Willis Whitfield, the former lab physicist, has passed away at the age of 92. Fifty years ago, whilst working as a scientist at Sandia Labs, Whitfield invented the modern-day cleanroom.
Whitfield had his initial drawings for the new cleanroom by the end of 1960. His solution for dealing with the turbulent airflow and particles found in cleanrooms of the day was to constantly flush out the room with highly filtered air.
His creation created a work environment that was more than a thousand times cleaner than any other cleanroom at the time. Today, cleanrooms and clean benches based on Sandia’s design are used in the manufacture of precision mechanical assemblies for systems designed at the national security laboratory.