INSPIRE – Integrated NanoScience Platfrom for Ireland

The INSPIRE platform was initially established in 2007 under the HEA‘s PRTLI Cycle 4 funding scheme, with the aim of creating a coherent national infrastructure for nanoscience research, and providing state-of-the-art, shared access facilities throughout the country. Under the subsequent PRTLI Cycle 5 funding, INSPIRE built upon this infrastructure to establish a structured PhD programme, providing high-quality graduate training in fulfilment of the INSPIRE vision to develop a national graduate education programme.


Increasingly, information and communication technologies and bionanosciences rely on multi-disciplinary training across a range of platform technologies. In response, a structured graduate education programme has been implemented introducing fundamental nanoscience, complemented by modules in electronics, photonics, and nanobioscience. A significant component of the structured programme encourages the development of business, innovation and entrepreneurship skills for engineering and science students, while maintaining a focus on scientific and technical excellence to address goals expressed in “Building Ireland’s Smart Economy”.

Foundation modules and topical courses have been developed by experts in nanoelectronics, nanophotonics and biotechnology and shared between partner institutes. Video conference and online delivery of modules, national workshops and joint PhD projects have been provided to establish a single community of educators, researchers and students, with academic exchanges and industry placements fostered by INSPIRE. We also seek to develop the framework to enable formal accreditation and exchange of credits.

INSPIRE modules are offered nationally from our partner institutes via a number of delivery methods. Some are block-delivered on site, some are available online and others can be attended in person at the home institute while also being delivered online to partner institutes via live video streaming.

INSPIRE Objectives

  • A single broad based but coherent graduate education programme in nanosciences
  • Single point of entry into nanosciences graduate research in Ireland
  • Dovetailing with Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) guidelines on fourth level graduate education and training in Ireland
  • Provision of top tier nanoscience infrastructure from PRTLI Phase 4 to underpin graduate research training and projects in Phase 5 and beyond
  • Internationally recognised Irish graduate research programme in nanosciences
  • Stronger leverage into apposite international schemes such as EU FP7 Initial Training Networks and for future framework programmes
  • Capacity to expand further to encompass new sub-domains of nanosciences
  • Strengthening capacity to win significant further funding (national and international) to sustain research training and associated activities

INSPIRE Partners


Tyndall National Institute


Cork Institute of Technology


Dublin City University


Dublin Institute of Technology


National University of Ireland, Galway


University of Limerick


University College Dublin


Trinity College Dublin


In Cycle 4 of the HEA’s PRTLI funding, INSPIRE received a total of €31.6 million, of which €1.82 million was allocated to CIT. The consortium of 10 Irish institutions aimed to establish a coherent national infrastructure for nanoscience research, providing state-of-the-art facilities throughout the country, with shared access to these facilities for all researchers. Research collaborations were organised across three strands: Nanophotonics, Nanoelectronics and Bionanoscience.

The INSPIRE project invested €20m in state-of-the-art equipment for nanoscience research. One of the key aims of the project was to provide open access to this equipment for both INSPIRE members and the general research community. Several key items of CAPPA’s equipment were funded by INSPIRE, including much of the Time-Resolved Photoluminescence setup and the Pump-Probe Spectroscopy setup. Additionally, other items available for access in other institutes include;

  • Advanced microscopy, including TEM, FE-SEM, AFM
  • Focused Ion Beam (FIB) processing
  • Laser-based processing, including femtosecond nanostructuring, pulsed laser deposition, and laser lithography & nanoprinting
  • Clean room facilities
  • Dedicated fabrication and photonics training laboratories
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