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College of Chemistry

2003 News Index

Paul Alivisatos to Head Materials Sciences at LBNL

Paul Alivisatos, a physical chemist and a pioneering leader in the burgeoning field of nanoscience, has been named director of Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division (MSD). He succeeds Daniel Chemla, who has served as MSD director since 1991 and will now devote full-time to directing the Advanced Light Source.

“This is an extremely propitious time for Paul Alivisatos to lead MSD, as we begin to establish the Molecular Foundry project at Berkeley Lab,” said Berkeley Lab director Charles Shank in announcing the appointment.

“He is recognized internationally as one of the fathers of nanoscience, having led the way in the synthesis, characterization, and understanding of semiconductor and metal nanocrystals, and having been among the first to publish results in this field more than a decade ago.”

Alivisatos received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1981 and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1986. He went to AT&T Bell Labs as a post-doctoral fellow and returned to Berkeley in 1988 as an assistant professor of chemistry. He was promoted to associate professor in 1993 and full professor in 1995. He served as UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Professor from 1998-2001, and added an appointment as a professor of materials science and engineering in 1999. He joined Berkeley Lab’s MSD staff in 1991.

Moving into the new millennium, the research group that Alivisatos heads has scored a number of landmark successes in nanoscience. For example, in 2000 they created the first semiconductor nanocrystals to be shaped like rods rather than spheres. This breakthrough led to a variety of even more exotic shapes, including teardrops, tetrapods and even arrowheads, all of which demonstrated the group’s ability to control nanocrystal shapes and sizes. Most recently, Alivisatos and his group produced a hybrid solar cell that advantageously combines nanotechnology with plastic electronics.

Alivisatos has published more than 100 papers on the structural, thermodynamic, optical, and electrical properties of nanocrystals. Among the many awards he has received are the Presidential Young Investigator Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation fellowship, the American Chemical Society’s Exxon Solid State Chemistry Fellowship, the Coblentz Award, the Wilson Prize at Harvard, and U.S. Department of Energy Awards for Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment in Materials Chemistry and for Sustained Outstanding Research in Materials Chemistry. He is a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and editor of American Chemical Society’s journal Nano Letters. He also serves on several editorial advisory boards.

In recognition of his impressive accomplishments, Alivisatos was named to head Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, one of the proposed new U.S. Department of Energy centers for nanoscience research.

“I welcome Paul Alivisatos’ vision and energy in leading the Materials Sciences Division at this very important point in its history,” said Shank.

For his part, Alivisatos expressed his appreciation to outgoing MSD director Chemla.

“I would like to thank Daniel Chemla, who has been an inspiring leader,” he said. “I look forward to working with the great staff and great scientists of MSD to continue a great tradition, so that we are in a position to prosper during the coming years.”

Shank also expressed his appreciation to Chemla, who in 1998 took on the responsibility for directing the ALS in addition to his MSD directorial duties.

“I want to express my deepest appreciation for the extraordinary efforts of Daniel Chemla in dynamically leading two Berkeley Lab divisions over the past four years,” Shank said. “The Laboratory is greatly in his debt, and fortunately we will continue to benefit from his leadership at the Advanced Light Source.”

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