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  • Photo Credit: SENIC (Georgia Tech)

About the NNCI

What is the NNCI?

One of the pillars of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), created in 2000 to coordinate the nanoscale research and development activity of more than 20 federal agencies, is the importance of user facilities and networks as part of a robust infrastructure and toolset. Because nanoscale science and engineering often requires expensive equipment and specialized expertise, these facilities tend to be located at research-intensive universities and national laboratories. To help alleviate the lack of these resources in both smaller academic institutions, as well as in the small to medium size commercial sector, the National Science Foundation has supported a network of user facilities for the past forty years. Initially, the National Nanotechnology Facility at Cornell (1977-1993), followed by the National Nanotechnology Users Network (NNUN, 1993-2003), and then the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN, 2004-2015) provided specialized nanotechnology resources to all researchers who needed them. The National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI), established in 2015, is the latest version of this national resource.

The NNCI site awards are the culmination of a competition conducted by NSF, under Program Solicitation NSF 15-519, which was generated as a result of input from the science and engineering community. Over 50 proposals from potential NNCI sites were submitted, resulting in 16 awards. The total level of funding for NNCI sites and the NNCI Coordinating Office is approximately $16 million annually. The initial cooperative agreements were for a period of 5 years, and the program was renewed for an additional 5 years in 2020 with a total budget of $84 million.

Research undertaken within NNCI facilities is incredibly broad, with applications in electronics, materials, biomedicine, energy, geosciences, environmental sciences, consumer products, and many more. The toolsets of sites are designed to accommodate explorations that span the continuum from materials and processes through devices and systems. Micro/nano fabrication, conducted in cleanroom environments, as well as extensive characterization capabilities will provide resources for both top-down and bottom-up approaches to nanoscale science and engineering.

All of the NNCI facilities (many sites have partners and multiple locations) are open for access by students and professionals from around the country and globally. The facilities within NNCI are research and development facilities, supporting both academic research and product and process development.  NNCI sites have experience supporting technology innovation and commercialization, for start-ups as well as larger and more established companies. 

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