US Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced some great news when he visited Brookhaven National Laboratory for the first time this week. 

Joining government and lab officials in Upton on Monday, March 23, Dr. Chu confirmed that BNL will receive $184.3 million in federal stimulus money.  Much of this funding, about $150 million, will be used to construct new buildings for BNL’s latest project, the $912 million National Synchrotron Light Source II, with remaining monies used for other building upgrades and lab equipment.

Upon completion, NSLSII will be the most powerful light source in the world, some ten thousand times brighter than NSLSI, which currently operates at BNL. According to Newsday and lab sources, NSLSII will produce high-intensity bright beams of X-rays, ultraviolet light and infrared light used for ultra-microscopic medical, energy and materials research.  It can study objects one-billionth of a meter long.

Potential applications for NSLSII research include helping to create materials that can split water with sunlight to produce hydrogen; help in the development of faster and cheaper electronics that consume less power; and help in harvesting solar energy at high efficiency and low cost.

In very realistic terms, NSLSII will create jobs, possibly more than 1,000, with about 200 in the construction field almost immediately, and about 400 technical and research positions remaining on site after completion. 

Construction for NSLSII will begin this spring, with perhaps some very high level government participation at the ground-breaking ceremony.  Completion is slated for 2015, but lab officials are optimistic that it may be finished earlier, perhaps by 2014, thanks in part to this funding.

Dr. Chu’s visit and announcement came just a few days after the Middle Island Civic Association hosted BNL’s Marcia Belford at its March meeting.  Ms. Belford gave MICA members an excellent overview of the lab’s role in world reknowned research as well as its colorful local history.  Following this presentation, several MICA members expressed interest in touring our important eastern neighbor,  either on a BNL Summer Sunday visit or a MICA-sponsored field trip.

Leave a Comment