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MIT Better World

By Christine Thielman

Building 12, home of MIT.nano, is now the Lisa T. Su Building.

Located in the center of campus adjacent to the Great Dome, the Lisa T. Su Building is an open-access facility for nanoscale science and engineering. Opened in 2018, the building is notable for expansive glass facades that allow unobstructed views into the laboratories, designed to visually connect researchers within the building and with the world outside. The design of the building has enlivened its  shared experimental facilities, drawing the participation of  researchers from more than three dozen departments, labs, and centers, as well as external users from industry, academia, and other organizations.

Inventing the future

“Nanoscience and nanotechnology are central to the work of MIT, and to the work of inventing the future,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “Through the superb research and training spaces inside its walls, Building 12   brings together many kinds of ‘brilliant’—students, faculty, and research staff; scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs—in spaces deliberately designed to trigger conversation, spark collaboration, and create community.”

Vladimir Bulović, the Fariborz Maseeh (1990) Professor of Emerging Technology and founding director of MIT.nano, notes that Su’s legacy at MIT began as soon as she graduated. “For many years after her graduation, Dr. Su’s technical recipes developed during her PhD studies were followed by new student researchers utilizing MIT’s shared toolsets for nanofabrication,” he says.

During her time at MIT, “She taught, mentored, and inspired her classmates,” says President Reif. “Now well-known, admired, and respected as a visionary leader for her transformation of AMD, Lisa Su is enabling MIT.nano to expand the boundaries of research and innovation at the nanoscale.”

An extraordinary career

In 2021, Su led the multinational semiconductor company AMD to its strongest performance in its more than 50-year history, bringing to market several leading-edge technologies. She previously served in multiple roles at Freescale Semiconductor, IBM, and Texas Instruments. Her remarkable career continues MIT’s legacy of educating leaders in the semiconductor industry. Su’s predecessors include Ray Stata ’57, SM ’58, cofounder of Analog Devices; Cecil Green ’24, SM ’24, cofounder of Texas Instruments; and Irwin Jacobs SM ’57, ScD ’59, cofounder of the global telecommunications firm Qualcomm.

Two of the many honors Su has received include the Global Semiconductor Association’s Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award, named for Morris Chang ’52, SM ’53, ME ’55, founding chairman of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and the Robert N. Noyce Medal, the highest honor awarded by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Robert Noyce PhD ’53 was a cofounder of Intel and the first person to make a monolithic integrated microchip. Su was the first woman ever to receive the Noyce Medal.

“I am deeply grateful for the impact that MIT has had on my education and training, and I am honored and extremely happy to be able to impact the next generation of students and researchers,” says Su. “There is no substitute for hands-on learning, and my hope is that MIT.nano will enable and develop the best and brightest technologists and innovators of the future.”

Lisa T. Su and Vladimir Bulović, the Fariborz Maseeh (1990) Professor of Emerging Technology and founding director of MIT.nano. Photo: Sarah Bastille Photography

An active member of the MIT community, Su has participated in several alumni committees, and she gave the Commencement address at the Institute’s 2017 Investiture of Doctoral Hoods. She served on the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Visiting Committee for 10 years and is currently a member of the MIT President’s CEO Advisory Board. In 2018, she established the Lisa Su Fellowship Fund, which supports female graduate students who have demonstrated progress and accomplishments in nanotechnology.

“It is wonderful that Lisa Su’s name will now adorn the home of today’s open-access laboratories and inspire the generations of students who enter the building to follow in her footsteps,” says Bulović.