As operating costs for all academic nanofabrication facilities continue to increase, research groups are finding it more difficult, and in some cases impossible, to fund their efforts. Adding to this difficulty, funding agencies are imposing more stringent funding guidelines as well as significantly increasing the tangible deliverables they demand for initial or continued funding. Furthermore, some academic institutions are cutting back on their direct and indirect subsidies of these efforts. Lastly, the costs to fund students, even before they enter the lab, have risen dramatically over the past several decades. Thus, it is critical that each facility provide not only a competitive recharge model but an explicit justification of recharge rates to enhance the confidence of researchers that they are competitive with their peer institutions. Additionally, a well-defined recharge model will enable researchers and their financial administrators to determine how best to proceed with their proposed research objectives and create an accurate estimate of the research costs. Only then can a researcher confidently make bold proposals that they believe will allow them to succeed scientifically and financially in this highly competitive environment.
The reported data illustrate that integrated annual usage costs across the study groups are similar under vastly different fee structures if the subsidy of each site is factored in. There exists a significant range of cost differentials between sites depending on what a research group is working on, the subsidy level of the site, and what emphasis the site's model places on how to distribute the subsidy. We believe that the data further illustrate that the operational costs of each site and the educational experience of users can be significantly affected by the individual site's unique cost model. Lastly, we postulate that regarding resource management between the adviser and student lead to significant operational efficiencies that are critical to controlling costs and maintaining a world-class facility while providing the optimum opportunity for an experiential education for a significantly increased group of students.