In a constantly changing world, robust national infrastructures are essential to enable rapid responses to new challenges. More than 530 researchers and companies have used NorFab in 2021. Some of our users have developed and upscaled the production of the nanoparticles needed for COVID-19 PCR tests, when they saw that global demand for these would become a bottleneck in fighting the pandemic. Others develop novel, energy efficient UV-LEDs that can be used in desinfection, build chips to map enzymes in nature for potential medical and industrial applications, or have founded start-up companies developing novel ultracapacitors for improved energy storage. NorFab is also central in the development and production of elements for ultrasound transducors for medical use, the pressure sensors used in the worlds first approved total artificial heart, 3D radiation sensors for use by CERN and micro-mirrors which are being used to develop systems for 3D imaging in a project with the European Space Agency (ESA), to name a few.
NorFab provides access to state-of-the-art laboratories for Norwegian researchers, independent of their academic, institute or company affiliation. The laboratories include the three academic nodes NTNU NanoLab in Trondheim, SINTEF MiNaLab and UiO MiNaLab in Oslo, and the University of South-Eastern Norway MST-Lab located between Tønsberg and Horten. NorFab provides national access to an infrastructure that contains generic and state-of-the-art equipment applicable for micro- and nanotechnology. All partners have a complementary profile and are committed to a national coordination on investments and further development of the infrastructure. Since inception in 2010 NorFab has already addressed a broad spectrum of users ranging from academic groups focusing on fundamental research and education, to innovative companies with the need for a small scale production facility. NorFab covers all thematic areas described in the National Strategy for Nanotechnology, and the aim of the current project is to continue expanding the user community and to further enhance micro- and nanofabrication competence through process documentation and sharing. The vision of NorFab is to be a robust and competent consortium, supporting and enabling research and innovation for the emerging micro- and nanosystems industry in Norway. The NorFab project therefore aims to maintain a competitive infrastructure for development and pilot fabrication. In order to fulfill this vision, the infrastructure must be maintained at top international level, also in the coming years. This requires continuous upgrades of the equipment and the associated competence. This project applies for a continuation of the funding for a new 4 year period (2020-23) including two years of investments. In 2022 two additional years of investment funding were awarded under the NorFab IIIB proposal, bringing the total project volume to 495 MNOK whereof 130 MNOK are funded by the Research Council of Norway.
The Norwegian Infrastructure for Micro- and Nanofabrication (NorFab) has been established since 2010 as a partnership between The Norwegian Technical University, The University of Oslo, The University of South-Eastern Norway and the research institute SINTEF. NorFab´s vision is to be a robust and competent backbone for research and innovation based on Micro- and Nanotechnology (MNT) in Norway.
As one of the first national research infrastructures (RI) in Norway NorFab has been a pioneer for further development of the national infrastructure concept in Norway. In the last 8 years NorFab has established a successful management model to run the distributed national infrastructure, implemented the RI resource model, implemented a common Laboratory Information Management System at the university labs, developed training courses and a price policy, established the Nordic Nanotechnology Network with associated expert groups and actively promoted MNT research in Norway and Europe.
All partners have a complementary profile and are committed to a national coordination on investments and further development of the infrastructure. NorFab has successfully invested 200 MNOK with financial support of RCN and own contribution (82 MNOK) to build the state-of-the-art infrastructure and promote high quality research and innovation facilities for start-ups and established industry. This shows the strategic importance of the NorFab infrastructure for all the involved partner institutions.
NorFab´s strategy has proven to be successful as the number of users and user hours have doubled since 2010. NorFab III is an application for a third project period (2020-2023), requesting funding for additional strategically needed state of the art investments (with significant contribution from all host institutions) to sustain and develop the activity, to upgrade ageing infrastructure to secure safe and reliable operation for the next 2 years and for operational support for the next 4 years.