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Reinforcement of Regional Microsystems and Nanosystems Centre

Final Report Summary - REGMINA (Reinforcement of regional microsystems and nanosystems centre)

Executive summary:

The goal of the project REGMINA was to reinforce the potentials of the Centre of Microelectronic Technologies and Single Crystals, a division of the Institute of Chemistry, Technology and Metallurgy (ICTM), University of Belgrade. Before the project started the centre has already been the leading Serbian science institution in the fields of microsystems and nanosystems, and REGMINA has successfully helped to establish it as the leading institution and a centre of excellence for the whole western Balkans countries (WBCs). REGMINA was successfully led to its finish, all planned activities were fully completed, all milestones reached and all deliverables submitted. The project was led by the management board (chair Prof. Zoran Djuric, co-chairs Prof. Zoran Jaksic and Prof. Dana Vasiljevic-Radovic and member Prof. Miloljub Smiljanic) with a help of international advisory committee. Duties of the REGMINA secretary were performed by Dr Jelena Buha and Dr Danijela Randjelovic.

The following activities have been successfully accomplished:

- Choice, purchase, installation and exploitation of equipment for upgrading / renewal of the existing lab facilities; this includes multifunctional scanning probe microscopy (SPM), infrared (IR) spectrophotometer, IR microscope, spectrum analyser, wafer bonder and laser writer. All items are fully functional.
- Two-month stays of 10 CMTM researchers at 6 renowned European laboratories (Delft, EPFL, DESY, IMEL, TU Delft), 6 CMTM researchers attended 3 European Union (EU)-organised short courses dedicated to the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), 13 CMTM researchers attended 5 specialised trainings (1 in the Netherlands and 4 in Serbia).
- Visits of 8 distinguished researchers from EU (Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy).
- Visits of representatives of selected manufacturers of scientific equipment.
- Hiring of young researchers; of 6 hired junior researchers 2 gained permanent positions in the centre after the project finished.
- Dissemination of project results: establishment of a dedicated website, organisation of 2 workshops and 2 open days, 6 journal papers, 1 article available at Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) website, 1 article published in International Innovation Journal, participation at 10 international, 1 national conference and 1 international fair.
- 7 joint project applications with partners from EU, 4 FP7 projects, 1 collaborative funded by SNSF and 2 bilateral projects.

Direct results of the REGMINA project include:

- Vastly improved research - from theory, through fabrication, to characterisation. New generations of devices are developed (microelectromechanical system (MEMS) pressure sensors for elevated operating temperatures and overpressure protection up to 2 orders of magnitude nominal, new nanomembrane-based plasmonic structures for chemical sensing, etc).
- REGMINA helped CMTM win a national project with 22 full-time researchers, a bilateral Serbian-Croatian project and ensure funding for building of a 100 m2 class 100 cleanroom facilities.
- Networking established or deepened with over 20 European and Serbian research and development (R&D) institutions.
- Contribution to an increased awareness about MEMS and nanoscience at the national level.
- Helping reduce brain drain (4 young researchers decided to stay in Serbia, 2 in the centre).

Strategically, REGMINA firmly established the centre as WBC leader in the field of MEMS / nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS), helped spread the awareness at the national level both in the industry and academy, and ensured the centre integration into the European Research Area (ERA).

The results of the centre research already find use in national industry plants and in priority areas like environmental protection and remediation (pollutant sensing with transnational importance because of spreading of pollutants across borders) and in homeland defence (ultrasensitive sensors and detectors for trace amounts of dangerous chemicals). The vision of the reinforced centre is that of an even more strongly established regional centre of excellence, seamlessly integrated into ERA, contributing strongly to research in priority areas and improving the quality of everyday life.

