FIRST is an interdepartmental cleanroom facility that is directly supported by the ETH Zürich. This technology platform serves the scientific community at the ETH Zürich. FIRST stands for Frontiers in Research: Space and Time, and it serves a multi-disciplinary spectrum of Departments within the ETH as well as industry, by supporting their research and development in a broad range of micro- and nanotechnologies.
Over the entire history of science, new discoveries have been made by going to extremes: shorter time scales, lower temperatures, greater intensities, higher energies, smaller distances, cleaner materials etc. The impact of technology for new scientific discoveries is well documented. FIRST-Lab is meant to provide a common technology and fabrication facility for research within ETH at these frontiers. One of the tasks for a university is to be at the technical forefront, which makes it very difficult to predict upcoming breakthroughs and to determine the precise needs for different technological support over the next 10 years. Therefore, FIRST was set up with as much flexibility as possible. An open concept has been implemented, which can react quickly to the scientific needs of a rapidly changing field, and is also open to the participation of newly established research groups. The FIRST-Lab will be driven by scientific motivation, i.e. technology will serve as a tool for science.