It’s been 13 years now since the Molecular Foundry opened its doors. In that time, thousands of users from around the world have benefitted from collaborations with our outstanding staff and access to our diverse expertise and instrumentation. To better showcase what the Foundry offers, we have recently launched a re-designed Foundry website that we hope will provide clearer information about the expertise of our staff, the instrumentation we offer, and the world-class science that is the produced here.
In my last Director’s letter, I mentioned that Foundry is preparing for our DOE Triennial Review at the end of June, where we will discuss our past performance and present our plan for the future to our sponsor. Some of those future plans will most certainly involve work related to the initiatives that were mentioned in the last newsletter (QIS, ALS-U, GECO, and Beyond Moore’s Law), but also will look at ways that the Foundry has been renewing our instrumentation and capabilities to keep us at the cutting edge of nanoscience, through strategic capital investments in new equipment each year from our annual operating funds, as well as through additional opportunities and strategic partnerships.
Over the past several months, there’s been a new development I’d like to share, namely that the Department of Energy (DOE) is working towards an additional large-scale commitment to ensure the five Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRCs), including the Molecular Foundry, remain at the forefront for years to come.
With encouragement from DOE, the five NSRCs partnered last fall to produce a large-scale proposal for a 413.3B project to develop and acquire new instrumentation and capabilities to address some of the most important problems emerging at the frontiers of nanoscale science. Following internal and external review, DOE approved it as a “mission need” and elevated the proposal to “CD-0” status. This is a major milestone towards the possibility of obtaining considerable additional funding for the NSRCs to upgrade certain aging equipment and to develop new cutting edge instrumentation, and speaks to DOE’s continued strong support for our mission.
The Molecular Foundry played a central role in developing this proposal, and input from you, our user community, is heavily reflected in this document. We are very excited about the new science and capabilities it may enable.
The proposal describes a capital investment in state-of-the-art equipment capabilities with the specific goals of advancing emerging areas of nanoscience. These specific goals are:
- Expanding the Limits of Nanofabrication by enhancing capabilities for manipulating materials across length scales from the atomic to the macroscale, in three dimensions and with precise control of complex material compositions;
- Accelerating Nanoscale Materials Discovery and Design by combining effective means to manipulate and synthesize matter with in-situ characterization, towards the ultimate aim of autonomously placing atoms in 3D to achieve target material structure and function; and
- Decoding Nanoscale Dynamics and Heterogeneity by developing new tools and techniques for multi-dimensional local measurements capturing dynamical processes at their native length and time scales.
We were quite encouraged to see that funding was included for this proposal in the President’s FY2020 budget request to Congress, and that the House of Representatives included funding for the project in their appropriations bill. While we are still at an early stage with this proposed project, and have a lot of work ahead of us, the support and enthusiasm for the NSRCs continues to be strong and I’m optimistic that the rest of 2019 will be a great year for the Molecular Foundry.
In closing, I’d like to remind you that the Foundry’s annual User Meeting will be held August 21-22, 2019, and I look forward to seeing many of you there!