The Molecular Foundry (TMF)

Exterior of the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The Molecular Foundry is fully equipped with state-of-the-art, sometimes one-of-a-kind instruments providing laboratories for materials science, physics, chemistry, biology, and molecular biology.
Berkeley, California Location
2006 Start of Operations
968 (FY 2022) Number of Users


The Molecular Foundry (TMF), at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, began operations in 2006 and makes use of existing LBNL facilities such as the Advanced Light Source (ALS) and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC).  The facility is a six-story laboratory plus the adjacent integrated National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM) building fully equipped with state-of-the-art, sometimes one-of-a-kind instruments. TMF encompasses modular clean room space consisting of labs for nanofabrication/lithography and clean measurement, and a low vibration, low-electromagnetic-field laboratory housing state-of-the-art imaging and manipulation tools.  Space is allocated for equipment and staff dedicated to the preparation and characterization of inorganic, organic and biological nanostructures and for a theory group to collaborate with the experimentalists.  Equipment includes controlled environmental rooms, scanning tunneling microscopes, atomic force microscopes, transmission electron microscope, fluorescence microscopes, mass spectrometers, DNA synthesizer and sequencer, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, ultrahigh vacuum scanning-probe microscopes, photo, UV, and e-beam lithography equipment, peptide synthesizer, advanced preparative and analytical chromatographic equipment, and cell culture facilities.


Research at the Molecular Foundry over the next decade will exploit the uniquely multi-disciplinary environment created through its suite of scientific facilities by integrating the research interests of the diverse scientific staff within four major themes: (1) Combinatorial synthesis of nanomaterials—using robotic synthesizers to create libraries of biological and inorganic nanostructures for self-assembly and functional selection of optical, electronic and thermal properties; (2) Multimodal in situ imaging and spectroscopy—applying scanned probe microscopy, nanophotonics and electron microscopy to the investigation of dynamic nanoscale phenomena in liquid and vapor environments, with a strong emphasis on soft materials; (3) Interfaces in nanomaterials—engineering the mechanical and transport properties of hybrid nanomaterials through synthesis of heterostructures and interfaces, first-principles simulations, and characterization of function; and (4) “Single digit” nanofabrication—utilizing biological and organic templates, advanced lithographs and probe-based surface modification to deterministically fabricate arbitrary structures with sub-10nm precision.