Project context and objectives:

Summary description of the project context

The idea of the project REGMINA is to reinforce the Centre of Microelectronic Technologies and Single Crystals (further: the centre), and to boost the centre into a regional centre of excellence in microsystems and nanosystems and sensors. The centre, which is a department of the ICTM within the University of Belgrade, is the only Serbian institution fully dedicated to research in the fields of microsystems, nanosystems and sensors. It is a mission of the centre to contribute to the advancement of everyday life through increased use of microsystems, nanosystems and nanotechnologies. In order to achieve these goals, it was planned to acquire new equipment which complements the existing facilities, to employ young researchers and to enhance the expertise of the existing staff. Mobility and dissemination measures were also envisaged in order to enhance the centre's visibility. All the planned and performed activities within the project REGMINA are aimed towards the development of the research potential of the centre, thus creating an opportunity for full involvement in the ERA. REGMINA project is in conformity with general EU approach, its foreign and development policies, aimed, above other things, at promoting and enhancing research organisations in WBC and other countries in the region within the process of their preparation for accessing EU. In such an environment when the doors of European research are wide open to WBCs, ICTM, Belgrade gets the chance to develop its own research potentials and the opportunity for full involvement into the ERA.

The main project objectives

The most important objectives of the project REGMINA are:

- to retain the leading position of the ICTM-MTM group for microsystems and nanosystems in the western Balkans and promote it to the centre of excellence in the fields of microsystem and nanosystem technologies in the western Balkans;
- the increased participation of the country in the EU Framework Programme (FP) projects and other EU projects;
- the advancement of experimental research facilities of the centre through upgrading and / or renewal of the existing equipment and lab facilities;
- the employment of young researchers;
- the training of researchers and technicians in advanced fields that contribute to the sustainable excellence of the centre;
- the increased mobility of research personnel with the goal of wider exchange of knowledge and awareness about the centre;
- the exchange of knowledge through organisation of open days for representatives of industry and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) potential partners, as well as organisation of workshops for national and international researchers;
- to build and maintain a web site for wider visibility and dissemination of knowledge.

Project results:

The most important objectives of the project REGMINA have been achieved:

- All equipment specified in the project proposal was purchased. This includes multifunctional SPM, IR spectrophotometer, IR microscope, spectrum analyser, wafer bonder and laser writer. Visits of representatives of selected manufacturers of scientific equipment have been organised. The equipment has been carefully selected to properly fit into our existing MEMS-NEMS technological cycles. All items are fully functional.
- Specialisation and training of our associates in the field of MEMS-NEMS technologies was performed in the leading European R&D institutions. 10 CMTM researchers accomplished two-month stays of at 6 renowned European laboratories (Delft, EPFL, DESY, IMEL, TU Delft).
- 6 CMTM researchers attended 3 EU-organised short courses dedicated to FP7, 13 CMTM researchers attended 5 specialised trainings (1 in the Netherlands and 4 in Serbia).
- From the 6 young associates engaged in the project REGMINA, 2 stayed at the centre and they are included in national project to be funded over the next 4 years. This has contributed at some extent to brain drain prevention.
- Dissemination of project results was done through establishment of a dedicated website, organisation of 2 workshops and 2 open days, 6 journal papers, 1 article available at CORDIS website, 1 article published in International Innovation Journal, participation of CMTM researchers at 10 international and 1 national conference and related events held at 8 European countries and one international fair.
- Throughout the REGMINA project visits of distinguished researchers from EU were organised in order to present their scientific interests and possibilities of collaboration. Visits of 8 distinguished researchers from EU (Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy) to our centre have been organised.
- During the REGMINA project, researchers from ICTM-CMTM with partners from Europe submitted in total 7 proposals, out of which 4 for the EU FP7 calls, 1 for the collaborative project funded by Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and 2 bilateral projects with Greece and Croatia.
- Thanks to REGMINA we have made an important step towards entry into the EU scientific community for MEMS and NEMS technologies. At the same time we have opened many more opportunities to use these technologies in our country.
- Thanks to the new equipment and well trained personnel we are now capable of providing scientific services to international and EU research community which increases visibility and impact of ICTM-CMTM, which was one of the main REGMINA objectives.

