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BASF Inaugurates California Research Alliance

Teaming together with major universities on the West Coast, BASF Corporation has set up a multidisciplinary research institute with an emphasis on new inorganic materials and their applications, biosciences, and related technologies.

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From left to right: Richard Mathies, Professor of Chemistry, former Dean, College of Chemistry; Gene Block, Chancellor, UCLA; Peter Schuhmacher, President, BASF; Harald Lauke, President, BASF; Douglas S. Clark, Dean, College of Chemistry, Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Nicholas B. Dirks, Chancellor, UC Berkeley; Gray Davis, Former Governor, California; Peidong Yang, CARA Director, Professor of Chemistry.Photo courtesy of BASFThe California Research Alliance by BASF (CARA) will bring together BASF experts with researchers from widely varied science and engineering disciplines at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The cooperation will create ten postdoctoral positions and extends the already existing cooperations with those major research institutes.

“The West Coast area is an innovation landscape of high relevance,” said Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer, BASF Member of the Board of Executive Directors and Research Executive Director. “Using the creative spirit of this environment and pairing it with the broad expertise of BASF, UC Berkeley, Stanford and UCLA in the fields of bioscience and inorganic materials, we want to develop solutions beyond the borders of chemistry and biology.” 

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, UC Berkeley added: “The global challenges we face related to energy, health, the environment and sustainability are very real and have serious implications for our planet and our quality of life. Both basic and applied research are needed in these areas to understand the nature of the challenges and to develop long-term solutions. Constructive collaboration between academia and industry is necessary if we hope to translate our research into innovations for the public’s benefit.”

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The center will operate under a “hub and spokes” model in which the research projects and activities are headquartered and coordinated from UC Berkeley’s College of Chemistry. Selected research projects will also be carried out at Stanford University, UCLA, and other UC campuses. CARA will be led by Professors Peidong Yang and Omar Yaghi, both Department of Chemistry UC Berkeley, and Dr. Kerstin Schierle-Arndt of BASF. The directors will be supported in bioscience topics by Professor Matt Francis, UC Berkeley, and Professor Klaus-Jürgen Schleifer, BASF.

Topics already identified come from the fields of inorganic materials and biosciences. Projects in chemical systems biology aim to elucidate the molecular pathways which lead to desired as well as toxicological effects of biologically active chemicals on organisms. Understanding such pathways will help to develop safer products and contribute to better assess the relevance of toxicological effects for humans. Further research topics of the center will be about protein assemblies and structuring for e.g. the delivery of active molecules, stabilization of enzymes and optics.

Research for inorganic materials is especially interesting for the electronic industry. One of the challenges researchers face are shrinking feature sizes in electronic devices. This opens up opportunities for new materials and new manufacturing techniques. Another opportunity for contributions of material scientists in the areas of electronics or renewable energies such as photovoltaics is the design of new very small structures. Their behavior cannot be explained only by classical physics, but new effects occur, so called quantum effects. Development of materials which make use of those effects will be one of the efforts of this center.