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LBL Wins Grant To Create Molecular Design Institute

April 10, 1995

By Lynn Yarris,

BERKELEY, CA -- The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has selected the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) to create and host one of two Molecular Design Institutes. LBL has been awarded an initial grant of $735,000 and is scheduled to receive an additional $6 million later this year. Georgia Tech was the other host selected and it will receive $490,000 and $4 million respectively.

The Molecular Design Institute is an initiative that has been spearheaded by Mark Alper and other researchers in LBL's Materials Sciences Division. The purpose is to combine the efforts of chemists, biochemists, and physicists for the atomic-scale design, synthesis, processing, and characterization of new molecules and materials. Potential areas of application include electronics, photonics, sensors, catalysts, and a wide variety of novel materials and coatings.

LBL will establish its Molecular Design Institute (MDI) in collaboration with five universities and four private companies. These universities and companies combined with LBL to form a consortium that put together an MDI proposal that successfully competed for the ONR grant.

University members of the consortium are UC Berkeley, UCLA, Cal-Tech, Penn State and Rice. Private company members are IBM Almaden, AT&T Bell Labs, Motorola, and Intel.

The grant winners were selected competitively from proposals solicited by a "Broad Agency Announcement" in the September 13 issue of Commerce Business Daily. Selections were based on five criteria: overall scientific and technical merits; capabilities, related experience and facilities; qualifications and experience of the principal investigators and key personnel; realism of the proposal cost; and the amount of matching funds.

In a statement announcing the grants, ONR said, "The intention of these awards (to LBL and Georgia Tech) is to exploit recent advances in the atomic and molecular level of understanding materials synthesis and processing in order to develop superior approaches to new material structures."

Paul Alivisatos, a chemist with LBL's Materials Science Division and professor in UC Berkeley's Chemistry Department has been named "scientific director" of the new institute.

LBL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California.