Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Berkeley, Alameda County
(AD-15, SD-09)

Michael Witherell, PhD, Director

Jim Hawley, State and External Relations | (916) 747-7912

Dan Krotz, Strategic Communications | (510) 486-4019


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence. Considered the father of multidisciplinary team science, Lawrence was a University of California (UC) Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator that opened the door to high-energy physics and the foundation of today’s Nobel Prize-winning accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider.

Today, Berkeley Lab is managed by the University of California for DOE. Berkeley Lab’s close relationship with UC Berkeley brings the intellectual capital of the university’s faculty, postdocs and students to bear on the nation’s great scientific questions, a partnership that underpins the lab’s extraordinary scientific productivity.


  • No. of Employees: 3,302 (2016)
  • No. of Postdocs and Students: 897
  • PhD Scientists and Engineers: 1,805
  • Annual Budget: $827 million (2016)
  • Annual Payroll: $342 million (2016)
  • Procurements to CA Businesses: $142 million (2016)
  • Contracts to Small Businesses: $97 million (2016)
  • No. of Patents (last 10 years): 678
  • IP Licenses (last 10 years): 913
  • No. of Startups Based on Tech: 48


The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) ranks among DOE’s most productive “multipurpose” labs for nonclassified research. Its scientists have won 13 Nobel Prizes and 13 National Medals of Science, and its nearly 900 post-docs and graduate/undergraduate students make it the largest STEM pipeline in the national lab system.

Berkeley Lab houses many “user facilities” — state-of-the art lasers, instruments, and computers available for industry and university use. In 2016, more than 11,700 researchers (40 percent from California research institutions) accessed Berkeley Lab user facilities. Work conducted at these facilities has led to better medicines, new materials, and more efficient solar cells and batteries. Notable user facilities include the Advanced Light Source, Molecular Foundry, National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), FLEXLAB, and the Joint Genome Institute.

Berkeley Lab also drives industrial innovation, with 48 startups founded on Lab-developed technology, creating more than 2,000 new jobs in those companies alone. Berkeley Lab technologies have been licensed in fields including biotechnology, energy efficiency, nanotechnology, IT, materials discovery, semiconductor manufacturing, subsurface modeling, and health.


Berkeley Lab partners with a number of California agencies — including the Energy Commission; the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, and the Department of Water Resources under the Natural Resources Agency; the Public Utilities Commission; and the Air Resources Board — to support the state’s ambitious clean energy, water and environmental goals. Berkeley Lab designs, builds and houses some of the world’s most powerful microscopes, X-ray beams, and supercomputers. Its researchers use these and other tools to tackle major challenges: coaxing more power from solar cells, building better batteries, and developing clean biofuels and bioproducts for the future.

These resources give the Berkeley Lab deep expertise in energy efficiency and renewable energy research and development, earth and environmental systems, air pollution monitoring, climate modeling, water management, geosciences, biosciences, physics, high-performance computing, and nanotechnology — all with potential benefits for Californians. A great example is the legacy of Berkeley Lab physicist Art Rosenfeld, which led to the the Lab’s pioneering results in energy-efficient windows, cool roofs, applicance standards, and other technologies that helped eliminate growth in per-capita electricity use in California — saving the state’s consumers more than $900 billion in avoided energy costs.


Imagine a window shade with a brain. Researchers at the Molecular Foundry designed a thin coating of nanocrystals, embeddable in glass, that can dynamically modify sunlight as it passes through a window. Unlike existing technologies, the coating provides selective control over visible light and heat-producing near infrared (NIR) light, so windows can maximize both energy savings and occupant comfort in a wide range of climates. These smart windows use small jolts of electricity to switch the material between NIR-transmitting and NIR-blocking states, and can independently control blocking of visible versus NIR light. This innovation led to the creation of Heliotrope Technologies, based in Alameda, CA.


The DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) in Emeryville is led by the Berkeley Lab. Researchers there had discovered a new, environmentally-benign way to manufacture malonic acid, a high-value chemical used in manufacturing. Until recently, malonic acid production required toxic chemicals such as cyanide. Working with experts at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Biofuels/Bioproducts Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU), the local biotech startup Lygos demonstrated the scalability of the new biomanufacturing process at production costs competitive with conventional technologies. To date, JBEI has generated more than 160 patent applications, 90 licenses, and six startup companies — five of which are located in California.


Thurmond“Since its founding, the Berkeley Lab has been a leader in developing science solutions for the many energy and environmental challenges we face in the East Bay, in the state, and across the nation. I am proud to have this world-renowned science and technology powerhouse in my district.” — Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond)

Skinner“Berkeley Lab is home to world-renowned scientific leaders. These brilliant minds are crafting the technology we need — today and tomorrow — to advance our lives, protect our planet, and enhance our economy. Berkeley Lab researchers are on the cutting edge of technological transformation, for California and the world.” — Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley)



Alongside academic powerhouses such as the University of California campuses, Stanford, and Caltech, Californians can take pride in our unrivaled collection of federal laboratories and research centers. CCST helps facilitate links across the capabilities and talents of these labs and centers through its Federal Laboratory Affiliates program — convening their expertise to deliver impartial science advice in response to the Governor, the Legislature, and other state entities. Learn more about the federal labs and science centers benefiting California at

Find the California Council on Science and Technology on Facebook at, on Twitter @CCSTorg, and on LinkedIn. Learn more about CCST at

Updated: 2018.02.13