The CNSI is one of four Governor Gray Davis Institutes. The institute is located on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles. Their goal is to pro- mote nanoscience research at the boundaries of disciplines, translate discoveries into commercial enterprises, and educate the next generation. To accommodate this goal, they offer equipment, laboratories and offices to external parties. The CNSI is mainly supported by private investments. At the institute, we first got a talk about the institute, the type of research that is done there, and their start-up incubator. After that we got a lab tour. Their laboratories are divided into six Technology Centers. During the tour we saw three of them: The Advanced Light Microscopy/Spectroscopy (ALMS) lab, the Nano & Pico Characterization (NPC) lab, and the Electron Imaging Center for Nanomachines (EICN). At the ALMS lab, a technician showed us 3D images created using a confocal microscope. He explained that they use fluorescent dyes to image, for example, brain cells in living fish. The confocal microscope can image up to 6 mm below the sample surface. At the NPC lab they showed us Scanning Tunnelling Microscopes and Atomic Force Microscopes. They also showed us some images taken using these techniques. At the EICN, they showed us their Titan Krios system. This is a Transmission Electron Microscope that operates at liquid nitrogen temperatures. This is very useful for imaging biological samples. One of the institute’s goals is to support students (of UCLA) that are looking to start their own company. Students can pitch their start-ups to the institute. If the start-up shows enough potential, the institute offers them the use of their facilities and will invest in the company. They also offer courses and assist in acquiring patents. This program is called the Magnify incubator. They have an open access model, which means that the institute is open 24 hours every day of the year. They offer 6900 sq ft laboratory space and 1100 sq ft of office space and a 10000 sq ft cleanroom for nanofabrication. Whoever is in the institute can get access to their highly specialized equipment, such as the previously mentioned microscopes, the cleanroom and high throughput screening equipment. Many start-ups that started at the CNSI have become successful. More than half of them are pharmaceutical, but there are also companies that do diagnostics or make medical devices. The institute integrates 160 faculty members from 36 different departments of the university. The technical staff is mostly PhD-level. They have close connections with the Medical School Center and also collaborate a lot with the University of Santa Barbara. The institute offers science workshops to schools, which are developed in-house by graduate students. These programs are designed to get primary and high school kids excited for science. They also organise summer schools. After lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon at Griffith Park. Here we could walk around in the hills and visit the Griffith Observatory. In the Observatory there was a large exhibition about science, especially space science. There were demonstrations and interactive displays. You could also go up to the telescope or watch the stars in the planetarium.

Categories: Los Angeles