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April 2016

Molecular Foundry Symposium Highlights 10 Years of Achievements

Ten years after the dedication of Berkeley Lab’s nanoscience-focused Molecular Foundry building, which unites seven multidisciplinary facilities for staff and visiting scientists, 250 people turned out on March 24 for a scientific symposium celebrating the Foundry’s progress.

The daylong symposium included talks by Molecular Foundry Director Jeff Neaton, past and present lab directors, and scientists who have used the Molecular Foundry’s expertise and tools. Talk topics included tech startup Magic Leap’s use of the Molecular Foundry for its work in nanophotonics, as well as other user work in nanocrystal probes for biological and medical applications and the use of computer simulations for materials design.

Neaton noted the Molecular Foundry’s “outstanding staff and leading-edge, world-unique instrumentation” that enables “breakthroughs and innovations in all fields of science.”

And former Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos, who is also a Molecular Foundry user and served as its first director, said, “The Foundry is a community, above all.” He said scientific openness and sharing have been its hallmarks since the start. He credited Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, who also spoke at the symposium (pictured), for helping to realize the vision of the Foundry through his efforts in Washington, D.C.

“It brings tears to my eyes to think about what an incredible place this has become,” Alivisatos said, and he challenged the Foundry’s scientific community to work over the next 10 years to use nanotechnology to address scientific challenges in renewable energy and the environment, for example, and in other areas with societal benefits.

Berkeley Lab Director Michael Witherell credited lab founder Ernest Orlando Lawrence for his early approach to team science that is still going strong today at places like the Molecular Foundry.

“It is not just a few pieces of equipment but it is the expertise … a team of researchers working together in an open and connected way to do new things,” Witherell said. “The nation made a big bet on this 10 years ago and I would argue it has gotten a great return on investment on it.” 

For more information, visit the Molecular Foundry's Anniversary Website.