Kickstarter Program

In order to further our mission to serve as a hub of cutting-edge nanotechnology innovation and education, the RTNN has established a means to allow members of the nanotechnology and greater scientific communities, who would otherwise not have the financial resources, to use RTNN facilities.

Several recent reports describe how the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected and continues to affect academic research particularly for specific groups (e.g., women, international students, early career scientists). In response to this crisis, the RTNN is expanding its Kickstarter eligibility criteria to include researchers that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Spring Priority Deadline: April 12, 2024. If travel to the facility is prohibitive, there is a possibility to receive travel support where appropriate. Applications received after the Priority Deadline will be considered on a rolling basis. Questions regarding eligibility should be directed to

Click for application instructions and form.

Competitive proposals for this program should be: (1) limited in scope and (2) involve either hands-on science education, cutting-edge research, or high-risk, high-reward R&D activity with the potential to facilitate disruptive technologies.  The RTNN encourages applications from high school and community college science and engineering students and educators, non-traditional users (those from disciplines that have not historically used NNCI programs, including Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Textile Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Agriculture, Soil Science, Forest Biomaterials, and Plant & Microbial Biology), users from underrepresented groups (as defined by NSF), academic users who are at a non-Research-1 university and may have limited access to facilities and/or research funding, industrial users who for some reason do not have funds or have start-up projects with highly innovative potential, and researchers who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For proposals involving research and development activities, the primary investigator must be a first time user of this RTNN special program.  Primary investigators are limited to a single application per cycle. Co-investigators are unlimited per cycle.

Examples of relevant research and development activities include:

  • Preliminary data collection, prototyping, or proof-of-principle studies with prospects of leading to future outside funding or investment.
  • Activity that expands the scope of the applicant’s existing research programs.
  • Specialized characterization or fabrication not currently funded within the scope of the applicant’s existing programs.

Examples of relevant educational programming include:

  • Individual or group class projects that utilize RTNN capabilities.
  • Lesson plan development featuring examples from experiments run at RTNN.
  • Field trip experiences.

Proposals should follow guidelines outlined in the application materials. Projects will be supported based upon the quality of the proposal, a proven need for funding assistance, the impact that the RTNN will have on the project, and the extent to which the project aligns with RTNN’s mission.  Selected projects will also balance support across the Network’s various facilities. Support is provided by the RTNN for facility access fees and associated materials and supplies only.

Proposals will provide facility access valued at a maximum of $1,000 in user fees and materials expenses for a maximum six-month period from the selection date. Current user fee rates can be provided upon request to

Please note that projects affiliated primarily with the three RTNN institutions are ineligible for this program.