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August 2018

Foundry in Focus: Summer 2018 Newsletter

Dear Colleagues,

It was good to see so many of you last week at this year's Annual User Meeting. I'd like to thank the Molecular Foundry's User Executive Committee (UEC), and in particular its chair, Francesca Toma, for putting together such a stimulating agenda. I was particularly inspired by the quality and diversity of the research presented throughout the two days, but was most impressed with the energy and engagement of the community, which will inevitably lead to new ideas and growing collaborations between staff and users.

Along those lines, we have several new faces at the Foundry that I'd like to introduce to you. Dr. Jian Zhang joined the Organic facility earlier this month as a new staff scientist. He comes to us from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln where he was an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry. Jian has extensive experience in organic porous materials and has built a versatile research portfolio from molecular design to structural characterization to functional application for catalysis.

Dr. Liang Tan is starting in the Theory facility this week also as new staff scientist. Liang's expertise lies in theoretical condensed matter physics and computational materials science, and his research interests span photovoltaics, nonlinear optics, highly anharmonic systems, layered materials, and spin-orbit materials.

Dr. Sinead Griffin won the highly competitive early career Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) award, which supports early career researchers already at Berkeley Lab. Sinead will join the staff of both the Molecular Foundry and the Materials Sciences Division to focus on computational design of next generation quantum materials for a variety of applications, including quantum sensing and detection.

In June, Dr. Rohan Dhall joined the NCEM facility as a member of its technical staff. Rohan has extensive experience in electron microscopy and will support in situ TEM experiments and sample preparation for electron microscopy.

Even with all of these additions, we still have a few searches in progress, including the one for the next Foundry director, the result of which should be announced with the next month or so.

Many of you have asked about the event that closed the Molecular Foundry's Building 67 earlier this month. On the evening of August 7 during a planned removal of sodium amide by a contracted hazardous waste expert, a small flash fire occurred that triggered the sprinkler system in the fumehood where he was working. The fire was immediately extinguished but also flooded laboratories across four floors of the building. This large amount of water presented chemical and electrical safety concerns, which necessitated the closure of Building 67, as well as surrounding buildings, until all hazards - including water reactives - could be addressed. In the end, the Foundry reopened in less than 48 hours without sustaining any injuries. At this time, most equipment has been powered on and tested and no damage has been discovered. I'd like to thank everyone for their hard work and patience during this process. Your flexibility and can-do attitude went a long way to getting us up and running, and make me very proud of the community that we've built together.

In closing, I'd like to remind you of our next proposal call that opens next month with a deadline of September 30. Building off of what you heard at the AUM, I hope you'll think of new and exciting ways to engage with the Foundry, especially taking advantage our new staff members who add new resources of knowledge and expertise to our already outstanding group of PIs and technical staff. I look forward to seeing these ideas and working with you in the future.

Best regards,


J. B. Neaton
Director, Molecular Foundry
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab


Newsletter Vol 3 (pdf).