Skip to content Skip to navigation

National Science Foundation

Written by: 

The National Science Foundation supports two networks of user facilities, the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) and the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN).  Each is operated by a consortium of universities. The NNIN sites operate on an open-access model, subject to review for technical feasibility. See the NNIN Technical FAQs to learn how to choose and use an NNIN facility, and for information on costs and fees. A searchable list of nanofabrication and nanocharacterization tools available at the 14 NNIN sites is available online. The NCN provides simulation services and educational material through, supporting over one hundred thousand users from around the world. Many interactive educational materials can be viewed by guests, but users must register to run simulations.

National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network
  • Cornell NanoScale Science & Technology Facility, Cornell University
    Since its founding in 1977, the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility (CNF) has been a national user facility, where researchers from universities and companies across the country can access state-of-the-art fabrication and characterization tools, and learn to use them with the help of a knowledgeable technical staff. Over the years, the CNF user community has expanded at a steadily increasing rate, to the point that ~400 external research users take advantage of the facility, in addition to approximately an equal number of internal-to-Cornell users.
  • Stanford Nanofabrication Facility, Stanford University
    The Stanford Nanofabrication Facility (SNF) is a state-of-the-art, shared-equipment, open-use resource. This laboratory serves academic, industrial, and governmental researchers across the country and around the globe. The SNF is more than just a lab; it is a vibrant community of researchers. Our labmembers come from a wide variety of disciplines, with research in areas of optics, MEMS, biology, and chemistry, as well as process characterization and fabrication of more traditional electronics devices. We are especially committed to supporting use of micro- and nanofabrication technologies in non-traditional research applications. NF is housed in the Paul Allen Center for Integrated Systems building. The main facility consists of a 10,500 square foot Class 100 cleanroom that is populated with nearly 100 different instruments and fabrication tools. SNF supports a broad range of micro- and nanofabrication materials and processes. 
  • Lurie Nanofabrication Facility, University of Michigan
    The Lurie Nanofabrication Facility (LNF) at the University of Michigan is one of the leading centers worldwide on micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) and microsystems. It provides facilities and processes for the integration of Si integrated circuits and MEMS with nanotechnology, with applications in biology, medical systems, chemistry, and environmental monitoring. The LNF builds on its experience in integration of Si-based electronics with MEMS transducers and micropackaging to push these interfaces into the nanometer regime with emphasis on the fabrication, packaging, and testing of integrated devices for chemical and biological sensing, electrical stimulation of biological systems, and integrated fluidic systems.
  • Nanotechnology Research Center, Georgia Institute of Technology
    The Georgia Tech-NNIN (GIT-NNIN) site will especially emphasize the application of nanofabrication to bioengineering and biomedicine.  Much of the GIT-NNIN activity is carried out in the Nanotechnology Research Center (NRC).  The NRC is housed in the Marcus Nanotechnology Building, a 190,000 sq. ft. building that includes 20,000 sq. ft. of inorganic cleanroom and 10,000 sq. ft. of organic cleanroom, and the Pettit Microelectronics Building, a 100,000 sq. ft. building that includes an 8,500 sq. ft. inorganic cleanroom (75% class 100, 25% class 10).  The major fabrication facilities include thin film deposition, plasma processing, optical and electron beam lithography (100 keV / 4nm spot size JEOL JBX 9300FS), thermal processing, electroplating, wafer lapping, polishing, dicing, bonding and sawing, wire bonding, flip chip bonding, III-V MBE growth, a 2-metal/2-poly CMOS line and a MEMS line (ion implantation outsourced).  Characterization tools include optical and electron microscopy, X-Ray tomography, mass-spectroscopy, AFM, SCM, STM, stylus and optical profileometry, low/high force scanning nanoindentation tribology, surface analysis tools, and high speed electronic and optical testing.  Design and simulation tools are available on PC and workstation clusters under campus wide site licenses. 
