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FAQs - External Users

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General Info

  1. How long does the process take to set up an SNSF account?
    • The whole process to establish an SNSF account typically takes 15 business days when documents are submitted in a timely fashion.
  2. What are the fees to use the SNSF facilities?
    • The fees can be found on our rates sheet. In addition to the hourly rates and/or daily charge for our instruments, there is an associated indirect cost (IDC).
  3. Is there a discount for companies that receive grant funding?
    • No, SNSF does not provide a discount for companies that are grant funded. 
  4. If I join SNSF, will I get access to SNF?
    • No, the Stanford Nano Shared Facilities (SNSF) and the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility (SNF) are independent organizations.  Both share similar processes and lab management systems. Please follow respective procedures at both facilities to gain access.
  5. My employer requires an NDA to engage with SNSF. How should I proceed?
    • SNSF, including staff are not permitted to engage in NDAs. If this is a requirement from the external user side, we are not able to engage. All terms and conditions are outlined in the service center agreement. 
  6. I need to make some changes to the agreement.  How should I proceed?
    • SNSF generally doesn't accept changes to the agreement. We recognize that the agreement is written with the intent to protect the major investments that Stanford University has made in building and maintaining these research facilities.  We understand that certain parts of the agreement might not be acceptable to external organizations and might prevent the ability to join SNSF.
    • SNSF recognizes that language might be not be acceptable for certain US government and US higher-education institutions. In some cases we can slightly modify the language around governing laws and indemnification.  If you fall in this category, please email to highlight the relevant paragraphs and suggested alternative.  SNSF will consider these changes as administrative resources permit. As these changes are reviewed outside of SNSF, expect a delay of at least 1-2 months in the account setup process.
  7. How can I get in touch with someone?
    • All external user inquiries should be directed to
    • Technical/instrument specific inquiries should be directed to the technical contact listed on the relevant instrumentation website. 

Financial Account

  1. What is the SNSF retainer and why is it needed?
    • The retainer is an advanced payment that is made by the external organization to SNSF in order to secure future services by SNSF. The retainer will be kept at SNSF until the external account is closed.
    • SNSF uses the retainer to lower the risk from external organizations not meeting their financial obligations from SNSF usage. 
  2. What is the minimum retainer fee required to join SNSF?
  3. I am being asked to increase the retainer. Why is this needed?
    • SNSF usage is billed at the beginning of the month. The bill includes charges for the previous month. By the time our customers see the bill and the bill is due, usage may have already accumulated for another month. While we work with our customers to pay past invoices, our gained experience taught us that we need to protect the University from unpaid balances.
    • SNSF periodically reviews external accounts and might increase the required retainer to cover 3 month of average usage. The amount is generally calculated as the average of the past 6 month of usage.
  4. Pre-payment vs retainer.
    • Older SNSF accounts were established using a pre-payment. In those cases, the initial pre-payment was applied to subsequent usage invoices until the pre-payment was depleted. We no longer support this process but instead require a retainer. The received retainer will not be applied to invoices. Please refer to our intake process for details.
  5. How do I get my retainer back?
    • After all invoices are paid, you can request to close the account and issue a refund on the retainer. The retainer refund is handled by Stanford's central administration and will take about 2-4 weeks to be processed.
  6. Can I request a lower retainer?
    • SNSF requires a minimum retainer. Please refer to our intake process for details.
    • If SNSF established a higher than minimum retainer for your institution but your average fees have decreased significantly from the previous monthly average, you may can request an adjustment. Please email
  7. What address does the blanket PO have to be addressed to?
    • Please refer to the instructions here.
  8. My Company/Institution has an existing account. Can I add another user to the account?
    • Yes. If the account is in good standing, a new user can be added to the account. The new user should start directly at step at 3.1 User: Account Request.
      • Note: We require approval by the account owner. The account owner is indicated at the top of the tracking sheet. Please have the account owner email to request adding the user to the account.
  9. Where can I find my account and user details?
    • Account and user details can be found on the tracking sheet which will be shared with you after the agreement is signed.
  10. What is the deal for account establishment fee and user annual fee?
    • Membership at SNSF entails two separate fees charged to external organizations as detailed on the rates sheet. 
      • External Organization Fee
        • The new account fee is charged when an external organization opens an account with SNSF (agreement, financial account). The fee is only charged when the account is opened and no recurring fees are charged if the account stays active (at least 1 user remains active). The account fee includes processing of one user at no additional cost.
      • User Annual Fee
        • Each user authorized on an external account is subject to an annual fee to maintain member status at SNSF. The fee normally gets added to the January invoice and covers the user until the end of the year. SNSF recommends that external organizations review their authorized users periodically and remove users who no longer need to use SNSF resources. 
  11. Can you help explain my invoice?
    • The following shows an example invoice:
External Invoice
  • Explanation:
    • Line 1-3: Service Center Charges. The Description usually specifies the instrument (Rheometer, TGA, etc.) as well as the user who incurred the charges. The charges are for equipment activity, training activity, administrative services, etc.
    • Line 4-6: Indirect Charges (57.4% for this example). Note that each line of Service Center Charges has a corresponding indirect charge (Line 1/6, Line 2/5, Line 3/4).
    • Date: The date listed is the first date of the month during which activity was billed. If a labmember has multiple activities on an instrument, the invoice will list the sum of all charges. Labmembers have the ability to run their own reports using the Lab Management Software.
  • Sample Invoice for establishment of new external account and add additional members:


