Sandia LabNews

CINT gets DOE go-ahead

Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies gets $75 million DOE go-ahead

Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories will jointly receive more than $75 million for design and construction of the practical yet visionary joint Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT).

DOE’s Office of Science approved funding in July for the national user facility that will permit university, industry, and government researchers to explore and develop the rapidly emerging field of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is used to build materials and devices on the scale of atoms and molecules. Among its advantages are smaller components, more precise functionality, lower energy requirements, and reduced waste and exploitation of natural resources. Innovations from this field are expected by many scientists to expedite improvements in drug discovery and health, computing, transportation, and manufacturing.

Two new buildings will include a joint core facility in Albuquerque just north of Sandia. A smaller building will be built in Los Alamos to serve as a gateway. Sandia, for its gateway — distinct from the core facility — will use space in Bldg. 897. Through these facilities, researchers from industry and universities will enjoy access not only to the equipment of CINT but also to the resources of the two huge labs.

Among the Center’s distinctive features:

  • Half the researchers will come from industry and universities, chosen on the basis of scientific review of proposed projects.
  • There will be no charges for visitors to use this facility.
  • Core facility will be located outside the classified boundary to promote open access and scientific collaboration.
  • Research scientists in chemistry, physics, biology, and computers will work together under one roof.
  • A vast array of scientific equipment, some available nowhere else in the world, will be made available to researchers. Examples include an atom tracker that records the movement of atoms in realtime and provides videos of atoms distributing themselves on a surface, and a Magnetic Resonance Force Microscope that performs the equivalent of a medical Magnetic Resonance Imager on the scale of individual molecules.

Both laboratories have a large amount of work already ongoing in the micron realm, which is about a thousand times larger than nano. (A length of 70 microns is the approximate diameter of a human hair.) Already ongoing work at the micron level is expected to help leverage work at the nanoscale by providing both tools and goals for nanostructures.