Teaming together with major universities on the West Coast, BASF Corporation has established a multidisciplinary research institute with an emphasis on new inorganic materials and their applications, biosciences, and related technologies. The California Research Alliance by BASF (CARA) will bring together BASF experts and researchers from widely varied science and engineering disciplines at University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), Stanford University, and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
The cooperation will create 10 postdoctoral positions and extends the existing collaborations with those major research institutes.
“The West Coast area is an innovation landscape of high relevance,” said Andreas Kreimeyer, Ph.D., 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.”
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, UCLA, and other UC campuses. CARA will be led by Peidong Yang, Ph.D., and Omar M. Yaghi, Ph.D. both professors in the Department of Chemistry UC Berkeley, and Kerstin Schierle-Arndt, Ph.D., of BASF. The directors will be supported in bioscience topics by Matthew B. Francis, Ph.D., a professor at UC Berkeley, and Klaus-Juergen Schleifer, Ph.D., of BASF.
“Partnering with esteemed universities, such as UC Berkeley, Stanford and UCLA, demonstrates BASF’s commitment to scientific discovery and innovation. Through these partnerships, we are adding more and more to our North American know-how and the BASF research verbund,” said Michael Pcolinski, Vice President, Innovation & Technology for BASF in North America.
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 effect 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 e.g., for 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.