The Kavli Nanoscience Institute

Located at the California Institute of Technology, the Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) emphasizes nanoscale research at the frontiers of electronics, photonics, quantum matter and technology, medical and bio-engineering, and sustainability. Since its inception in 2003, the KNI has been an intellectual hub and facilitator of cross-disciplinary research in the area of nanoscience and nanotechnology. It is the home of an advanced nanofabrication facility which helps support this research. The KNI has been critical to realizing exciting breakthroughs in nanoscale photonics, materials science, and biotechnology.

The KNI has assembled and operates a centralized nanoscale fabrication and characterization facility with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Kavli Foundation. The facility provides a suite of equipment made available to researchers at Caltech, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and many Southern California universities and industries. Within Caltech itself, there are more than 100 researchers spanning 33 faculty research groups across five academic Divisions. 

Additionally, the KNI—through its prize postdoctoral fellowships and its sponsorship of various institutional, national, and international programs—serves as the center of Caltech’s nanoscience community, bringing together scientists and engineers to exchange ideas and to develop partnerships.


In December 1959, at the meeting of the American Physical Society, Caltech professor and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman delivered a lecture titled: There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom. His talk described the possibility of making new scientific discoveries through the direct manipulation of individual atoms, and is often considered to have encouraged the development of nanoscience.

This field has developed rapidly in the decades since Feynman’s lecture.  Application of nanotechnology has led to new medical devices, new drug delivery systems, new techniques for tissue engineering, novel nano- and meta-materials with designed properties for optoelectronic applications, improvements in computing and communication devices, higher quantum efficiency in energy generation and conservation, and better processes for water and air treatment. For instance, lighter and stronger materials made possible through nanotechnology have been used in aerospace and construction, and nanotechnologies for lighting and insulation systems could play a key role in reducing energy consumption.  Common consumer goods, such as optics and textiles, have also benefited from advancements in the field of nanoscience.

The Kavli Foundation logo

The Kavli Foundation advances science for the benefit of humanity and promotes increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.  Read about exciting new research in nanoscience, neuroscience and astroscience at Curious Stardust, the new Kavli Blog.

Other Kavli Institutes in Nanoscience:


Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute at University of California, Berkeley (Kavli ENSI)


Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology (TU-Delft)


Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology at Harvard University (KIBST)


Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science (KIC)