Joined: 16 Mar 2004
|Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:02 am Post subject: New US Nanoscience Facility Opens Doors to Researchers
|New US Nanoscience Facility Opens Doors to Researchers
by Will Kane
Lab Provides Scientists From Around the World With State-of-the-Art Technology for Projects.
A lab at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently opened, providing nanoscientists with a toolbox to conduct research in the nanosciences free of charge.
Called a “user facility,” the Molecular Foundry at the Lawrence Berkeley lab allows scientists from around the world to reserve space at the lab to conduct their research on its state-of-the-art equipment.
The U.S. Department of Energy, which co-manages the lab with the university, pays for all of the research conducted at the foundry as long as the results and analysis are made public, said Mark Alper, deputy director of the foundry.
Researchers can also submit requests for data generation by the staff at the lab, Alper said.
The foundry, which is one of the newest in the laboratory complex, is composed of six different departments ranging from the imaging of nanostructures to the research and development of biological nanostructures.
“We take the lessons of nature in biology and use that to design nano-structures based on nature’s structures,” said Bruce Cohen, a staff scientist in the Biological Nanostructures department.
His department can build structures based on the pattern of DNA, and modify them for research purposes, he said.
The nano-imaging department uses scanning electron microscopes that take pictures at a resolution of one to two nanometers, said D. Frank Ogletree, a staff scientist in the imaging department.
Because of the high resolution of the images, the area housing the department must be free from all vibrations and interference, Ogletree said.
“The stability is as good as the earth below, which doesn’t say much in the Bay Area,” Ogletree said.
The biggest source of vibrations in the basement are waves crashing against the coast during winter storms, he said.
The foundry has approximately 130 approved projects in progress, and 10 are from foreign countries, Alper said.
“Our goal is to provide an international facility to enable interdisciplinary study of nanoscience by
investigators from institutions around the world,” he said. “It’s a good excuse to come out to California.”
Seeking to build connections and develop their own technological economy, a delegation including French scientists and businesspeople visited the lab on Thursday in their tour of Bay Area technology.
“We are trying to make connections with people here,” said Annie-Florence Loyer, a spokesperson for the group. “We want to raise expectations of the investors.”
Some members of the group said they were impressed by the setup of the foundry, but disappointed that the majority of the technology wasn’t geared toward life sciences as the delegation was.
“It is very impressive, one of the most advanced research facilities I have seen,” said Frederic Le Roux, the CEO of Prime, Inc. an organization charged with bringing new technology to the Paris region that coordinated the delegation. “The (delegation) is focusing more on the life sciences. I need to come back with a group made up of specialists in the nanotech field.”
This story was first posted on 4th December 2006.