Black and white portrait of Luis Alvarez, a short-haired person smiling in a suit and tie.

Berkeley Lab’s nine-plus decades of transforming discovery science into solutions have resulted in hundreds of breakthroughs. These top 90 achievements offer a glimpse of some of the many discoveries developed at Berkeley Lab.


Six of the 16 Nobel Prizes received by Berkeley Lab scientists have been in the 21st century, including three in physics, two in chemistry, and one Nobel Peace Prize. This continues an unmatched record of achievement that began in the 1930s. A look through the ensuing decades shows how the Lab’s history yielded a bounty of knowledge that helped steer the course of scientific history and produced the advances in technology on which we depend today.

The Lawrence Lab? The Berkeley Lab? The Rad Lab? Nope. We’re Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, or Berkeley Lab for short. From a two-story, wooden building on the UC Berkeley campus to a billion-dollar institution, a lot has changed since our humble beginnings. Here’s our 90 years of history in less than three minutes to help you get it right.

Black and white portrait of James (Jim) Harris sitting behind his desk.

Berkeley Lab is legendary for its Nobel Prize-winning scientific discoveries, but only a fraction of our people ever become laureates. The Lab’s history has been written by a great many individuals, both scientists and non-scientists. Many succeeded despite obstacles. We honor their achievements.

Take a journey with us in this Then and Now feature, where we reflect on the Lab’s past and present progress through a series of interactive images, overlaying historic and modern photos taken from the same vantage points at Berkeley Lab.