12. Jan. 2024

CEITEC Nano laboratories as a key part of the CzechNanoLab national research infrastructure have held the position of a world-class scientific research facility for years thanks to their first-class equipment. Last year, under the leadership of Michal Urbánek, the CzechNanoLab team submitted an application in the OP JAK Research Infrastructures I. grant call, in which the CzechNanoLab+ modernisation project succeeded with a staggering 78 points out of 80, making it the most successful project in this call. The project was approved for funding without budget cuts and received a total of CZK 361 million for equipment modernisation and innovation.

CzechNanoLab is a large research infrastructure for nanoscience and nanotechnology research. Its mission is to support scientists and engineers who have the ambition to push the boundaries of knowledge in various fields of science, from physics to nanoelectronics to nanobiotechnology and neuroscience. The infrastructure also collaborates with dozens of high-tech companies in areas such as electron and light microscopy, semiconductor chips, and the European Space Agency (ESA) space programme. These companies use the cutting-edge equipment available within the CzechNanoLab infrastructure for their own applied research and development. The infrastructure thus uniquely connects basic academic research with practical industrial applications, and provides space where ideas and experiments in basic research provoke activities in the application sector, which in turn provide feedback and inspiration for basic research.

Furthermore, CzechNanoLab is a very important part of the national innovation ecosystem in the priority field of semiconductor chips. Here, as the only workplace of its kind in the Czech Republic, it can provide access to a complete set of instrumentation and know-how necessary for research and development in the field of semiconductor chips to a large number of corporate and academic researchers and students. In order for the CzechNanoLab research infrastructure to be able to provide its users with services at the appropriate level, i.e. to maintain its high scientific and technological level and relevance in the dynamic field of nanoscience and nanotechnology, it must respond flexibly to new trends in the field. As Michal Urbánek, head of CEITEC Nano and coordinator of the entire CzechNanoLab infrastructure, explains, "The development of scientific equipment is constantly moving forward and many of our current instruments are already technically or morally obsolete. Thanks to the CzechNanoLab+ project, we will be able to upgrade our equipment to the highest technological level, which will help us remain among the best European research infrastructures in the field of nanotechnology."

The aim of the CzechNanoLab+ project is to increase the range of services provided by the infrastructure through the introduction of new promising technologies for nanofabrication and characterization technologies that have not been available in the infrastructure so far. The second objective of the modernisation project is the renewal of ageing key equipment. This will allow for an increase in the quality of the services provided, both in terms of yielding better quality data and in terms of meeting the needs of more users more quickly.

The modernisation project started on 1 January 2024 and is to last for 3 years. A total of 15 investment units are planned to be acquired under the project, ranging from deposition apparatus to the most modern types of microscopes and analytical instruments to equipment for 3D printing on a microscopic scale. The project has received the requested support with a budget of 361 million, two thirds of which will go to CEITEC Nano at CEITEC BUT, Brno, and the remaining third to the Laboratory of Nanostructures and Nanomaterials (LNSM) at the Institute of Physics (FZÚ) of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Prague, the second node of the CzechNanoLab research infrastructure.

The call OP JAK – Research Infrastructures I. was organised by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic and the reports of the evaluation committees were published on 29 December 2023. The grant call focused on investment funds.

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