Feds OK Light Project for Brookhaven Lab

The following appeared in Newsday on December 20, 2007.

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The U.S. Department of Energy has approved a $912-million price tag and an eight-year construction schedule for the new National Synchrotron Light Source II research installation at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The decision last week is one of several steps necessary to build the new light source, which is expected to be finished in June of 2015. The new facility would allow an unprecedented level of precision for ultramicroscopic medical, energy and materials research.

The lab is due to receive $65 million for the project in the coming year, $30 million of which was earmarked for the facility in the omnibus appropriations bill the Senate approved Tuesday. Sen. Charles Schumer's office said the Energy Department is expected to disburse the remaining $35 million from a larger pot of research funds it received from the same bill.

The Upton laboratory has been pushing the Energy Department to upgrade the lab's current light source - which produces brilliant X-rays used to peer at particles a millionth of a meter long - for the last several years.

"The light source is used by thousands of researchers who come and use the unique properties of the light that it produces to do experiments in fields from materials sciences to chemical sciences, life sciences, environmental sciences," said Steve Dierker, NSLS II project director at the lab. Dierker added that, when completed, the new facility "will be the brightest such light source in the world."

The existing light source was first switched on in 1982 and is used by 2,500 scientists each year, according to the laboratory. Research conducted there has, among other things, helped develop faster computer chips and won a Nobel Prize in chemistry for a 2003 study of how certain proteins generate nerve impulses.

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.


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