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About the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology


The NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) supports the U.S. nanotechnology enterprise from discovery to production by providing industry, academia, NIST, and other government agencies with access to world-class nanoscale measurement and fabrication methods and technology.

The CNST's shared-use NanoFab gives researchers economical access to and training on a commercial state-of-the-art tool set required for cutting-edge nanotechnology development. The simple application process is designed to get projects started in a few weeks.

Looking beyond the current commercial state of the art, the CNST's NanoLab offers opportunities for researchers to collaborate on creating and using the next generation of nanoscale measurement instruments and methods.

As the Department of Commerce nanocenter, the CNST provides:

  • A unique facility offering access to the instrumentation, methods, and technical expertise required to make and measure components at the nanometer scale.



  • A world-class, 60,000 square foot (5600 m2) shared resource for nanofabrication and measurement — with over 19,000 square feet (1,800 m2) of cleanroom laboratory space.


  • A hub linking the international nanotechnology community to the comprehensive related measurement expertise throughout NIST.


Mission and Impact

The CNST was established in May of 2007 as a unique national facility to accelerate innovation in nanotechnology-based commerce. Its mission is to safely and reliably operate a national, shared resource for nanoscale fabrication and measurement and develop innovative nanoscale measurement and fabrication capabilities to support researchers from industry, academia, NIST, and other government agencies in nanoscale technology from discovery to production. The Center, located in NIST’s Advanced Measurement Laboratory Complex on the Gaithersburg, MD campus, disseminates new nanoscale measurement methods by incorporating them into facility operations, collaborating and partnering with others, and providing international leadership in nanotechnology.

The CNST mission is guided by an understanding that rapid commercial development of nanotechnology—in particular, the speed with which industry can bring a specific new nanotechnology from discovery to production—depends critically on the availability and efficacy of applicable metrology tools and processes at each stage of the transition. Developing these tools and processes will have an immediate and significant impact on the commercial viability of nanotechnologies in a diverse array of fields, such as electronics, computation, information storage, medical diagnostics and therapeutics, and national security and defense.


The NanoFab

The NanoFab provides researchers rapid access to a comprehensive suite of tools and processes for nanoscale fabrication and measurement. This world-class shared resource provides researchers with a unique combination of a simple application process, extensive tool and process development, hands-on training, and access to NIST-wide expertise in nanoscience and nanotechnology.

The NanoFab features a large, dedicated cleanroom, with all the tools operated within an 8,000 square foot (750 m2) class 100 space, or in adjacent laboratories that have superior air quality along with vibration, temperature, and humidity control. Over 80 major tools are available for electron beam lithography, photolithography, nano–imprint lithography, laser writing and mask generation, field emission scanning electron microscopy, metal deposition, plasma etching, chemical vapor deposition, atomic layer deposition, and silicon micro/nano-machining. The NanoFab is accessible through a straightforward application process designed to get projects started in a few weeks. It is open from 7 am to midnight, Monday through Friday. See the NanoFab web page and contact the NanoFab Manager for detailed guidance on NanoFab access policies, procedures, and costs.

A comprehensive list of the NanoFab equipment can be found on the NanoFab Equipment page. Of particular note are the electron beam lithography tools, which include two JEOL 6300-FS direct write electron beam lithography systems that offer high resolution exposure capability and accommodate batch handling of substrates, a Heidelberg laser pattern generator, an ASML PAS 5500/275D high throughput i-line stepper with a fully automated wafer handling system, and a Nanonex nano-imprint system. The NanoFab’s new 4-Wave Sputtering Cluster System uses ion beam deposition or biased target deposition to provide dense thin films at room temperature. Other important capabilities are enabled by two FEI Helios 650 dual-beam microscopes, each of which combines a monochromated field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM) with an advanced focused ion beam (FIB) column for fast, precise nanomachining and nanoscale structural characterization.

The NanoLab: Next Generation Measurement Research

The NanoLab, CNST’s next generation measurement research, is agile and highly collaborative by design, with significant contributions from a rotating cadre of postdoctoral researchers and collaborative projects with NIST scientists and others from across the US and abroad. The measurement research staff members are organized into three Groups:




The CNST is currently giving priority to the following three research areas:

  • Future Electronics. In support of continued growth in the electronics industry beyond complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology, the CNST is developing new methods to create and characterize devices, architectures, and interconnects for graphene, nanophotonic, nanoplasmonic, spintronic, and other future electronics.


  • Nanofabrication and Nanomanufacturing. The Center is advancing the state of the art in nanomanufacturing by developing measurement and fabrication tools for both lithographic (“top-down”) and directed assembly (“bottom-up”) approaches.


  • Energy Storage, Transport, and Conversion. This research is focused on creating new methods for elucidating light-matter interaction, charge and energy transfer processes, catalytic activity, and interfacial structure in energy-related devices.


The Center's Project Leaders address these priority areas collaboratively by applying a broad range of expertise, including:


  • Atomic-scale Characterization and Manipulation

  • Electro-fluidic Control of Nanoparticles

  • Environmental Transmission Electron Microscopy

  • Laser-atom Manipulation

  • Nanofabrication

  • Nanomagnetic Dynamics

  • Nanomagnetic Imaging

  • Nanomaterials Energy Storage and Conversion

  • Nanophotonics

  • Nanoplasmonics

  • Nanoscale Electronic and Ionic Transport


  • Nanomanufacturing

  • Optical Micro/Nanoelectromechanical Systems

  • Theory, Modeling, and Simulation of Nanostructures

  • Photovoltaics


Disclaimer: Certain commercial equipment, and software, are identified in this documentation to describe the subject adequately. Such identification does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, nor does it imply that the equipment identified is necessarily the best available for the purpose.

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Center for Nanoscale Science
and Technology (CNST)

Robert Celotta, Director

(301) 975-8001 Telephone
(301) 975-8026 Facsimile

NIST, 100 Bureau Drive M/S 6200
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-6200