The North Carolina Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network (RTNN)

J.L. Jones
North Carolina State University,
United States

Keywords: nanotechnology network, user facility, nanotechnology


The NSF-funded National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) consists of 16 nodes across the U.S. The RTNN is one of these nodes and is a collaboration among three institutions – North Carolina State University (NC State), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), and Duke University (Duke) – with internationally recognized nanotechnology faculty, facilities, and programs. These three institutions anchor the corners of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park (RTP) region, one of the most productive commercial nanotechnology regions in the US. Collectively, our institutions house four core nanotechnology fabrication and characterization facilities: Analytical Instrumentation Facility (AIF), Shared Materials Instrumentation Facility (SMIF), NC State Nanofabrication Facility (NNF), and Chapel Hill Analytical and Nanofabrication Laboratory (CHANL). The aspirational vision of the RTNN is to identify and respond to emerging nanotechnology infrastructure needs that will enable researchers to address societal grand challenges of the next decade, using our facilities as a focal point for discussion and convergence of academic disciplines, industries, the public and private sector, and individuals. Specifically, RTNN is driven to (1) continue expansion of our external user base, e.g., as represented by increasing numbers of external users and user hours while (2) facilitating the nucleation and growth of new interdisciplinary collaborations. The RTNN offers a variety of programs and activities that cater to industry including and not limited to hands-on training and on-site access, mail-in modes of access, and a kickstarter program to nucleate new use by startup companies. During the last reporting year of the RTNN project, 277 unique external users utilized RTNN facilities for about 9,500 hours of use. Prior to the pandemic, the RTNN was serving over 350 unique external users and nearly 12,000 hours. Most of RTNN’s external industry users work at companies with less than fifty employees.