The vision of the CNST is “to be recognized for providing ready access to unexcelled nanoscale measurement and fabrication facilities and as a world leader in each of our measurement science research areas.”9 The CNST has, overall, made dramatic strides toward achieving this vision since the previous review, as exemplified by specific details provided in Chapters 3 and 4.
The NanoFab has progressed impressively and is providing outstanding service with unparalleled capabilities to a broad range of users. Anecdotal inputs from users indicate that users are highly satisfied with their experience.
The CNST is a world leader in some of its areas of emphasis, as discussed in the more detailed reviews of the four groups in Chapters 3 and 4. The focus areas that are well established, especially those whose genesis predates the formation of the CNST, are among the best in the world. There are many unique capabilities throughout the CNST, and CNST staff have extensive collaborations with scientists, engineers, and companies from the United States and around the world. Although the center’s staffing is largely complete, 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. As reported to the panel, the number of users is impressively high. Although the center’s method of counting users is different from that used by other laboratories, the approach seems to take into consideration measurement against outcomes that are important to the key stakeholders (for example, NIST leadership and the Department of Commerce). There has been growth in the user base in all sectors since the previous review; industrial users accounted for the largest percentage growth, consistent with the NIST/CNST mission. Given NIST’s mission to increase U.S. competitiveness, the CNST should continue to increase its focus on industry as its key customer. Specific focus should be on the industrial segment that requires state-of-the-art nanofabrication capability and access to outstanding scientific staff. The users represent a broad geographic distribution. Even greater demand from across the country should be possible with enhanced communication about the CNST capabilities relative to those available elsewhere.
For many of the programs presented by the CNST to the panel for review, the staff, the projects, and the facilities are outstanding and in several instances unique. The various parts of the CNST are not uniformly mature, although the gap between mature programs and the newer ones has closed significantly since the previous review.
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. The breadth of scientific knowledge and the overall level of enthusiasm of the staff throughout the CNST are impressive. 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.
9 Robert J. Celotta, CNST, “Overview of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology,” presentation to the panel, Gaithersburg, Maryland, March 7, 2011.