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The Application Process: Instructions and Guidance

Topic List (click to go to topic):

  • Review Process:  A description of how NanoFab project applications are reviewed.

Overview of Application and Review Process

The CNST NanoFab is a national user facility open to researchers from both inside and outside NIST, including those from industry, academia, and other government agencies.  In order to operate safely and efficiently, we have established formal policies and procedures by which researchers can use the NanoFab.  As part of the application process, we require information on, among other things, the overall goal of the research, what the NanoFab project will entail, the names and affiliations of those who will participate in the project, and how the research might support the NIST and CNST missions.  We must also insure that all work will be performed safely and that all users properly trained to use the required tools, so information is required on the materials and processes to be used in the NanoFab.  Finally, because we are frequently called upon to demonstrate the value of the research the CNST supports through the NanoFab, we must track the outcomes of all NanoFab projects, so information is requested about outputs (publications, patents, etc.) that have resulted from an applicant’s prior NanoFab projects.

Note that the same application and review process applies to all researchers, from both inside and outside of NIST, including the CNST’s own NanoLab staff.  

The application process for a NanoFab project is similar to that used by other national user facilities.  We have designed the procedures with a goal of minimizing the volume of information requested and the associated paperwork so that the project can get started as quickly as possible while still permitting the CNST to effectively evaluate its technical feasibility and merit.

The process begins with submission of a completed CNST NanoFab Project Application via email to cnstufc@nist.gov.  Applicants should only use the most recent version of the application form.  The application includes five sections (basic instructions for completing each section are provided with the application form):
  1. Project Information – some essential information, including whether the project will be proprietary and whether reduced rates are requested;
  2. Participant Information – names and affiliations of the applicant, Principle Investigator (if not the applicant), and collaborators on the project;
  3. Technical Description – why, what, and how the project will be done;
  4. NanoFab Justification – brief explanations, when appropriate, of how the project is expected to advance the NIST and CNST missions;
  5. Reporting and Acknowledgement Requirements – this page must be signed by the Principal Investigator as a condition of NanoFab use.
Note that Section B on the application, Participant Information, collects one of the most important types of information we need as a national, shared-use facility supporting the development of nanotechnology: the identities and affiliations of the researchers who directly benefit from the resources we provide in the NanoFab, both researchers who come on site and use the facility and their collaborators who directly benefit from that use.  NIST refers to NanoFab users and their collaborators on a project collectively as “Research Participants”.  A rule of thumb in providing this list is to include anyone that would be listed as a coauthor of any publication, presentation, patent application, etc., associated with the project (even those who themselves will not perform work at NIST).  We make it as easy as possible to provide this list, requesting only the full name, department, and institution of each participant, and only request additional information if it is unavailable from public sources (e.g., the internet). 

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