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Matter of money. The Moore Foundation will be supporting studies of the novel properties of condensed matter, such as the Bose-Einstein condensate described in the 1990s. The graphic shows how, under certain conditions, atoms condense fro


Foundation Pledges $90 Million for Physics Research

The foundation launched by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore announced yesterday that it will spend $90 million over a 5-year period to support basic research in condensed matter physics. Citing a need to make up for flattening federal funding for basic research, as well as new opportunities provided by nanotechnology, the foundation says that their funds will back the investigation of materials in which the collective behavior of electrons and other components lead to novel emergent behavior such as superconductivity.

“In condensed matter physics, quantum materials—the materials and engineered structures in which interactions between the constituent particles show strong quantum-mechanical effects—present largely uncharted ground for study and immense opportunity for discovery,” said Cyndi Atherton, program director for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, who will lead the new program.

“New fascinating phenomena have emerged from complex electronic materials every few years, and some of them have become valuable technologically,” said Marc Kastner, a condensed matter physicist and the dean of the School of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, as well as a science adviser to the Moore Foundation. “However, they come from very long-range basic research, which is increasingly difficult for industry or even government agencies to support adequately. It is wonderful that the foundation has the vision to step in to make a difference.”

The foundation began in 2000 and now has an endowment of more than $5 billion. Every year the foundation spends approximately $250 million on efforts to promote environmental conservation, improving patient care, and scientific research, including a focus on marine biology, astronomy, and biological imaging. The new funds will go to grants that will support advances in theory and experiment, materials synthesis, instrument development, and community-building activities.