engineers, and companies from the United States and around the world. The staffing is largely complete, although many laboratories, especially in the newer groups such as the Energy Research Group, are still under development. These newer efforts appear to have assembled highly talented teams that have the potential to develop a high-quality effort. These areas are likely to continue to grow and develop over the next few years.
The CNST supports researchers from industry, academia, NIST, and other government agencies. The number of users as reported to the panel is impressively high, and the increasing use by industry users appears consistent with the NIST/CNST mission. Even greater use should be possible with enhanced communication about the CNST capabilities relative to those available elsewhere.
The staff, the projects, and the facilities of many of the programs presented for review by the CNST are outstanding and in several instances unique. All of the work reviewed by the panel is scientifically very good. Much of it is original, innovative, scientifically outstanding, and among the best of its kind. Almost all of the projects are clearly focused on the stated mission of NIST as they seek to develop understanding that will lead to standards and precision measurement at the nanoscale. A fair amount of the research is directed toward developing unique instrumentation.
The substantial budget of the CNST and the self-sufficient “block funding” nature of its allocation without the concomitant expectation of supporting user-defined research in the scientific portion of the CNST organization are increasingly unusual in the U.S. scientific community. This approach enables the CNST staff to concentrate on their scientific endeavors in a way that is all too rare. Staff are able to spend a significant number of years working on extremely high risk, high payoff instrument development, which may lead to demonstration and exploitation of unique capabilities. There are very few, if any, other institutions in the United States where such endeavors are possible, making this capability at the CNST all the more valuable. In such an environment, it is manifest that the leadership of the organization has a particularly significant responsibility to evaluate projects rigorously and to curtail long-standing projects that are not paying off.
With the addition of important theoretical and chemical expertise, the balance of CNST staffing has improved significantly since the panel’s last review in 2009. The theorist in each research group has tended to become “glue” uniting the various efforts within the group.
The reviewed work of the Electron Physics Group, conducted with the use of state-of-the-art equipment, is at the level of the best in the field. The group’s laboratory facilities are state of the art and in many cases unique.
The Nanofabrication Research Group is a highly competent assemblage of scientists that has taken on the additional mission of advancing the state of the art in nanomanufacturing, an area of growing importance. The laboratory facilities available to the group could well be the best in the world. The research programs in this group are of high quality and are aligned with the group’s mission. Some of the laboratories in this group are still under development.
The Energy Research Group is now fully staffed, with a good combination of junior and more senior staff, although many of the laboratories are still under development. The work of this group is the most technologically (rather than scientifically) focused effort of the research groups. The laboratories and equipment that are in place are state of the art in all respects. It is still too early to judge in detail the quality and mission alignment of the Energy Research Group’s research programs.
The NanoFab facility has progressed significantly and is reaching capacity. The equipment and capabilities are probably as modern and complete as those of any similar facility in the United States.