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The Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory (NCFL) is supported and managed by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS). The NCFL offers advanced instruments to support nano-enabled research, training, workforce development, education and outreach, and economic development. NCFL Instrument Managers supervise the instruments, provide expertise and training, and guide users as they apply NCFL tools to answer critical questions about materials, the environment, biological systems, and beyond. 

Complete 3 steps to initiate work at the NCFL. 

  1. Obtain a PO
  2. Submit a Work Order
  3. Create a FOM account

Step 1. Obtain a PO

You will need an active Purchase Order (PO) to initiate work at the NCFL. If you need help obtaining a PO, contact the NCFL Business Manager for assistance. 

PO Tips:

  1.  A new PO is required for each calendar month.
  2. Consult the current NCFL Instrument Rates (see tab below) to estimate the value of your PO.
  3. Estimate a higher PO than needed. You will only be charged for work performed.
  4. Plan ahead. It takes 12 hours for an approved PO to become active.        

Step 2. Submit a Work Order

Once you have a valid PO, complete the NCFL Work Request Form. Contact the NCFL Business Manager or an NCFL Instrument Manager if you have questions about the form.  

Step 3. Create an NCFL FOM Account

The NCFL uses the Facility Online Manager (FOM) system to manage instruments and billing. Users must have an active FOM account to schedule time on NCFL instruments. 

Use the FOM Quick Start Guide to register, add an active PO to FOM, and start using the NCFL for analysis and training. For projects requiring multiple POs, add a month and year to the “research description name” (e.g., 2022-09 Bee Study) to avoid confusion.

A complete FOM user manual is available online

For infrequent analysis, it is more time and cost effective to have samples analyzed by an NCFL Instrument Manager. Contact the NCFL Instrument Manager directly to discuss your specific needs and to schedule sample analysis.

For more frequent analysis of larger numbers of samples, you may prefer to learn to operate NCFL instruments independently.

Prior to using an instrument on your own, you must train with an NCFL Instrument Manager. Training sessions will cover instrument operation and safety procedures as well as techniques for obtaining useful information. Each instrument requires a different number of training sessions dependent on your data requirements. 

Training sessions are scheduled by appointment and include charges for instrument and staff time, so be sure to refer to current NCFL Instrument Rates. The total time required to demonstrate competence on an instrument is determined by the supervising NCFL Instrument Manager.

Instructions for signing up for training are available in the FOM Quick Start Guide.

Training is best suited for users who anticipate spending many hours mastering a particular analytical technique. In many cases it is more time and cost effective to have samples analyzed by an NCFL Instrument Manager.

Last updated: 05/2024

Instrument VT
(per hr)
Academic, Non-profit
(per hr)
(per hr)
Technical Assistance
and Training*
$57 $91 $91
Technical assistance and training is an hourly rate for NCFL staff time; it is added to the instrument rates below while NCFL staff personnel are training users or operating the instruments.
FE-SEM $40 $64 $91
E-SEM $40 $64 $91
SEM (JEOL IT500) $40 $64 $91
FIB $45 $72 $102
TEM, EM 420 $28 $45 $68
TEM, JEOL 2100 $51 $82 $113
XPS $25 $40 $95
XPS surface survey 1
(per sample)
$23 $37 $90
AFM, Multimode $24 $38 $58
3D Optical Microscope $17 $27 $41
Triboindenter $18 $29 $54
Polishing Papers and Cloths 2 $2 $3 $6
Polishing Sample Prep 3 $2 $3 $6
SEM Sample Prep 4 $17 $27 $41
TEM Sample Prep 5 $17 $27 $41
Cryo-Ultra Microtome $19 $30 $54
Raman-AFM $18 $29 $60
UV-Vis-NIR $6 $10 $15
DLS $14 $22 $36
BET $11 $18 $29

The NCFL is staffed weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Researchers can request access to specific instruments and labs through an NCFL Instrument Manager. After-hours access is available upon approval by an NCFL Instrument Manager

NCFL users have different data access requirements. For example, some data may require secure transfer protocols. It is each user’s responsibility to discuss their specific data access requirements with the NCFL Instrument Manager supervising their work. For general use applications, the NCFL can offer data sharing through Filezilla FTP.

When publishing results obtained using the NCFL, we kindly ask you to please acknowledge the facility using the statement below. It is also appropriate to consider inclusion of individual staff members either as co-authors or within your acknowledgment statement, dependent, of course, on their contributions to the work: 

This work used shared facilities at the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory, which is funded and managed by Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. Additional support is provided by the Virginia Tech National Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology Infrastructure (NanoEarth), a member of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI), supported by NSF (ECCS 1542100 and ECCS 2025151).

NCFL offers limited 50/50 cost matching support to Virginia Tech personnel for:

  • Instructional purposes and demonstrations.

  • To collect preliminary data for external proposals.

  • To initiate transdisciplinary collaborations.

To request Mini-Grant support, take the following steps:  

Unused Mini-Grant funds expire at the end of each fiscal year.

ictas at the corporate research center

Google Maps Link:

From the Blacksburg Campus: 

  • Take Tech Center Drive toward the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (VTCRC). 

  • Turn right on Kraft Drive. 

  • Turn left at the third entry, where you will see signs for ICTAS and ILSB. 

  • The NCFL is located at the back of the parking lot.

From I-81:

  • Take Exit 118-B off of I-81 and follow signs for Virginia Tech, Blacksburg and U.S. 460 West. 

  • Continue on US 460 West Bypass following signs to Blacksburg (these will be the left lanes).

  • Exit 5A – US 460 West Bypass at signs for US 460 Business East and West to Blacksburg.

  • Exit 5A heading EAST on US 460 Business.

  • Turn left at the end of the exit ramp onto Industrial Park Drive.

  • Go straight at the first stop light.

  • At the second stop light turn right onto Ramble Road.

  • Turn left onto Kraft Drive.

  • Turn right at the ICTAS and ISLB sign and drive to the back of the parking lot. 

  • The NCFL is located at the back of the parking lot.

Blacksburg Transit operates a CRC express route between the CRC and the university’s central campus. This route has multiple stops within walking distance of the NCFL. For more information regarding BT routes and current schedules, visit or call (540) 961-1185. 

Virginia Tech Security sponsors a nighttime safety escort service known as Safe Ride. Safe Ride operates from dusk until dawn and provides transportation or a walking escort to all persons. For an escort, call (540) 231-SAFE (7233).

NCFL Physical Location
1991 Kraft Dr, CRC bldg 23 ICTAS 
N37 12.141 W080 24.397 or 37.20235 -80.406617

Mailing Address
Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory 
Virginia Tech, Mail Stop 0905
1991 Kraft Drive 
Blacksburg, VA 24061