  1. My Company/Institution has an existing account. Can I add another user to the account?
    • Yes. If the account is in good standing, a new user can be added to the account. The new user should start directly at step at 3.1 User: Account Request.
      • Note: We require approval by the account owner. The account owner is indicated at the top of the tracking sheet. Please have the account owner email to request adding the user to the account.
  2. What is a SUNet ID and why do I need to create one?
    • SUNet ID is a unique 3-8 character account name that identifies you as a member of the Stanford community.
    • The SUNet ID is needed to access the mandatory online safety training.
    • Please note that our SUNet ID sponsorship only grants you access to the Stanford network resources and does NOT support any email service. Therefore is not a valid email address.
  3. I was just sponsored for my SUNet ID; why doesn’t it work?
    • After creating your SUNetID, it may take up to 24 hours for the SUNet ID login credentials to propagate through the relevant Stanford system to become active.
  4. I had a SUNet ID before. Can I reuse it?
    • Yes, we will re-sponsor the previous SUNet ID when we process the user account.
  5. I had an SNSF Badger account before. Can I reuse it?
    • No, we will create a new account for the new external organization. However, we will transfer prior tool qualifications from the previous SNSF Badger account to the new account. Please email if your qualifications did not transfer correctly. Please note that some lab managers automatically remove qualifications and might require a short refresher training before qualifying again on the tool.
  6. I have an SNSF Badger account: can I use my SNSF Badger account at SNF?
    • No, you will need to open a separate SNF Badger account in addition to your existing SNSF Badger account.
  7. Can I use my building access card to gain access to the SNSF labs as an SNSF external user?
    • Yes, but building and lab access is granted on the card electronically through the technical lab managers in charge of the tools/lab spaces. Please refer to their policies for gaining and requesting access.
  8. Can I use my building access card I received from SNF to access SNSF?
    • Yes, you can use the same building access card you received from SNF. Just give your SNSF lab manager the number located on the front of the card so that they can place the appropriate equipment and building access onto your card. In addition, email your building access card number so that the records can be updated with your account information.
  9. Can I unsubscribe from the NanoUser mailing list while being an SNSF user?
    • All SNSF users are required to be a part of the NanoUser mailing list. The mailing list is used to communicate to our users regarding policy updates, equipment information, etc. If you want to unsubscribe, we will confirm with you that you do want your SNSF user account closed.
  10. Parking and Transportation: Where can I park?
    • We encourage all external users to use public transportation, including free shuttle services that Stanford University offers. Alternatively, please refer to Stanford Transportation for more information on transportation and parking options.
  11. Parking and Transportation: Can I purchase a parking permit?
    • SNSF does not issue parking permits. Visitor parking can be purchased using a mobile app (refer to Stanford Transportation).
    • For frequent visits to campus we offer our external users the option to request sponsorship for access to affiliate parking permits. For details and to submit your request, refer to SNSF Parking Request Form
  12. Parking and Transportation: How is my SUNetID able to help with parking?
    • SNSF does not sponsor external users for a VISITOR parking account with Stanford Transportation. If a SNSF Parking Request Form is submitted, we will sponsor the labmember's SUNetID instead. Labmembers with an active SUNetID will be able to purchase parking permits as an AFFILIATE using their account connected to the SUNetID.