Research and Education Centers

Research and Education Centers

Science is increasingly interdisciplinary, and the School of Physical Sciences is a leader in highly integrated scientific inquiry, innovation, and education. Several key centers where our researchers are leading the charge include the following:



Center for Closing the Carbon Cycle (4C), a Department of Energy-Energy Frontier Research Center (DOE-EFRC), is establishing the science for integrating CO2 capture from dilute sources and the conversion of the captured product into carbon-based commodities.  

Director: Dr. Jenny Yang, Chemistry

Ensembles of Photosynthetic Nanoreactors (EPN), a Department of Energy-Energy Frontier Research Center (DOE-EFRC), is understanding, predicting, and controlling the activity, selectivity, and stability of solar water-splitting nanoreactors that can absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity with an ensemble of nanoreactors producing commercially viable hydrogen from water.  

Director: Shane Ardo, Chemistry

Southern California Fusion Nexus Center is advancing UCI and Southern California partners as global leaders in fusion energy, making breakthrough discoveries in fusion and plasma science, providing opportunities for workforce training, and bridging academic and industry technology transfer.  

Director: Dr. Laszlo Bardoczi, Physics and Astronomy



AirUCI is dedicated to understanding and solving the urgent challenges related to air pollution, climate change, water quality, and green technology, at the local and global level. The center has 32 UCI faculty member affiliates across the disciplines of chemistry, physics, engineering, and medicine as well as national and international collaborators.  

Co-Directors: Dr. Barbara Finlayson-Pitts and Dr. Sergey Nizkorodov, Chemistry

CLEWS (Climate, Energy, Water Solutions) is turning scientific discoveries into action for the climate by exploring strategies to better manage greenhouse gas emissions and transition to renewable energy; improve forecasts of the hydrologic, wildfire, and ecological impacts of climate change; and design equitable and sustainable strategies to confront climate change.  

Co-Director: Dr. James Randerson, Earth System Science

CLIMATE Justice (A Cultural, Learning and Institutional Model to Accelerate Transformations for Environmental Justice) Initiative, a National Science Foundation Cultural Transformation in the Geoscience Community program, is training diverse populations of postbaccalaureate and doctoral fellows in climate and geoscience skills, and introducing the students to community-based research practices and the crucial role environmental justice plays in building resiliency to climate change.  

Director: Dr. Kathleen Johnson, Earth System Science

UCI OCEANS (Oceans, Changing Environments, Arts, and Nearshore Societies) is a campus-wide initiative that tackles, through research and education, pressing marine and on-shore environmental concerns and investigates questions at both global and local scales.  

Director: Dr. Adam Martiny, Earth System Science



Center for Complex Biological Systems (CCBS) integrates expertise and perspectives from diverse scientific fields to develop a deeper understanding of systems biology, includes faculty member representation from all four of our departments, and is affiliated with the graduate program: Mathematical, Computational, and Systems Biology.  

Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. John Lowengrub, Mathematics

Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center brings together a multidisciplinary group to discover, teach and heal within the broad discipline of cancer medicine. Members from the Departments of Chemistry and Mathematics play an important role in this center.

NSF-Simons Center for Multiscale Cell Fate Research (CMCF) brings together scientists across the physical and biological sciences to take on the formidable multiscale challenges associated with investigating complex cell fate systems using an integrated mathematical and experimental approach.  

Director: Qing Nie, Mathematics



Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Science Initiative is a School-wide effort that is educating the next generation of mathematicians and scientists in the foundations of AI and the application of AI to real-world science problems. The School is developing new undergraduate curricula and a certificate in “AI for Science” and a professional master’s program in “Applied AI for Science and Industry.”  

Leads: Dr. Yifeng Yu, Mathematics; Dr. Arvind Rajaraman, Physics and Astronomy; Dr. Christopher Davis, Mathematics  

Center for Cosmology brings together particle physicists and astronomers to explore links between the largest and smallest scales in nature. The Cosmology Center takes advantage of the fact that Physics & Astronomy have a combined department at UCI.  

Director: Kevork Abazajian, Physics and Astronomy

Center for Complex and Active Materials (CCAM), a National Science Foundation-Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (NSF-MRSEC), is establishing foundational knowledge toward the development of new materials that offer unique functionalities and superb performance. Specifically, interdisciplinary teams aim to create hard materials with complex chemical compositions exhibiting unprecedented physical properties (Group 1) and dynamically responsive soft materials which mimic complex biological processes and functions (Group 2).  

Director and Associate Director: Dr. Xiaoqing Pan and Dr. Ruqian Wu, Physics and Astronomy; Group 2 co-Lead: Dr. Zhibin Guan, Chemistry

Eddleman Quantum Institute (EQI) is stimulating the discovery of new quantum science phenomena by developing collaborations between investigators in a broad range of scientific endeavors and motivating future generations to study quantum science through educational and outreach activities.  

