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Ernest Moniz


New light source shines at Brookhaven National Laboratory

Prospects were looking bright today at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz dedicated the lab’s new $912 million National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), which will be the brightest synchrotron light source in the United States and—within a certain energy range—the world.

“The research performed at NSLS-II will probe the fundamental structure of novel materials and help drive the development of low-cost, low-carbon energy technologies, spark advances in environmental science, and spur medical breakthroughs,” Moniz said.

The NSLS-II will produce extremely intense beams of x-ray, ultraviolet, and infrared light, allowing researchers—including biologists, chemists, and environmental scientists—to peer into the nanoscale, probing the properties of materials at resolutions approaching 10 nanometers. Scientists will use the facility to study high-temperature superconductors, next-generation silicon chips, and biological proteins on the smallest scales. The NSLS-II will be 10,000 times as bright as its predecessor, the National Synchrotron Light Source, which ran for more than 30 years.

The NSLS-II began commissioning in October and is slowly ramping up to full speed. Researchers will conduct their first studies using the facility's seven available beamlines, but engineers plan to add 25 additional beamlines over the next 5 years. Although the construction of NSLS-II and its initial beamlines were supported by DOE's Basic Energy Sciences program, funding for additional beamlines will come from other agencies, including DOE’s Biological and Environmental Research program, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. When fully complete the facility will support more than 4000 users each year with up to 70 beamlines.

Initial data from the machine are looking very promising, said NSLS-II Director John Hill. “It’s a gorgeous machine,” he said. “People are just so excited to see all their hard work pay off.”