Argonne National Lab and the University of Chicago are pooling their resources with the establishment of UC's new Institute for Molecular Engineering. Researchers at the Institute will explore ways of fabricating and manipulating nanoscale structures to develop new technologies. The germination of the Institute comes from years of molecular research in the basic sciences, both physical and biological, and the desire to craft solutions to real world problems from those scientific insights. The new partnership will benefit not only from the resources of both the National Lab and the University of Chicago, but from the interdisciplinary nature of the Institute's approach to scientific problems.
The organization of the new Institute has led many faculty and research scientists to talk about a new type of engineering (watch the video directly above), both in the sense that molecular engineering is a nascent field and because the approach represents a new paradigm for investigation.
Increasingly, researchers are asking the question: How do systems evolve? And the answers they are coming up with may lead to discoveries like "new polymer materials based on self-assembly of synthetic and bio-inspired materials," referring to the work of Matthew Tirrell. Heading the new Institute for Molecular Engineering, Tirrell was recently recruited from UC Berkeley, where he chaired the Department of Bioengineering and worked as a faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
The Institute for Molecular Engineering will be housed in a new building to be constructed on the U Chicago campus, the William Eckhardt Research Center, a 265,000 square foot facility due to be completed in 2015.
(Photo courtesy of the University of Chicago Facilities Services)
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