NAMUR+ is a multidisciplinary, decentralized materials research institution in Estonia jointly owned by the University of Tartu and the Tallinn University of Technology. This centre has the primary goals of providing a world-class research infrastructure for material characterization at the nano- and sub-nanometer scale which will position Estonia as a potential source of high-level knowledge in the field of nanoscale material science and provide an educational platform for nanoscale material science in Estonia.
Estonia is able to punch above its weight when it comes to digital innovation, materials science, electrical engineering and biotechnology. However, for Estonia to be able to compete in other innovative and high-tech sectors, new approaches and collaborations need to be promoted in order to put the existing infrastructure to effective use and to put Estonia on the map in other fields.
The central goal of NAMUR+ is to develop a cutting-edge infrastructure for the fabrication, research and application of nanomaterials, as well as connecting different parts of infrastructure owned by project partners to a common attraction center of nanomaterials and nanosafety. The facility consists of three high-level setups, mainly for the analysis and developemnt of nanoscale materials and technologies.
- A Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (ToF-SIMS) is used for the high precision analysis of molecules and various complicated fractions in nanoscale amounts of substances in their surface layers.
- A High Resolution Scanning Electron Microscope (HR-SEM) enables high resolution imaging of objects and materials down to nanometer resolution.
- An Ultra-High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscope (UHR-TEM) offers the possibility to study the atomic structure of materials with both regular and irregular structures, as well as the direct atomic resolution imaging of atoms, molecules and their systems.
NAMUR+ also oversees the facility and the usage of the infrastructure and equipment, therefore guaranteeing safe park operation and the maintenance of equipment. Technical support is also provided as a service to clients looking to perform experiments, something which is necessary due to the technical complexity of both the equipment and the experiments, this expert support is also provided to clients for the interpretation of the research results. Allocation of the equipment to individual clients is managed by the NAMUR Supervisory Board in cooperation with the Scientific Council, thus ensuring the safety and the best match between equipment and client needs.
A current challenge is the creation of a strong backbone for the long-term implementation of NAMUR+ activities due to its intensive financial and human resource investment requirements. At the same time however, these activities present new opportunities to the universities and companies involved, which in turn promotes more integrated cooperation.
The Results and Benefits
NAMUR+ has secured definite quantitative and qualitative outputs and has received 5 million EUR from the national government to update the infrastructure and purchase new equipment. This facility has already acquired nearly 25 customers and together with the university researchers, the equipment utilization is in the range of 50-75% showcasing high demand when taking into account the very specific purposes of dedicated machinery.