UO nanoscience center opens new era for green technology
Photo by Michael McDermott
Donor Lorry I. Lokey's lead gift was pivotal in getting the Lorry I. Lokey Laboratories built.
Something unique is underfoot— seventeen feet underfoot, to be precise—in the heart of the University of Oregon’s Lorry I. Lokey Science Complex.
Already hailed as setting a new gold standard for nanoscience research centers, the UO’s new Lorry I. Lokey Laboratories building is a centerpiece of statewide efforts to position Oregon for a share of the $1 trillion annual market anticipated for “small tech” by 2015.
"Nanoscience is opening up whole new research worlds that until now have been invisible," said donor Lorry I. Lokey, whose lead gift was pivotal in getting the facility built. "I can’t wait to see all the new discoveries that will be coming out of Oregon.”
UO President Dave Frohnmayer told the standing-room crowd at special dedication ceremonies February 19 the building’s exceptional site, world-class expertise, and broad-based research partnerships will help speed advances leading to cures for cancer, cheaper solar devices, safe solutions for cleaning up water and the environment, and "yet-to-be-imagined" products and technologies.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Representative David Wu (D-Oregon), Silicon Valley executives, and corporate officials from as far off as Japan attended the celebration marking the building’s completion.
"Here in Oregon, we are America’s green capital," Wyden said. "I am especially pleased that we are going to be working on green nanotechnology."
Wu emphasized the need to ensure that advancements in nanotechnology are not only safe and beneficial but accepted as such by the entire population.
Frohnmayer said the new Lokey building, the first of two in the $76 million Integrative Science Complex, launches a new era that "will change the way science is done, and if I may say so, provide an exemplar for the world."
Industry experts agree the building’s exceptional setting, embedded seven feet into vibration-dampening sandstone, will open new vistas at the atomic scale by providing an exceptionally stable "tabletop" for the world’s most sensitive microscopes and probes.
Stability is the secret to detecting and capitalizing on the novel, sometimes quirky, properties found at the nanoscale, where quantum mechanics turns the classical laws of physics upside down and inside out. For example, some new materials are 250 times stronger than steel—but ten times lighter.
The new building, a signature research facility associated with the statewide Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), serves as a “high-tech extension service” bringing together industry and academic scientists from throughout the region.
The ONAMI consortium includes the UO, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Oregon Health & Science University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and industry partners throughout the region.
Taken together, the new Lokey building and its comprehensive array of ultrasensitive instrumentation are worth about $48 million. Funds for the $16 million building itself came from gifts and $9.5 million in bonds and lottery funds.
Frohnmayer emphasized that the facility and its special capabilities are available to all UO faculty members.
"Researchers in all fields, from art history to zebrafish, can use these powerful instruments to see things that haven’t been seen before, and to make discoveries that would not be possible without this building," he said.
Architect Jon Schleuning said the biggest design challenge was balancing the highperformance demands of the equipment with the overall goal of facilitating interaction among scientists and students.
"This is a people place, at a physical and intellectual crossroads joining science, research, education, and industry," Schleuning said. "It is a great achievement for the University of Oregon."
Donggyun Kim, president and chief executive officer of Hynix Semiconductor Manufacturing America Inc., said the UO and ONAMI give his company a competitive edge.
"With the UO’s Lorry I. Lokey Laboratories, Oregon is poised to be the national leader in nanotechnology training and research," Kim said.
"The impact of this phenomenal new signature research facility is going to be felt worldwide," said Skip Rung, executive director of ONAMI.
Besides the building itself, two important spaces within the facility bear the names of key donors:
• The Alice P. Tyler Perpetual Trust Nanofabrication Facility. The trust made the largest single grant in its history, $400,000, to help with the building’s construction.
• Loomis Group Conference Room, named for the international integrated marketing agency founded by Jeff Loomis ’83 in recognition of the $50,000 contribution he and his wife, Jennifer, made to the project.
Voxtel Inc. already has claimed one of the suites in the building's Partnership Laboratories.
The new Lokey building and reinstallation of the courtyard above, known as the Science Green, were designed by SRG Partnership Inc. and built by Lease Crutcher Lewis.
— Melody Ward Leslie