Director: William Evans, Chemistry


Research Facilities

The School of Physical Sciences houses specialized, first-class research facilities that allow our researchers and students to stay at the forefront of scientific discovery and education. The School also has fully staffed glass and machine shops and a chemical stockroom that is accessible at all times. Please contact each facility directly for more information including current capabilities, user rates, and outside user availability.

Biomolecular Spectrometry Facility, School of Physical Sciences and Ayala School of Biological Sciences

This joint facility has an 800 MHz NMR spectrometer for biomolecular studies. The 800 MHz NMR spectrometer can detect proton, carbon and nitrogen signals and is equipped with hardware optimized for biomolecular applications.

Location: Natural Sciences 1, Rm 1218
Contact: Rachel Martin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry

Center for Isotope Tracers in Earth Science (CITIES), Department of Earth System Science

The CITIES facility houses a range of sophisticated analytical instrumentation to prepare and analyze gases, organic matter, inorganic samples, and water for stable isotope composition. This includes four stable isotope mass spectrometers (IRMS) – capable of measuring air, water, soil, plant, and rock samples – and a High-Resolution Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (HR-ICP-MS) that is utilized for measuring elemental and isotopic tracers in natural samples. The Nu AttoM HR-ICP-MS can be utilized for high-precision analysis of nearly every element in the periodic table in both inorganic and organic solution matrices for a wide range of applications.

Location: Croul Hall
Contact: Kathleen Johnson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Earth System Science
Phone: (949) 824-6174

Greenplanet: Cluster Computing

The Greenplanet Cluster in the School of Physical Sciences in partnership with the Department of Chemistry Modeling Facility is a 362-node (6648-CPU, 20-GPU) research computing cluster based on both Intel and AMD processors. Inter-node networking uses Intel QDRInfiniband tuned for MPI parallel processing. Greenplanet is on the UCI Lightpath, with seven 10-Gb/s links to the Internet. Datastorage resources were recently doubled to 950TB with the addition of a 360TB BeeGFS array. Physical Sciences Computing Support staff and the Modeling Facility Director architect, operate, maintain, and provide user support for several hundred users from physical sciences and related fields.

Location: Engineering Gateway Data Center - Accessed Remotely
Phone: (949) 824-2755

Irvine Materials Research Institute (IMRI)

IMRI serves as the cross-campus nexus for materials characterization and fabrication. IMRI operates a range of state-of- the-art, open-access user facilities for the characterization of inorganic, organic, and biological materials and devices ranging from sub-Å to macroscopic length scales. IMRI is home to five transmission electron microscopes (TEMs), including the two highest-performance instruments in the world (Nion UltraSTEM 200 HERMES and JEOL Grand ARM) and a cryo-TEM (JEOL JEM-2100F) as well as comprehensive sample preparation instrumentation. IMRI also offers a wide range of state-of- the-art nanofabrication and characterization techniques, including scanning electron microscopy (SEM), focused ion beam (FIB) milling and deposition, electron beam lithography, thermal and e-beam evaporation, glancing angle deposition, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), in situ electrical/optical/mechanical nanoprobing, atomic force microscopy (AFM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray computed tomography, surface metrology, 3D light microscopy, and sample preparation.

Locations: Calit2, Engineering Hall, Engineering Tower
Contact: Jian-Guo Zheng, Ph.D., Staff Director
Phone: (949) 824-0441

Instrumentation Development Facility, Department of Earth System Science

The IDF is equipped to support electronic instrumentation from simple interconnects to complex systems. Services include advice, repair, design & development, and parts services. The IDF is open to all of campus.

Location: 2214 Croul Hall
Contact: Cyril McCormick E.E., Instrumentation Engineer
Phone: (949) 824-0045

Laser Spectroscopy, Department of Chemistry

Laser Spectroscopy Facility incorporates three laboratories for linear and nonlinear optical spectroscopy and materials characterization: Linear, Microscopy and Ultrafast Laboratories. Linear Spectroscopy Laboratory incorporates various techniques, as absorption/reflection/scattering spectroscopy, fluorescence, IR spectroscopy, circular dichroism, dynamic and static light scattering. Microscopy lab provides all-optical, Raman and fluorescence microscopy capabilities. Ultrafast laboratory equipped with several high energy pulsed laser systems: nanosecond, picosecond and high power femtosecond beamline. The spectral range of the experiments span from far UV to far infrared range to perform various transient absorption experiments, time-resolved fluorescence, four-wave mixing, THz time-domain spectroscopy to name a few.

Rowland Hall 315 – Linear Spectroscopy Laboratory
Rowland Hall 316 – Microscopy Laboratory
Rowland Hall 307 – Ultrafast Laboratory
Contact: Dmitry Fishman, Ph.D., Staff Director
Phone: (949) 824-8016

Machine Shop, School of Physical Sciences

The research machine shop provides quality machined parts and welding services to faculty, students, and staff. The shop works with a range of materials, such as titanium, molybdenum, stainless steel, nickel alloys, tool steel, tungsten, aluminum, composite materials, plastics, and wood. The shop also assists researchers in designing equipment to meet their needs with FeatureCam/Gibbs technology to use CAD programs for fabricating parts. The shop operates a fully stocked tool crib that sells materials and hardware.

