The Laboratory for Molecular Robotics was established at USC in the late Fall of 1994 with primary support from the Zohrab A. Kaprielian Technology Innovation Fund (ZAKTIF). The ZAKTIF program emphasized high-risk, high-payoff, interdisciplinary research. The exploratory research which led to our successful ZAKTIF proposal was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The lab's support since then has come from several grants, primarily from the National Science Foundation.
The lab is an interdisciplinary effort between faculty, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students with diverse backgrounds: Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Robotics, Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science and Biology. The four founding faculty members cover a broad disciplinary spectrum: Ari Requicha, who is the lab's founding director, is a pioneer in 3-D geometric modeling, and has over 30 years of experience in robotics and automation; Bruce Koel is a chemist and surface scientist; Anupam Madhukar is a materials scientist with expertise in photonic materials and SPM imaging; and Peter Will is a robotics pioneer with a broad background in engineering and computer science. Two other faculty members have joined us more recently: Mark Thompson is a synthetic chemist whose background includes work on organic LEDs, and Chongwu Zhou is a nanoelectronics and nanosensors expert working primarily with nanowires and nanotubes. Prof. Zhou became the lab director at the end of 2008.