  • Center for Nanotechnology, University of Washington
    The University of Washington NNIN node (UW-NNIN) has primary responsibilities in the areas of biological and life sciences, society and ethics (SEI), and, together with University of Michigan, in connecting the network to the aquatic science community. NTUF occupies over 3,000 sq ft of newly renovated laboratory space equipped with tools and facilities targeted towards the investigative needs of nanobio users. These include cell culture, scanning probe microscopies, laser scanning confocal microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, Raman confocal microscopy, surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy, and scanning and transmission electron microscopy. NTUF also provides complementary e-beam lithography, atomic layer deposition, and soft lithography services for rapid micro- and nanoscale prototyping. The adjacent Microfabrication Laboratory occupies 15,000 sq ft (8,000 sq ft of cleanroom space) and provides access to high-tech micro- and nanofabrication equipment including photolithography, thin-film deposition, plasma and chemical etching, and characterization processes. Photolithography is divided into acid/base chemical etching, and a suite of lithography equipment capable of 1 µm resolution using contact aligners. Thin-film is dedicated to metal deposition via sputtering or evaporation; etching of dielectrics and metals is performed via reactive ion etching.  High-temperature deposition equipment includes plasma-enhanced CVD, low-pressure CVD for silicon nitride and oxides, growth of silicon dioxide through wet oxidation, and a carbon nanotube reactor. The Microfabrication Laboratory also houses dip-pen nanolithography and nano-imprinting tools.
  • Penn State Nanofabrication Facility, Pennsylvania State University
    The Penn State Nanofab provides users with 24/7 open-access to facilities that enable fabrication of a wide range of devices and characterization to support fundamental and applied research in diverse fields spanning electronics to medicine. Academic and industry users can perform research on-site using facility equipment, training, and staff support. The technical staff can also provide “remote services” in which they do your research for you. The Penn State facilities consist of approximately 6000 square feet of clean room space and over 3000 square feet of supporting non-clean lab space that is located at our Materials Research Institute (MRI), Materials Research Laboratory (MRL), and Electrical Engineering West (EEW) Buildings. The largest laboratory in MRI contains clean process bays and adjoining semi-clean cluster areas that support all aspects of deposition and etching, micro- and nanolithography, and process metrology equipment. The second Keck Smart Materials Laboratory cleanroom in MRL contains several instruments specialized for complex ferroelectric oxide materials processing, which includes oxide thin film deposition (e.g., PZT, PLZT, SrTiO3, BaTiO3, etc.) and metal contact sputter deposition. The third lab in EEW contains additional process bays that support specialized MEMS processing systems for silicon and ferroelectric oxide device fabrication, which include new deep silicon and oxide reactive ion etch (RIE) tools and a XeF2 silicon release etch tool.
  • Nanotech, University of California at Santa Barbara
    UCSB has extensive facilities and research in nanotechnology.  Specific UCSB strengths include leading expertise in compound semiconductors, photonics, quantum structures, and expertise with non-standard materials and fabrication processes.  Research within the UCSB research community is highly collaborative, involving Materials Science, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and  Chemical,  Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering.  Areas of excellence include: compound semiconductor electronic and optoelectronic devices in GaAs, InP and the semiconductor nitrides; polymer and organic electronic and photonic devices; quantized electron structures and THz physics; spintronics, single electronics, and quantum computation; quantum optics; MEMS/NEMS, bio-instruments, and microfluidics.
  • Nanofabrication Center, University of Minnesota
    With an annual budget of approximately 1.9 M$, NFC runs a class 10 clean room with 14 permanent staff.  The node is currently planning for a major expansion as part of the planned Experimental Physics and Nanotechnology Building.  NFC hosts a full suite of processing tools for building micro and nano devices. The lithography section includes three Karl Suss contact printers, a Canon i-line stepper, and a Raith 150 direct write e-beam system. Etch capabilities include multiple RIE systems, an inductively coupled plasma system, a Bosch etcher for high aspect ratio etching in silicon, an ion mill system, and the typical wet etch stations. These film deposition capabilities include four evaporators, two sputtering systems, three LPCVD tubes which are used for doped and undoped poly, conventional and low stress nitride, LTO, PSG, and BPSG.  Other thin film tools include an atomic layer deposition system and a PECVD tool. Thermal processing includes conventional and rapid thermal ovens.  Other specialty systems include wafer bonding (Karl Suss), critical point drying, photomask generation, plating, sawing, and die bonding. The Minnesota node brings two areas of technical excellence to the network: energy and remote processing and characterization.  In the energy area, Minnesota has developed an MBE-like system for depositing calchogenides such as CIGS and CZTS.  Once completed, this system will be made available to researchers interested in thin film photovoltaic applications.  The second area of specialization at Minnesota is remote access. 
