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Nature is brimming with examples of efficiency, from the way plants capture energy in sunlight to the molecular machines that make muscles contract. The Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute (ENSI) at UC Berkeley, partnered with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, brings together some of the world’s top researchers from across the fields of materials science, physics, engineering, and biology. Their investigations into nature’s ways of managing energy at the nanoscale will lead to real change in our capacity to generate, store, and use energy. Together, these researchers aim to improve the performance of existing energy technologies and develop entirely new ways of harnessing energy for the world’s growing population.

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Funded For A Long-Term Perspective

The Kavli ENSI was established by the Kavli Foundation, which sponsors an international program of research institutes dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity. Kavli has 20 institutes around the globe, and the foundation funds an international program that includes research institutes, professorships, symposia and other initiatives in four fields – astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics. The Kavli ENSI is the fifth nanoscience institute worldwide established by The Kavli Foundation, joining Kavli Institutes at the California Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and Harvard University.

The Kavli foundation views nanoscale science as a field that, with the necessary basic research, stands to lay the foundation for many positive changes worldwide. Because energy is so central of modern civilization, in the words of Fred Kavli, Founder and Chairman of the Kavli Foundation, “Kavli ENSI is positioned to revolutionize our thinking about the science of energy, and is positioned to do the kind of basic research that will ultimately make this a better world for all of us.”

To this end, the institute is supported by a $20 million endowment, with The Kavli Foundation providing $10 million and UC Berkeley raising equivalent matching funds. The Kavli Foundation also provides additional start-up funds for the institute. Kavli ENSI has received matching fund gifts from the Heising-Simons Foundation, establishing a Heising-Simons Junior Fellowship Program, and a donation from the Philomathia Foundation, establishing the Philomathia Graduate Student Fellowship Program.

All these efforts extend the Kavli Foundation’s mission of advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research and supporting scientists and their work. In doing so, the institute also provides researchers with resources to tackle scientific challenges they wouldn’t have been able to take on alone.


The Philomathia Discovery Fund operating within the Kavli ENSI supports research projects that have exceptional promise to deliver fundamental conceptual and technical breakthroughs. This Discovery Fund is made possible by a matching gift from the Philomathia Foundation, which was founded to promote human values and science through education and research.

The Heising-Simons Energy Nanoscience Fellows Program has established a named fellowship to provide support for outstanding graduate students, postdocs or early-career faculty who are performing research affiliated with the Kavli Institute. This fellowship is made possible by a matching gift from the Heising-Simons Foundation, which supports efforts in education, environment, science and public policy.