Ground broken for nanotechnology center at Sandia and Los Alamos labs

05/25/04

ALBUQUERQUE, NM The new Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) at the Department of Energy's Los Alamos (LANL) and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) moved closer to reality with two groundbreaking ceremonies this week. The $76 million center is one of five new Nanoscale Science Research Centers to be built by the Department of Energy's Office of Science to provide researchers with world-class facilities for the interdisciplinary study of matter at the atomic scale.

DOE's Office of Science Director Raymond L. Orbach, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, U.S. Representative Heather Wilson, Sandia Labs Director C. Paul Robinson and Los Alamos Lab Acting Deputy Director Carolyn Mangeng presided at today's ceremonial turning of soil at the 95,000 square-foot Core Facility in Albuquerque. Orbach and lab representatives participated yesterday in a groundbreaking at a 34,000 square-foot Gateway Facility to Los Alamos.

"Nanoscale science and technology is at the frontier of materials science, chemistry, biology, computational science and engineering," Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said. "By accelerating the advancement of nanoscience, this new center will pave the way for new technologies that benefit our Nation's energy, environment, and national security and enable the United States to compete in the high technology world economy."

The center's primary objective will be to develop the scientific principles that govern the performance and integration of nanoscale materials, thereby building the foundations for future nanotechnologies.

"This joint enterprise will leverage science and engineering facilities at both laboratories, creating a unique environment where cutting-edge science can transition into technology that improves our world," Dr. Orbach said.

LANL and SNL will operate CINT jointly. Through its laboratory partnership, the center will make facilities in areas such as semiconductor, microelectronics and combustion research available to the user community of scientists and researchers. The CINT scientific user community will also have access to dedicated research capabilities in a new Core Facility in Albuquerque, the new CINT Gateway to Los Alamos and the existing CINT Gateway to Sandia.

Together, these three facilities will provide laboratory and office space for researchers to synthesize and characterize nanostructured materials, model and simulate their performance, and integrate nanoscale materials into larger-scale systems.

The Core Facility will include synthesis labs for chemical and biological work, characterization labs for optical and laser work, and Class 1000 clean rooms for integration operations. In order to ensure open access to the user community, the Core Facility will be constructed on DOE property outside Kirtland Air Force Base.

The CINT Gateway to Sandia will focus on nanomaterials and microfabrication from the existing Integrated Materials Research Laboratory, while the CINT Gateway to Los Alamos will include synthesis and characterization labs which primarily focus on biosciences and nanomaterials work. The new Gateway to Los Alamos facility will be in an open security environment at the lab.

Nanomaterials -- typically on the scale of billionths of a meter or 1,000 times smaller than a human hair -- offer different chemical and physical properties than bulk materials, and have the potential to form the basis of new technologies. Understanding these properties may allow researchers to design materials with properties tailored to specific needs such as strong, lightweight materials, new lubricants and more efficient solar energy cells. By building structures one atom at a time, the materials may have enhanced mechanical, optical, electrical or catalytic properties.

DOE's Office of Science has played a major role in developing facilities and tools to characterize and analyze materials at the nanoscale, but world-class facilities available to the scientific community to synthesize, process and fabricate nanoscale materials and structures do not exist. To fill that need, the Office of Science is funding the construction of five new DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers which will be the nation's premier user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale.

The centers will provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to explore, fabricate and study nanoscale materials. The centers are part of the department's contribution to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and they form an integrated national network. The centers will be located at DOE's Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Los Alamos/Sandia National Laboratories. DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the Nation, manages 10 world-class national laboratories and builds and operates some of the Nation's most advanced R&D user facilities. More information about the office and about the Nanoscale Science Research Centers is available at www.sc.doe.gov.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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