  • Microelectronics Research Center, University of Texas at Austin
    The Microelectronics Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin (MRC) provides opportunities to perform research in novel materials of interest to the IC industry, optoelectronics and nanophotonics, novel electronic devices and nano-structures, and interconnects and packaging. The UT-MRC laboratories are located at the JJ Pickle Research Campus, in northwest Austin. The UT-MRC laboratories reach users from many different fields: electronics, optics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, and chemical, mechanical, and petroleum engineering. Lab users include The University of Texas as well as non-UT academic and industrial users. The MRC is more than a clean room with open-access to advanced nano-fabrication equipment – it is a community of scientists who work together to share knowledge.
  • Center for Nanoscale Systems, Harvard University
    NNIN users will have access to the full capabilities  of the  Harvard University Center for Nanoscale Systems (CNS) which includes capabilities in the following areas: A Fully Instrumented Research Cleanroom for Nanofabrication and Soft Lithography; Electron-Beam and Optical Lithography; Advanced Electron-Beam, Optical, and Atomic Imaging; Materials Synthesis and Characterization; and Ion Beam Processing and Characterization. As part of the NNIN consortium, Harvard University emphasizes its the areas of 1) soft lithography and the assembly of nanoparticle and molecular electronics; 2) theoretical simulations of electron states and transport in nanoscale systems; and 3) the establishment of core computational resources to assist users in the understanding and visualization of new device structures.  In addition to increased emphasis on soft lithography and molecular electronics as part of NNIN, Harvard provides a new computational facility and dedicated staff to assist users in the understanding and visualization of next generation electronic structures, and access to these programs over the web.
  • Howard Nanoscale Science and Engineering Facility, Howard University
    The Howard Nanoscale Science and Engineering Facility (HNF) routinely engaged in research and development in diverse areas such as electronics, materials science, optics, polymer science, membrane technology, medicine, physics and chemistry. In 2002, HNF supported 113 unique users. The breakdown includes 91 students, 31 women and 64 underrepresented minority students. We have identified three major technical areas where major contributions to the next phase of the overall USA effort in nanotechnology are available to the user. The three technical areas are Electronics and Materials (wide band gap devices and applications to nanotechnology), Chemistry (Characterization Science), and materials (nanofiltration membranes and technology). Numerous other instruments and techniques for nanofabrication and characterization have been developed.
  • Colorado Nanofabrication Lab, University of Colorado
    The Colorado Nanofabrication Laboratory (CNL) at the University of Colorado is a user facility available 24/7 to academic and industrial researchers. We provide easy access to a wide range of equipment and are specifically set up for device and materials research that requires flexibility in terms of sample size and materials. Research in the facility covers a broad range including basic nano-scale science, electronic, optoelectronic and micromachined devices, as well as MEMS for medical and metrology applications. Examples include silicon MOSFETs, GaAs MESFETs, III-V photodetectors and laser diodes, SIC BJTs, quantum dot arrays, microthrusters, and microactuators.
  • Nanofab, Arizona State University
    The ASU NanoFab is a multi-user, multi-disciplinary facility open to internal and external users. The NanoFab is operated by the Center for Solid State Electronics Research (CSSER) within the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.  CSSER was established in 1981 and has historically supported research on a wide variety of materials, structures, and processes.  The recent scope of research includes: nanostructures, nanoionics, nano-photonics, BioMEMS, and molecular electronics. The ASU NanoFab offers a wide variety of state-of-the-art device processing and characterization tools to individuals, companies and government labs who need occasional or recurring access to such capabilities. The facility has more than 10 years experience in supporting external users, providing equipment and services for a full range of operations—from the wet world of bio-systems and chemistry to the dry world of inorganic materials, as well as hybrid structures in between.
  • Nano Research Facility, Washington University in St. Louis
    Nano Research Facility (NRF) cultivates an open and shared research environment that brings researchers across disciplines together, particularly in the emerging area of nanomaterials with applications in the energy, environment, and biomedical fields.  NRF will leverage the NNIN – the catalyst for change – to establish core labs with commitment to open and equal access to both internal and external users.  NRF core labs include a micro- and nano-fabrication lab (clean room class 100/1000), surface characterization lab, particle technology lab, and bio-imaging lab.  Technical staff will provide training on use of equipments that are available commercially and users become self-sufficient in use of these routine equipment and process.  To create technical competency for the NNIN community, we will collaborate with research labs to develop unique tools that are only available from Washington University in St. Louis.  Our commitment is to provide unique technical capabilities in areas of: knowledge-based synthesis of nanostructured materials , particle instrumentation tools for toxicity studies, and non-invasive imaging modalities for nano and biological applications