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1 The Charge to the Panel and the Assessment Process At the request of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Research Council (NRC) has since 1959 annually assembled panels of experts from academia, industry, medicine, and other scientific and engineering environments to assess the quality and effectiveness of the NIST measurements and standards laboratories, of which there are now nine,1 as well as the adequacy of the laboratories’ resources. In 2009, NIST requested that five of its laboratories be assessed: the NIST Center for Neutron Research, the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST), the Information Technology Laboratory, the Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, and the Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory. Each of these was assessed by a separate panel of experts; the findings of the respective panels are summarized in separate reports. This report summarizes the findings of the Panel on Nanoscale Science and Technology. For the fiscal year (FY) 2009 assessment, NIST requested that the panel consider the following criteria as part of its assessment: 1. The technical merit of the current laboratory programs relative to current state-of-the-art programs worldwide; 2. The adequacy of the laboratory budget, facilities, equipment, and human resources, as they affect the quality of the laboratory’s technical programs; and 3. The degree to which the laboratory programs in measurement science and standards achieve their stated objectives and desired impact. The context of this technical assessment is the mission of NIST, which is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve the quality of life. The NIST laboratories conduct research to anticipate future metrology and standards needs, to enable new scientific and technological advances, and to improve and refine existing measurement methods and services. To accomplish the assessment, the NRC assembled a panel of 8 volunteers whose expertise matches that of the work performed by the CNST staff.2 The Panel on Nanoscale Science and Technology held a 2.5-day meeting on February 23-25, 2009, at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The agenda consisted of presentations, tours, demonstrations, and interactive sessions 1 The nine NIST laboratories are the Building and Fire Research Laboratory, the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, the Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, the Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory, the Information Technology Laboratory, the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory, the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory, the NIST Center for Neutron Research, and the Physics Laboratory. 2 See http://cnst.nist.gov/ for more information on CNST programs. Accessed May 1, 2009. 6

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with the CNST leadership and staff. The panel also met in a closed session to deliberate on its findings and to define the contents of this assessment report. The panel’s approach to the assessment relied on the experience, technical knowledge, and expertise of its members, whose backgrounds were carefully matched to the technical areas within which the CNST activities are conducted. The panel reviewed selected projects across the breadth of CNST activities presented by the CNST management and staff. It was not possible to review the CNST programs and projects exhaustively. The examples reviewed by the panel were selected by the CNST. The panel’s goal was to identify and report salient examples of accomplishments and opportunities for further improvement with respect to the following: the technical merit of the CNST work, the impact of the work with respect to achieving the CNST’s own definition of its objectives, and specific elements of the CNST’s resource infrastructure that are intended to support the technical work. The highlighted examples for each CNST group are intended collectively to portray an overall impression of the center, while communicating useful suggestions specific to projects and programs that the panel considered to be of special note within the set of those examined. The assessment is currently scheduled to be repeated biennially, although the review panel recommends more frequent annual reviews of the center during this critical start-up period. While the panel applied a largely qualitative rather than a quantitative approach to the assessment, it is possible that future assessments will be informed by further consideration of various analytical methods that can be applied. The comments in this report are not intended to address each program within the CNST exhaustively. Instead, this report identifies key issues and focuses on representative programs and projects relevant to those issues. Given the necessarily nonexhaustive nature of the review process, the omission of any particular CNST program or project should not be interpreted as a negative reflection on the omitted program or project. The preceding Summary highlights issues that apply broadly to several or all of the groups or to the center as a whole. The following individual chapters present observations specific to the various center groups. Finally, the report presents the overall conclusions of the review. Appendix A contains information about CNST process activities described during the review. Appendix B presents impressions expressed by CNST staff during informal discussions with panel members. 7