May 2020. Moving labs is an entirely different thing and often involves moving heavy and delicate equipment, disassembly and assembly by external companies, says Oscar Tjernberg and mentions that in the middle of the pandemic this was in many cases not possible or severely delayed.
– In my own case, we were in the process of doing upgrades and modifications at the same time as we were moving but deliveries were in some cases delayed by up to six months. At present, most of the labs have moved and have or are in the process of setting up in the new building but we still have three labs remaining in Kista, says Oscar Tjernberg.
One of these will remain in Kista for the foreseeable future, one is pending assistance from an outside company that has not been able to come due to Corona and one lab is pending the rebuilding of a lab in the AlbaNova building since there was no suitable lab in the new building.
Since spring 2020 and up until now there have been uncountable things to fix and adjust and there are still numerous planning errors and building mistakes discovered.
– In my own lab we are looking at moving the entrance door which is in the wrong place, adding sound proofing which was missed in construction and adding cooling which we did not specify with enough margin. It is very sobering to go through a technically challenging project of this magnitude. At some point, when I was feeling down after discovering several planning mistakes, the architects working with us on the labs comforted me by saying that it was completely normal to redo the installations in a lab at least two to three times to get it right, says Oscar Tjernberg.
In view of the fact that Nordita has not yet moved in, the skyway between the two buildings is not yet there, most people have been working from home the majority of the time and that most people consider it a nightmare to move a laboratory whether it is a pandemic or not, he is amazed by his colleagues' enthusiasm.
– I am impressed by the good spirit and positive attitude that everyone has shown. Almost everyone I have talked to seem very happy about the new possibilities for interaction and collaboration that will now be available, says Oscar Tjernberg.
Text: Sofia Nyström