Research at Cornell NanoScale Science & Technology Facility - dummies

Research at Cornell NanoScale Science & Technology Facility

By Earl Boysen, Nancy C. Muir, Desiree Dudley, Christine Peterson

Located at Cornell University, the Cornell NanoScale Science & Technology Facility (CNF) is part of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN), which in turn is funded by the National Science Foundation. CNF offers user facilities to those who want to advance nanotechnology.

Both academic and industry researchers can use their instruments, and experts to perform their own experiments. Researchers who want to use the equipment are charged a fee that varies depending on whether the user is from academia or industry.

The main focus of the folks at CNF is to “support a broad range of nanoscale science and technology projects by providing state-of-the-art resources coupled with expert staff support. Research at CNF encompasses physical sciences, engineering, and life sciences, and has a strong inter-disciplinary emphasis.”

Each year, CNF attracts more than 700 users who spend an average of a week or two at their facilities. Their resources are so heavily used that they are open 24 hours a day.

CNF isn’t only a landlord. Of the work undertaken in their facilities, 50 percent is their own. Following are a few areas of research that were included in their report of accomplishments for the 2009–2010 year (a 267-page report):

  • Vertically aligned carbon nanotube membranes for solar hydrogen production: This research holds the potential for creating a solar-powered method of producing hydrogen for applications such as fuel cells, without adding carbon dioxide pollution to our air.

  • Transfer-free fabrication of graphene transistors: Transistors made with graphene can handle much higher frequency signals than transistors made with silicon. This research offers the possibility of providing a way to mass produce transistors and integrated circuits made of graphene.

  • On-chip spectrophotometry for bioanalysis using nanophotonic devices. This research is aimed at developing low-cost, automated diagnostics systems for medical applications.