Office of Science

About EMSL

EMSL's Mission: EMSL, a national scientific user facility at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, provides integrated experimental and computational resources for discovery and technological innovation in the environmental molecular sciences to support the needs of DOE and the nation.

Director's Message

Photo of EMSL Director Allison Campbell

The Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy national scientific user facility, opened its doors to research on October 1, 1997. Since then, researchers worldwide have benefited from EMSL's resources, which include unique and state-of-the-art capabilities as well as onsite experts who are available for collaboration. The mix of world-class capabilities and onsite expertise under one roof makes EMSL a true problem-solving environment.

I invite you to look through our website to see what capabilities are available to our users, to read about the science that is conducted in our facility, and to find out how you, too, can become a user.

Allison A. Campbell, Director

Read the latest Director's Message in EMSL's quarterly Newsletter the Molecular Bond.

EMSL is funded by DOE's Office of Biological & Environmental Research, and supports its mission to provide innovative solutions to the nation's environmental and energy production challenges in areas such as atmospheric aerosols, feedstocks, global carbon cycling, biogeochemistry, subsurface science, and energy materials. Bringing together experts and state-of-the-art instruments critical to their research under one roof, EMSL has helped thousands of researchers use a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to solve some of the most important national challenges in energy, environmental sciences, and human health. These challenges cover a wide range of research, including synthesis, characterization, theory and modeling, dynamical properties, and environmental testing.

EMSL was the concept of former PNNL Director, Dr. William R. Wiley who knew that understanding systems at the molecular level is imperative to tackle our nation's energy and environmental challenges (learn more about Dr. Wiley and the "The Birth of a National User Facility"). Since opening its doors in 1997 on the grounds of PNNL in Richland, Washington, scientific users from academia, industry, and other national laboratories representing all 50 states and nearly 30 countries have applied EMSL resources to their research. EMSL offers these scientists access to instruments—otherwise unavailable to many scientists at their home institutions—to further their scientific studies. All resources housed within EMSL are available at no cost to researchers if their research results are shared in the open literature. Access to EMSL resources is awarded on a peer-reviewed proposal basis. Researchers are encouraged to take advantage of the full complement of tools available and employ unique combinations of equipment and capabilities within EMSL. To become an EMSL user, follow the User Access steps to submit a proposal centered around EMSL's Science Themes, which represent growing areas of research.

Unparalleled Capabilities

EMSL's unparalleled collection of computational and experimental Capabilities allows researchers to tackle scientific challenges from all angles. EMSL experts create new tools, tailor existing instruments, and upgrade the instrument collection to meet researchers evolving needs. Brief detail about some of EMSL's flagship capabilities follows.

EMSL's current supercomputer, Cascade, is designed specifically to solve large computational chemistry and biochemistry problems that combine computation with experiment and theory. Cascade, at 3.4 petaflops, provides faster time to solution to researchers worldwide.
Mass spectrometers
EMSL's suite of mass spectrometers includes a mass spectrometer equipped with a powerful 12-Tesla magnet, which allows researchers to measure changes in the entire complement of proteins expressed in cells. An ongoing effort between EMSL and PNNL will yield mass spectrometry resources for the much higher throughput, next-generation proteomics measurement platform.
Nuclear magnetic-resonance spectrometers (NMR)
Ranging from 300 MHz to 850 MHz, EMSL's NMR spectrometers provide capabilities in high-field liquid-state, solid-state, and micro-imaging techniques. NMR customizations allow users to perform specialized measurements, such as for metabolomics studies.
Surface science tools
EMSL's collection of surface characterization and deposition instruments allows researchers to study and design materials at the atomic and molecular scales.
Subsurface flow and transport tools
A variety of flow cells and high-precision analytical instruments at EMSL allow users to measure, model, and predict the fate and transport of environmental contaminants.

Unrivaled Expertise

EMSL staff and scientific consultants are experts in chemical, physical, biological, and computational sciences. They have received numerous prestigious awards, have been named to society fellowships, have received many patents, and publish in high-impact journals.

Guggenheim Foundation, American Chemical Society, R&D 100 Awards, Federal Laboratory Consortium Awards, Discover Awards, DOE Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and various mentorship awards
American Physical Society, American Vacuum Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Materials Research Society
More than 100 patents in 15 years.
In FY13 more than 411 EMSL Users and EMSL Staff peer-reviewed papers were published, with 53% of the publications in top-10 journals.