As the Science Program launched in 2002, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation made a long-term commitment of $300M to the California Institute of Technology, of which Gordon Moore is an alumnus and a Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees. The goal was “to support the institution to advance its position at the forefront of higher education, technological development, and scientific research.” It enabled work in the life and physical sciences, and in cross-cutting areas, by funding as examples, the creation and operation of research centers, specific research projects, and major equipment acquisition. Projects supported through this commitment span a breadth of disciplines, including cosmology, physical sciences, chemistry, earth and planetary sciences, structural biology, and neuroscience. The foundation’s commitment to Caltech, one of the most sizable donations to an institution of higher learning, has enabled breakthrough research that is advancing science in a number of different fields.
The following are a few examples of projects at Caltech that have been supported by our commitment:
Institute of Quantum Information and Matter
Scientists are coming together from diverse academic fields to explore new frontiers in Quantum Information Science, which unites quantum physics and information science. Quantum physics has provided the scientific foundation for creating items from transistors to lasers, and in concert with information science, has resulted in modern computers and smart phones. At the Institute of Quantum Information and Matter, faculty, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students from across disciplines are collaborating to create phenomena that have not heretofore existed in nature and to extend the boundaries of knowledge.
Center for Analysis of Higher Brain Function
Our support created a state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging center for higher-brain research and non-invasive study, allowing Caltech researchers to delve deeper into and ask new questions about brain function. Projects span neuroscience, chemistry, engineering, physics and social science—and aim, ultimately, to gain an understanding of human consciousness.
Sunlight to Solar Fuels
Researchers at Caltech are working on a critical problem for an energy-dependent human population: how to bring about artificial photosynthesis to generate fuel from an abundant, renewable source. This grand challenge requires cooperative research among scientists from chemistry, biology, physics and materials science and engineering. But at its core, it’s a fundamental question of chemistry: how can we oxidize water to generate oxygen, protons and electrons, and then shuttle the protons and electrons derived to make hydrogen or some other fuel?
Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology
Building on the expertise and partnerships of Caltech’s faculty across physics, chemistry and biology, this funding created the Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology and is strengthening the role of the physical sciences in biology. Research focuses on fundamental, groundbreaking studies of molecular complexity, the development of the technology of ultrafast imaging and its applications to systems of physical, chemical and biological function.