University of Oregon students crossing a grassy oval in the
Lorry I. Lokey Science Complex this spring will be surprised to learn
that, under their feet, researchers are operating millions of dollars
worth of delicate high-tech equipment to find answers that could help
propel Oregon to the forefront of the fast-growing nanotechnology
Dedicated on Tuesday, the new underground Lorry I. Lokey
Laboratories building is a signature research center associated with
Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI),
a consortium that includes the University of Oregon, Oregon Health
& Science University, Oregon State University, Portland State
University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and the region's
The facility's special capabilities will advance work related
to curing human diseases such as cancer, developing cheaper solar
devices, cleaning up water and the environment, and creating yet-to-be
imagined products and technologies. "Nanoscience is opening up whole
new research worlds that until now have been invisible," said donor
Lorry I. Lokey. "I can't wait to see all the new discoveries that will
be coming out of Oregon."
Construction was funded by private gifts and $9.5 million in
bonds and lottery funds approved by the 2003 Oregon Legislature and
issued in 2005. In addition to Lokey, major donors are the Alice C.
Tyler Perpetual Trust and Loomis Group of San Francisco. The first new
building for the College of Arts and Sciences since 1990, the Lokey
building is part of almost $250 million worth of university
construction - completed or underway - made possible by Campaign
Oregon: Transforming Lives.
Lokey, 81, is a journalist-turned-philanthropist who sold his
global Business Wire news service to Warren Buffett’s
Berkshire Hathaway in 2006. His gifts to the UO now total $132 million,
including $25 million for construction of the new $76 million
Integrative Science Complex that comprises the new building and a
second building scheduled to break ground in 2010.
During the dedication Tuesday, UO President Dave Frohnmayer
read a message from Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski congratulating
Oregon’s high-tech community, ONAMI and the university for
creating what many experts say is the optimal setting for nanoscience
"This facility is an example of the state's innovation-based
approach to economic development and the crucial link of higher
education research to the economy," Kulongoski wrote. "Together, the
state, the University of Oregon and ONAMI are not only creating the
seeds for the economy of the future, but they are enhancing Oregon's
economy today." The nanotechnology boom is expected to become a $3
trillion industry capable of generating 20 million highly-skilled jobs
worldwide within the next 15 years.
David Chen, chair of the Oregon Innovation Council, said the
Lokey building's capabilities provide the region with a "significant
time and infrastructure advantage" in the global race for innovation at
atomic and molecular scales. "ONAMI researchers and corporate partners
will now have unprecedented access to one of the world’s
largest and deepest collections of state-of-the-art equipment and
technologies," Chen said.
The Lokey labs will contain more than 20 ultra-high-precision
metrology, probe, lithography and bio-optics instruments not generally
available except at major scientific facilities. Their value, taken
together, will easily be double the cost of constructing the building.
"We are proud to unveil this unique, shared research
facility," Frohnmayer said. “The norm at universities has
been for precious research instruments to be siloed away in departments
or in the labs of the professors who wrote the grants for them. I am
proud to say the University of Oregon is completely different. Our
faculty decided to bring many of the most powerful tools in the world
and the expertise needed to realize their full potential into this
building so that researchers in all areas, from art history to
zebrafish, will see things with new eyes."
Rich Linton, UO vice president for research and graduate
studies, said the building's exceptional site and innovative mechanical
engineering make it one of the world's "quietest" nanoscience research
centers according to recent tests. A report by Colin Gordon Associates
confirmed the facility is two to four times quieter than the advanced
standard for vibration required by the National Institute of Standards
"We were gifted by Mother Nature with an extraordinary
contribution in the form of the bedrock only 17 feet below ground
surface," Linton said. "This means that for very reasonable
construction costs and through innovative design, we have a world-class
facility that minimizes noise and vibrations to serve as the literal
foundation for science and technology breakthroughs at the nanometer
In this case, "quietness" means ultra-sensitive research tools
are so well shielded from sources of vibration, such as dump trucks
rumbling down nearby streets, that scientists can achieve new levels of
control over bits of matter as small as atoms. One instrument, an
atom-resolving microscope named "Titan" by its Hillsboro, Ore.-based
manufacturer, FEI Co., weighs as much as two cars yet is as fragile as
the most delicate camera ever made.
"This new building strengthens Oregon’s leadership
role in the global race to develop nanotechnology," said Don Kania, FEI
president and chief executive officer.
Taken together, the building and equipment comprise what UO
and ONAMI officials describe as "the nation’s first high-tech
extension service," Frohnmayer said. Scientists anywhere in the world
can send their samples to the Lokey facility and watch live via a
secure Web connection while samples are processed on ONAMI’s
NanoNet. Revenue generated by user fees will help underwrite operation
costs of the facility.
The building also reserves prime space for industry partners.
The first occupant of the Partnership Labs is Voxtel Inc., of
Beaverton, Ore., an award-winning maker of high-performance photonic
devices used for a wide range of government, industrial and scientific
markets including space applications. "This unique combination of
resources allows Voxtel to conduct world-class research, to innovate,
and to rapidly develop and market new technology," said Voxtel
President George Williams.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the new Lokey building is
exactly what he had in mind for Oregon when he wrote the 21st Century
Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. "This cutting-edge
facility represents a tremendous addition to the students and faculty
at the University of Oregon as well as Oregon's nanotechnology
community," he said.
U.S. Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., joined Wyden in addressing
attendants at the dedication. "It is especially gratifying to see that
these facilities will be broadly available to support university and
industry partners and to serve the growing cadre of enterprises in
Oregon focused on the development and commercialization of
nanotechnology," he said.
The Lokey building and courtyard above it were designed by SRG
Partnership Inc. and constructed by Lease Crutcher Lewis. Frohnmayer
said the design reflects a commitment to preserving existing open space
on the historic campus.