About the LNSM project
The Laboratory of Nanostructures and Nanomaterials (LNSM) is a large research infrastructure. It means that it is a unique research facility, including its acquisition and related investment costs and the costs of ensuring its activities that are essential for comprehensive research and development with heavy financial and technological demands and which is approved by the Government of the Czech Republic and established by one research organisation for the use of other research organisations.
CzechNanoLab and EuroNanoLab
From January 2020 LNSM cooperates with CEITEC Nano on a Czech level as a distributed large infrastructure called CzechNanoLab to offer a wider range of services for the researchers. CzechNanoLab offers unique services and expertise in the Czech Republic that are used by a number of educational institutions, research organisations and high-tech companies. New materials and nanostructures developed in CzechNanoLab laboratories can lead, for example, to the development of faster and more economical recording media or to a timelier diagnosis of diseases. Unique within Central Europe, the open access to CzechNanoLab facilities enables researchers to use most of the technology independently in a so-called self-service regime. Thanks to these services, the exchange of know-how between CzechNanoLab users and the staff is developing, allowing research groups to gain a high level of expertise. Another positive impact of CzechNanoLab is its contribution to the development of high added-value products in cooperation with high-tech companies.
On a European level will be CzechNanoLab part of a distributed pan-European large research infrastructure for nanofabrication called EuroNanoLab.
LNSM was founded by the Institute of Physics, the largest research institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, in 2008 by connecting laboratories with unique tools and techniques related to the synthesis, deposition and analysis of thin-film materials and nanostructures. The two connected parts were the following:
The Center for Preparation and Analysis of Semiconductor Nanostructures, which enables the preparation of atomic resolution semiconductor layers and microchips based on these layers with electronic elements of only a few tens of nanometers. The equipment of this center represents a comprehensive system for experimental study of a number of quantum-relativistic phenomena in physics of solids, nanostructures and their boundaries, as well as their use in microelectronic devices with dimensions less than 100 nm.
The Center of Bulk Metal Nanomaterials, which is focused on the technology of preparation of materials with ultrafine-grained and nanocrystalline structure, their characterization and the study of significant physical and chemical properties. The equipment of the center includes a state-of-the-art system of devices for characterization of structures and failures in solids (eg. dislocations, grain boundaries) with high resolution and preparation of materials by means of intensive plastic deformation.
LNSM offers services and expertise, which are used by numerous educational and research organizations, as well as companies contributing to the present and future high-tech industry. The uniqueness of LNSM lies in the synergy of technology, complementary microscopic characterization methods and many years of experience.
LNSM was very positively accepted by the relevant scientific community and evaluated as a useful, efficient and successful infrastructure, and was approved as part of the Roadmap of Large Infrastructures of the Czech Republic by a Government Decree No. 207 of 15 March 2010.
Equipment and services
LNSM includes extensive equipment and "know-how" for the research of wide range of inorganic nanomaterials (semiconductors, metals and ceramics) and nanostructures (particles, wires, interfaces, monolayers, thin films, nanostructured bulks), and primarily prepares semiconductor materials, spintronic materials and nanostructures for use in microelectronics, nanoelectronics and spintronics, photovoltaics, photonics and medicine.
LNSM offers thin film depositions, diamond thin films and nanostructures, carbon-based materials such as nanotubes or graphene and composites, bulk nanocrystalline metal-based alloys and composites and metaloxide nanoparticles. It also provides further patterning and device preparation by optical and electron-beam lithographies and by reactive ion etching, ion milling, contact metal deposition, and auxiliary technologies. Samples can be characterized and analysed by state-of-the-art microscopic techniques.
LNSM has close links to other research infrastructures hosted by the Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic such as the HiLASE and ELI Beamlines. In its activities, LNSM closely cooperates with CEITEC Nano and participates in European and worldwide networks such as IUVSTA (International Union of Vacuum Science and Technologies) or AVS (American Vacuum Society).
The available equipment and experience within LNSM are mainly the result of the Czech government‘s “Nanotechnology for Society” program, which ran from 2006 to 2012. The main objective of the program was to achieve significant progress in the development of research and in the practical application of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials in the Czech society. At the same time, the program aimed to create a platform that would include the AS CR, universities and the Czech industrial sector, which would ensure long-term development of this area of science.
The total value of several deposition systems, microscopes and other scientific instruments included in LNSM reached approximately 280 million CZK (more than 11 million EUR with a substantial part of funding coming from the Academy of Sciences and directly from the Institute of Physics through its fund for the Development of the Investments Assets. The same important part was also support from Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MEYS or MŠMT in Czech) through the infrastructure project LM2011026.
Nowadays, the funding of the operational and development investment costs of the large infrastructures in the Czech Republic is of a multi-source. The operational costs are covered by the MEYS mainly (but not exclusively) from the state budget expenditures on research, experimental development and innovation. It is based on interim evaluation of the infrastructures, which is being conducted in multi-year periods (2017 and 2019, planned for 2021).
The investment costs for further technological development of the facilities are funded within a special call launched as a part of the implementation framework of Operational Program Research, Development and Innovation (OP RDE or OP VVV in Czech) using the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).
Since the beginning of 2016 funding of LNSM is provided by the combination of the MEYS project LM2015087, other national and international grants, institutional support of the Institute of Physics, and contributions from contractual research.
LNSM has users from the whole world from academic and also from the industry area.
Within 2012-2019, there were 43 institutions (universities, research institutes and companies) using LNSM from the Czech Republic and 58 from foreign countries, where large part of them originates from Europe, but the access to the LNSM is sought for also from U.S.A., Japan, Australia, Vietnam and other countries from overseas. The user organizations can be categorized as follows: 45 universities, 28 public research institutions and 28 private or industry users.
From the Czech Republic, the services of the infrastructure have been used by 55 students from 5 universities, out of which 38 were Ph.D. and 14 were Bc or MSc students supervised or co-supervised directly by LNSM members (the rest being student secondments). In total, more than 30 students were employed during the duration of the project directly in the framework of the LNSM. Moreover, the LNSM researchers have supervised term projects, advised students preparing for the thesis selection and supervised high school students within the Open Science project.