Leveraging Public Funds in the Private Sector

ESRFWe are always interested in how public funds can help the private sector. Recently, I met with Ennio Capria from the European Synchrotron. He was introducing Nanoelec PAC-G (Platform for Advanced Characterization), to the TechConnect audience in the hope of support commercial applications into the United States. I had an opportunity to interview him at that time.

Susan Neylon – What is the Nanoelec Platform for Advanced Characterization?

Ennio Capria – We are located in Grenoble and have basically three facilities: 1) A synchrotron with the highest brilliance in the word; 2) The most powerful continuous source of neutrons; and 3) A world leading R&D center for applied micro and nanotechnologies. I will mostly focus on the Synchrotron technology because that is my area of expertise.

Susan Neylon – What is a synchrotron?

Ennio Capria – Synchrotron is a device which generates very intense X-Rays that provide a nondestructive method for evaluating the topology, morphology, and structural analysis of a variety of systems. We can measure an atom, bulk material, a device or even a circuit board.

Susan Neylon – What is the advantage over other methods of evaluation?

Ennio Capria – For one, you don’t destroy the sample to get the structural analysis. You also get much better resolution inside the object than with any other x-ray method of analysis available in the laboratory. There is almost no sample preparation.

Susan Neylon – What is your business model?

Ennio Capria – The scale of the operation is impressive. For example, the electron accelerator is the size of a football stadium. Public funds, however, paid for the facilities and equipment.   Our business model is not to capture that return on investment, but to attract industry funds to offset the operational costs. Generally, it cost $450-650 an hour depending on the project.

Susan Neylon – Have you been successful?

Ennio Capria – Most of our business has been in Europe. Some of the projects we have worked on are innovative packaging. We also do a lot in the electronic industry, such as understanding delamination, bonding, the problem of connections, and identification of impurities. Right now, industry is taking up 10-20% of the capacity.

Susan Neylon – What keeps you up at night?

Ennio Capria – Finding applications that can best use the facilities.

Susan Neylon – If one of our readers would like to have more information on your service how can they contact you?

Ennio Capria – Have them contact me at Capria@esrf.eu