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Our History

A Passion for Discovery, a History of Scientific Achievement

Brookhaven National Laboratory was established in 1947 on the eastern end of Long Island at the former site of the U.S. Army’s Camp Upton. Originally built out of a post-World War II desire to explore the peaceful applications of atomic energy, the Laboratory now has a broader mission: to perform basic and applied research at the frontiers of science, including nuclear and high-energy physics; physics and chemistry of materials; nanoscience; energy and environmental research; national security and nonproliferation; neurosciences; structural biology; and computational sciences. Over its history, Brookhaven Lab has housed three research reactors, numerous one-of-a-kind particle accelerators, and other cutting-edge research facilities responsible for discoveries leading to many advances for science and society as well as seven Nobel Prizes.

then and now image

Alternating Gradient Synchrotron

Accelerators Reactors

Brookhaven was originally conceived, in part, to establish a national laboratory in the Northeastern United States to design, construct and operate large scientific machines that individual institutions could not afford to develop on their own. Throughout the years, Brookhaven’s scientists and visiting researchers have used these unique facilities to make discoveries in biology, physics, chemistry, geophysics, medicine, and materials science.

scientific discoveries

Explore Discoveries

Since Brookhaven opened its doors, countless innovations and inventions by staff and visiting scientists have contributed to research in many fields. Discoveries made here have shaped our understanding of the atom and the universe, advanced medical imaging techniques, and created new technology and tools for studying microbiology, climate and pollutants, energy storage and more.