Location:B012 Reines Hall
Contact:Mark Steinborn, Manager
Phone: (949) 824-6445
    Research Shop
    Student Shop

Mass Spectrometry, Department of Chemistry

The facility has over ten instruments that can study molecules as light as gases or as massive as proteins and polymers. A very unusual feature is that four of the mass spectrometers are student-operated and are available on a 24/7 basis. The facility also has multiple instruments applicable to biological applications. LC-ESI-MS (TOF and QqQ) and GC-MS are available in Open Access format for small molecule analysis, e.g., for identification and quantification of drugs and endogenous compounds. Protein analysis and identification is offered using nano-LC-MS/MS and MALDI-TOF.

Location: 1002 Reines Hall
Contact: Felix Grun, Ph.D., Staff Director
Phone: (949) 824-5682

Molecular Modeling, Department of Chemistry

This facility provides cutting-edge resources for performing computational simulations of chemical systems, spanning quantum-mechanical electronic structure of molecules and materials to molecular dynamics of large biomolecules and membranes. Calculations are primarily performed on the Greenplanet cluster. Current software packages include Turbomole, Spartan, Gaussian, NAMD, CP2K, AMBER, Octopus, NWChem, and AutoDock.

Location: 2102 NS2
Contact: Nathan Crawford, Ph.D., Staff Director
Phone: (949) 824-4508

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR), Department of Chemistry

The facility has four high-resolution instruments including a 600 MHz NMR spectrometer, two 500 MHz NMR spectrometers, and one 400 MHz NMR instrument. The instruments are equipped with a range of probeheads to enable access to a wide range of experiments, covering multi-dimensional, multi-nuclear and variable temperature NMR. The facility is available to all researchers at UCI, once they are trained, and operates 24/7 in open-access hands-on mode.

Location: B106 Reines Hall
Contact: Suvrajit Sengupta, Staff Director

Nuclear Reactor, Department of Chemistry

The reactor is a 250-kilowatt steady-state power Mark I TRIGA built by General Atomics and includes a variety of sample irradiation facilities. Several gamma-ray spectrometer systems are available, with a variety of detectors and modern software systems. A Compton suppression system and a multi-sample automatic changer provide for low background level and long sequenced counting. A delayed neutron counting system allows determination of small quantities of fissionable materials. A cesium-137 source provides gamma irradiation capability for specimens up to 12 inches in size. The facility is both a research and teaching tool, and open for use by students or classes at other universities and colleges.

Contact: John Keffer, Nuclear Laboratory Engineer
Phone: (949) 824-6082

UC Observatories

UCI School of Physical Sciences researchers use and help manage the UC Observatories, which include the Lick Observatory, the Keck Observatory, and the Thirty Meter Telescope.

W.M. Keck Carbon Cycle Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (KCCAMS) Facility, Department of Earth System Science

The KCCAMS facility operates a modified 500 kV compact accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) unit from National Electrostatics Corporation (NEC 0.5MV 1.5SDH-1 spectrometer) dedicated to measuring 14C. The spectrometer is equipped with an in house designed 60-sample MC-SNICS Cs sputter ion source, allowing measurement of ~800 unknown samples per month. Target preparation for AMS dating is available as part of the facility: samples handled routinely include organics (plant material and bone), carbonates, water, and CO2 and CH4 in air. Space for processing test samples (swipes) and low-level 14C-tracer work is maintained in neighboring building within the School of Physical Sciences. Further, the KCCAMS facility is further equipped with two stable isotope mass spectrometers (Thermo-Finnigan Delta+), with dual inlet or continuous flow capability. Peripheral interfaces include an elemental analyzer for elemental and isotope analysis of carbon and nitrogen in solids, a Gasbench II for isotope analysis of CO2, a thermal combustion elemental analyzer for isotope analysis of H2O, and a pre-concentrator coupled to a gas chromatograph for isotope analysis of trace gases, including N2O and CH4.

Contact: John Southon, Ph.D., Researcher
Phone:  (949) 824-3674

X-Ray Crystallography, Department of Chemistry

The facility contains two Bruker SMART APEX2 single-crystal diffractometers, each equipped for low-temperature data collection.  There are several computer workstations available for structure determination. The Cambridge Structural Database is available in the lab and to the entire campus via a site license.

Location: 577 Rowland Hall
Contact: Joe Ziller, Ph.D., Staff Director
Phone: (949) 824-4091

For additional research facilities, please check with the School of Biological Sciences facilities, Henry Samueli School of Engineering facilities, and School of Medicine facilities.