On November 13, Molecular Foundry staff gathered at the UC Berkeley Faculty Club for a full day scientific retreat. The meeting aimed to identify collaborative research opportunities and formulate new initiatives with the goal of expanding the impact of the Foundry's research and the center's ability to facilitate user-driven projects.
The morning session was spent discussing the recently launched Theme Postdoc Program. Intended to better leverage the Foundry's multidisciplinary culture within its four research themes, this initiative supports a team of three postdocs per theme for two years who are tasked with expanding or creating new capabilities that will be of interest to future generations of users. Leaders within the two currently supported projects described their progress and led a discussion on ways to expand the scope and impact of the work. These projects are: Transition Metal Dichalcogenide Hetero-Junction Based Optoelectronic Devices (Functional Interfaces Theme) and Direct Structural Determination of Soft Nanostructures with Structured Electron Probes (Multimodal Nanoscale Imaging Theme). This was followed by a brainstorming session that focused on the two themes - Combinatorial Nanoscience and Single-Digit Nanofabrication and Assembly - that were not awarded projects this year. More information on the themes can be found here.
The afternoon tackled several topics, including opportunities made possible by new investments in direct electron detection and potential ways to expand cryo electron microscopy at the Foundry. Fruitful and budding partnerships across Berkeley Lab were used as case studies for new scientific and operational connections. Enhancements to the user program, particularly within the context of streamlining the training and onboarding processes across the Foundry, were also debated. Finally, time was used to discuss and prioritize new investments in equipment, ranging from upgrades and replacements to expanded or new capabilities.