Discovering the Future, Atom by Atom
The six-story, 94,000 square-foot Molecular Foundry building at LBNL overlooks the UC Berkeley campus and, from a distance, the San Francisco Bay. Directly adjacent to the Foundry is the NCEM complex that was established in 1983 to maintain a forefront research center for electron microscopy with state-of-the-art instrumentation and expertise. Merged with the Molecular Foundry in 2014 to take advantage of growing scientific and organizational synergies, NCEM at the Foundry features 10 electron microscopes, many of which are world-leading.
Each of the six floors of the Foundry building, as well as NCEM, is managed as a technically distinct “facility” by world-class scientists equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation, laboratories, and computational resources. Four research themes at the forefront of nanoscience integrate users, staff and techniques across all seven technical facilities, embodying the Foundry’s core capabilities and synergistic activities in synthesis, characterization, fabrication, and theory. They were reinforced through a thorough strategic planning process during the Foundry's merge with NCEM and are regularly reviewed to evaluate their novelty, relevance, productivity, and impact. New capabilities and expertise developed in the context of internal research activities significantly augment the Foundry User Program. The four themes are summarized below. To download the Molecular Foundry's entire Strategic Plan, please use the link below.
- Combinatorial Nanoscience – This theme focuses on the rational design of targeted nanostructured materials. Robotic synthesizers are used to generate large libraries of biological, organic, and inorganic nanostructures, which, in combination with theory and characterization, are used for discovery of new materials with sought-after optical, electronic and thermal properties.
- Functional Nanointerfaces – This theme centers on understanding and design of the physical and chemical properties of hybrid nanomaterials, defined as integrated materials composed of highly contrasting components, such as inorganic nanomaterials, organic supermolecular assemblies, and complex living organisms. This is accomplished through the synthesis of heterostructures and interfaces, the application of first-principles simulations, and the detailed characterization of form and function.
- Multimodal Nanoscale Imaging – This theme develops and applies multiple spectroscopic and imaging technologies – including high-resolution flagship electron microscopies, scanned probe microscopies, and hyperspectral (nano)optical methods and imaging probes – to investigate structural and dynamic nanoscale phenomena in hard and soft nanostructured materials in solid-state, liquid, and vapor environments. This theme takes on the characterization challenges associated with the continued development of novel and increasingly complex hybrid materials.
- Single-Digit Nanofabrication and Assembly – This theme aims to organize and structure material with critical features of dimensions at or below 10 nm, i.e., on the single-digit nanometer and atomic scales, to create nanoscale devices and architectures in inorganic, biological, or hybrid systems. Work in this theme is accomplished by developing protocols to both understand and implement methods of self-assembly and lithography in a variety of systems.
The Molecular Foundry's Strategic Plan is a broad scientific and organizational outline that will serve to guide the Molecular Foundry while enabling us to adapt to the rapidly changing research landscape. It is a living document that has been created in response to the scientific and organizational needs of our users and staff, with input provided by the Foundry’s Scientific Advisory Board and a number of other outside stakeholders that represent the broad community of users. This cycle of feedback remains a central part of the organization. Input from the user community is always welcome. Staff can be contacted directly here.