Nanotechnology Research Labs ...
For Rent: One Nano Research Lab…
Say you’re an aspiring young nanotechnologist with
an idea for a new product. What are the barriers to moving your project
forward? One big barrier is the cost of the equipment to build and test
your nano-based prototype. For example an ebeam lithography system has a
price tag of a million dollars, not counting the cost of installation, a
facility to put it in, and maintance. The reality is that not just every
Tom, Dick, or Mary can set up a nano lab. What’s a researcher to do?
Rent a lab.
Several labs and facilities are making their
equipment available for nano related projects. Some simply charge a
rental fee, others may waive some or all fees if your research is
non-proprietary. Still others will test your materials for you if your
research is allied with their mission. Here’s a rundown of some of the
facilities offering this nifty service.
NNIN Lucky 13
If your in need of a lab your first step might be
to see if one of the thirteen facilities of The National Nanotechnology
Infrastructure Network (NNIN) located close to you has the equipment you
need. These facilities, supported by the National Science Foundation,
are focused on nanoscale fabrication and characterization (for example
measuring particle size distribution or material strength).
These centers are all located at universities such
as Cornell, Stanford, Georgia Institute of Technology,
University of Texas at Austin,
University of Minnesota,
and Harvard. Each was funded by the NSF to provide facilities for
researchers from industry and other universities. After completing a
training program to qualify on a particular tool you can rent equipment
to use in building or characterizing your little bit of nano material.
The DOE Office of Science Supports Nano Materials Research
If you are developing new nanomaterials you’ll be
happy to hear that the DOE has created
five facilities called Nanoscale
Science Research Centers. These Research Centers are located in National
Labs scattered around the country: Argonne National Laboratory in
Illinois; Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York
State; Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory in California;
Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge,
Tennessee; and Sandia National Laboratories in
The goal of these facilities is to encourage the
development and characterization of new nanomaterials. Each research
center has a number of focus areas that draws upon the expertise and
equipment of the National Lab where they are located.
For example, one focus at the Molecular Foundry at
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is on biological nanostructures;
one focus at The Center for Nanophase Material Science at Oak Ridge
National Lab is on nano enhanced catalysts, while down in
New Mexico the Center for Integrated
Nanotechnologies at Sandia National Lab includes among its focuses nanophotonics and
Making progress in the fight against cancer often
requires synergistic efforts that involve sharing ideas and tools. The
National Cancer Institute, in association with the National Institute of
Standards and Technology and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has
established a Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory in
Maryland. The mission of this facility is to
perform preclinical efficacy and toxicity testing of nanoparticles in
order to accelerate the transition of nanoparticles into clinical
If you’ve developed a nanoparticle for the
treatment of cancer but can’t afford to do the testing required to
demonstrate that your material is effective and safe, you can submit it
to this facility, but be sure to take a number: The testing program to
characterize physical attributes, biological properties, and
compatibility of nanoparticles takes about a year.
Nanofabrication and Measurement
The Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology
(CNST) Nanofab in Maryland
is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The
mission of the CNST is to solve nanoscale measurement problems that
hamper the progress of nanotechnology research.
These folks charge an hourly fee. If your research
is non-proprietary and could help to solve a nano measurement problem
that supports the production of nanobased applications you may be in
luck. They may offer discounted fees or waive fees entirely.
For more information on nanotechnology research
labs and links to the labs mentioned here, go to my
Research Lab Web page.