Vice Chancellor for Research, and Samsung Distinguished Professor of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, UC Berkeley
Department of Chemistry
(510) 486-5111

Research Expertise and Interest

physical chemistry, semiconductor nanocrystals, nanoscience, nanotechnology, artificial photosynthesis, solar energy, renewable energy, sustainable energy


Paul Alivisatos is UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Research since March 1, 2016.   As Vice Chancellor for Research he has overall responsibility for UC Berkeley’s research endeavor and primary leadership in research policy, planning and administration including relations between the university and industry, research compliance, research communications and research support for the Berkeley campus. His administrative portfolio includes management of over fifty campus research units, twelve research museums and remote field stations, and research administration offices including the Office of Research Administration and Compliance, Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances (IPIRA), and the Office of Lab Animal Care.

Dr. Alivisatos is UC Berkeley's Samsung Distinguished Professor of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. He also directs the Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute (ENSI), and holds professorships in UC Berkeley's departments of materials science and chemistry. In addition, he is a founder of two prominent nanotechnology companies, Nanosys and Quantum Dot Corp, now a part of Life Tech. 

From 2009 to 2016, Dr. Alivisatos served as Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). During his tenure, the Lab began construction on new buildings for computational research, buildings efficiency, solar energy research, and biological sciences. He spearheaded several strategic initiatives that include energy innovation to help move humanity toward net zero impact in the global carbon cycle; a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and using microbial life for clean energy, environment, and health; an early-stage proposal to upgrade the Lab’s Advanced Light Source; and, harnessing the computing and data revolution to greatly advance scientific discovery. 

Groundbreaking contributions to the fundamental physical chemistry of nanocrystals are the hallmarks of Dr. Alivisatos's distinguished career. His research breakthroughs include the synthesis of size- and shape-controlled nanoscrystals, and forefront studies of nanocrystal properties, including optical, electrical, structural and thermodynamic. In his research, he has demonstrated key applications of nanocrystals in biological imaging and renewable energy. He played a critical role in the establishment of the Molecular Foundry, a U.S. Department of Energy's Nanoscale Science Research Center, and was the facility's founding director. He is the founding editor of Nano Letters, a leading scientific publication in nanoscience. 

Dr. Alivisatos has been recognized for his accomplishments, with awards such as the National Medal of Science, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, the Linus Pauling Medal, the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award, the Eni Italgas Prize for Energy and Environment, the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics, the American Chemical Society Awards for Materials Chemistry and for Colloid and Surface Science, and the Von Hippel Award of the Materials Research Society. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Alivisatos received a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry in 1981 from the University of Chicago and Ph.D. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1986. He began his career with UC Berkeley in 1988 and with Berkeley Lab in 1991.

In Research News

Paul Alivisatos
July 5, 2017

Paul Alivisatos, an internationally renowned chemist and UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for research, has been chosen to serve as the campus’s new executive vice chancellor and provost, effective immediately.

December 13, 2016

Three UC Berkeley faculty members and entrepreneurs have been named fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.

May 20, 2016

President Barack Obama yesterday honored two UC Berkeley faculty members at the White House, awarding chemist Paul Alivisatos with the National Medal of Science and electrical engineer Chenming Hu with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Paul Alivisatos
February 16, 2016

Paul Alivisatos, UC Berkeley’s newly appointed vice chancellor for research and the outgoing director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been awarded the international Dan David Prize for his contributions in the field of nanoscience.

Paul Alivisatos
January 21, 2016

Paul Alivisatos, an internationally renowned chemist who has run the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for the past seven years, has been tapped to lead the research enterprise at the UC Berkeley.

Chenning Hu and Paul Alivisatos awarded for National Medals of Science, Technology
December 22, 2015

Paul Alivisatos, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of chemistry, and Chenming Hu, a professor emeritus of electrical engineering and computer sciences, have been selected to receive the nation’s top honors in science and technology.

September 25, 2014

Two state-of-the-art research areas – nanotech and optogenetics – were the dominant theme last Thursday, Sept. 18, as six researchers from UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory sketched out their teams’ bold plans to jump-start new brain research.

Calculated atomic structure of a 5nm diameter nanocrystal passivated with oleate and hydroxyl ligands.
May 29, 2014

Berkeley Lab researchers have found unexpected traces of water in semiconducting nanocrystals that helps answer long-standing questions about their surface chemistry.

April 17, 2014

Arkin has been named one of six recipients of the 2013 Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. The E.O. Lawrence Award, the DOE’s highest scientific honor, is recognizing Arkin “for his work advancing biological and environmental sciences."

January 7, 2014

President Obama named 102 researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

October 3, 2013

The Kavli Foundation has endowed a new institute at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) to explore the basic science of how to capture and channel energy on the molecular or nanoscale and use this information to discover new ways of generating energy for human use.

October 2, 2013

Berkeley Lab researchers apply transmission electron microscopy through unique graphene liquid cell

August 23, 2013

Chemist Paul Alivisatos, one of the pioneers of nanoscience, has been appointed to the Samsung Distinguished Chair in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at UC Berkeley in recognition of his many scientific achievements.

April 2, 2013

Three UC Berkeley scientists were among a gathering of the nation’s top scientists at the White House this morning (Tuesday, April 2) as President Barack Obama announced a major national initiative to develop new tools to create real-time traffic maps of the human brain.

April 19, 2012

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a technique for encapsulating liquids of nanocrystals between layers of graphene so that chemical reactions in the liquids can be imaged with an electron microscope.

February 8, 2012

To broaden and accelerate its efforts at poverty alleviation Berkeley Lab announces the launch of the LBNL Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies.

January 30, 2012

Berkeley Lab researchers have discovered why a promising technique for making quantum dots and nanorods has so far been a disappointment. Better still, they’ve also discovered how to correct the problem.

January 23, 2012

The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, bursting at the seams of its home next door to UC Berkeley, announced Monday that it has picked the University of California’s bayside Richmond Field Station as the site of its second campus.

January 12, 2012

Paul Alivisatos, Berkeley Lab director and UC Berkeley professor, has won the prestigious Wolf Foundation Prize in Chemistry for 2012. Alivisatos is an internationally recognized authority on nanochemistry and a pioneer in the synthesis of semiconductor quantum dots and multi-shaped artificial nanostructures.

July 1, 2011

Berkeley Lab researchers created tetrapod molecules of semiconductor nanocrystals and watched them break a fundamental principle of photoluminescence known as “Kasha’s rule.” The discovery holds promise for multi-color light emission technologies, including LEDs.

May 3, 2011

Experts from around the Lawrence Berkeley Lab and beyond will come together to tackle some of the Big Questions facing scientists in areas relating to energy and climate, Tuesday, May 3, at 3 p.m.

May 3, 2010

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has been awarded $8.6 million in Recovery Act funding for what the DOE calls "ambitious research projects that could fundamentally change the way the country uses and produces energy."

February 17, 2009

Unconventional solar cell materials that are as abundant but much less costly than silicon and other semiconductors in use today could substantially reduce the cost of solar photovoltaics, according to a new study from the Energy and Resources Group and the Department of Chemistry at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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