Thanks to the aforementioned accomplished objectives, REGMINA project succeeded in promoting the centre into a regional centre of excellence in sensor microsystems and nanosystems and into the leading research organisation in that field in the whole Western Balkans. It enabled the centre to become fully integrated into the wider ERA, at the same time ensuring a sustainable growth of its research resources and a wider coverage of topics. An indicator of the recognition of the ICTM-CMTM as a new centre of excellence is the budget of EUR 200 000 approved by the Serbian Ministry for Sciences and Technological Development for the purposes of establishing a cleanroom facility at the ICTM-CMTM. This project begun immediately after the completion of REGMINA and it is expected to be completed in several months. It is fully consistent with the REGMINA objectives and furthers them to a new level.

The request for the extension of the REGMINA project has been officially approved by the Commission on 23 February 2012. The official Letter from European Commission (EC) is available at the archive of the REGMINA project. According to the amendment No1 to the Grant Agreement No. 205533 of the project REGMINA, the revised version of annex 1 dated 27/01/2012 has been approved. As a result the duration of the project was extended from 36 to 46 months.

Potential impact:

The main result of the REGMINA project is the reinforcement of the experimental and research basis of the ICTM-CMTM making it the regional leader and ensuring its integration into ERA. The successfully achieved goals are:

- Acquisition of equipment for modernisation of MEMS-NEMS labs: All equipment is fully functional and already used in research funded by national and other sources.
- Employment of young researchers: 6 new researchers were employed. We have decided to continue collaboration with 2 of these young researchers and they are now permanent members of our team.
- Reinforcement of human research potential: Specialised trainings of our researchers were organised at the renowned European science institutions (DIMES TU, Delft; EPFL Lausanne; IMEL-NCSR 'Demokritos' Athens, etc). A number of experts from EU also visited our centre.
- Dissemination of knowledge: Various courses, workshops and open days were held. An informal national network for nano-science has been established.

Direct results of the REGMINA project include:

- Vastly improved research quality at the CMTM: As an example, a new generation of pressure sensors is now fabricated with four times smaller surface compared to the previously developed ones, while fully retaining high performance level. Also characterisation procedures are brought to a new level. The newly purchased equipment is also used for joint research with other national institutions.
- REGMINA helped CMTM win a national project ('Micro- nanosystems and sensors for electric power and process industry and environmental protection' TR32008 2011-2014, 22 full-time researchers) and an international project 'Structural characterisation of new nanoparticles of doped metal oxides', 2011-2012, Serbia-Croatia. It also helped CMTM to ensure funding for building of a 100 m2 class 100 cleanroom facilities.
- Networking has been established or deepened with several European research institutions, including EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland; IMEL-NCSR Demokritos Athens, Greece, ISAS TU Vienna, Austria; Institut Rudjer Boskovic Zagreb, Croatia, etc.
- Contribution to an increased awareness about MEMS and nanoscience at the national level (currently a new centre for nanotechnologies is being built in Belgrade, based largely on the proposals CMTM submitted to the Serbian Ministry of Science).
- Helping reduce brain drain through the employment of new researchers (4 young researchers decided to stay in the country, 2 in our centre and 2 in SME).

Strategically, REGMINA confirmed the CMTM as the regional leader in the field of MEMS / NEMS sensors, helped dissemination of knowledge and awareness at the national level both in the industry and at various levels of formal academic education, mostly ranging from Bachelor to Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) studies and ensured successful integration of the CMTM into ERA.

The results of the CMTM research already find heavy use in national industry plants (process measurement and control in national power industry and food processing plants), but also in priority areas like environmental protection and remediation (pollutant sensing and monitoring, which has a transnational importance because of spreading of pollutants across borders) and in homeland defence (ultrasensitive sensors and detectors for trace amounts of chemical including toxic and explosive species, biochemical and biological agents). This research also has an impact at the European and world level, since all CMTM results are published in open international literature.

Our vision is that of an even more strongly established regional centre of excellence in the field of microsystem and nanosystem sensors and detectors, seamlessly integrated into ERA, contributing strongly to various facets of research, finding applications in priority areas and in the end improving the quality of everyday life.

List of websites: http://nanosys.ihtm.bg.ac.rs/Regmina

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