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Ames Laboratory breaks ground on state-of-the-art instrument facility

Official groundbreakers for Ames Laboratory's new Sensitive Instrument Facility were (from left):Matthew Kramer, Interim Division Director, Materials Sciences and Engineering, The Ames Laboratory; Mark Grootveld, Facilities Manager, The Ames Laboratory; Tom Lograsso, past Interim Director, The Ames Laboratory; Jonathan Wickert, Senior Vice President and Provost, Iowa State University; Adam Schwartz, Director, The Ames Laboratory; Harriet Kung, Associate Director of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, U.S. Department of Energy; Cynthia Baebler, Manager, Ames Laboratory Site Office.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory broke ground today on a Sensitive Instrument Facility designed to isolate increasingly fine-tuned scientific equipment from environmental disturbances.

Located at the Applied Sciences Complex northwest of the Ames Lab and its contractor, Iowa State University, in Ames, Iowa, the 13,300 square foot facility will house six bays that eliminate the vibration and electromagnetic interference that might affect the accuracy of the microscopes scientists use to conduct research at the atomic level. These tools, such as electron and scanning probe microscopes, aid in the discovery and design of new materials.

Ames Laboratory Director Adam Schwartz , speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony held at the construction site, said the new facility would enhance the laboratory's international reputation in materials science.

"The SIF will house the next generation of state-of-the-art sensitive instruments that will advance the Lab's historic role in materials characterization and will also support the Department of Energy's science mission," he said.

In his remarks, Iowa State University Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert spoke of the relationship between Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, the Department of Energy, and the Ames community as a "partnership of great pride."

"There is no place in the world that can do the type of materials discovery and analysis that happens right here in the Ames Lab, and the facility that we're inaugurating today is going to be able to move that forward with an even higher velocity," Wickert said.

Harriet Kung, associate director of science for Basic Energy Sciences at the DOE, reflected upon on the evolution of the Ames Laboratory through nearly six decades of Basic Energy Sciences support.

"We hope the siting of this facility will be the start of several more decades of really excellent research Ames Laboratory that will contribute to a sustainable and secure energy future for the nation," she said.

The building site for the Sensitive Instrument Facility was chosen specifically for its low-vibration qualities. The design of the building includes two-feet thick concrete floors with vibration-dampening layers and instrument bays lined with quarter-inch thick aluminum to create an electro-magnetic barrier.

The building was designed by M+W U.S., Inc.; Sears Gerbo Architecture; and Snyder & Associates. The general contractor is McGough Construction.

The $10 million project is being funded by DOE's Office of Science and is expected to be completed in early 2015.


Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.

DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.


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