Building for Discovery
Quiet Wing to Make Big Noise in Scientific Circles
When EMSL Chief Operating Officer Monty Rosbach looks out his office window, he sees more than an expanse of grassy lawn and rows of stately sycamore trees. He has visions of top researchers from around the world collaborating on scientific discoveries in a new, state-of-the-art building and analyzing samples with cutting-edge microscopy. This vision is of the new EMSL Quiet Wing, the construction of which broke ground in January 2011.
EMSL’s newest facility will be built to reduce to a near-minimum the vibrations, acoustics, and electromagnetics that can interfere with the resolution of scientific instrumentation. The Quiet Wing will benefit a broad spectrum of research including geochemistry, microbiology, fuel cell research, and catalysis. Rosbach says he won’t miss the view.
Take an interactive look at the new EMSL Quiet Wing.
The addition is much more than just another construction project on the growing campus of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where EMSL is located. Scheduled to open in January 2012, the 9,500-square-foot wing will feature eight quiet laboratory cells with a sample preparation room. The $7.9 million facility is funded programmatically through DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded much of the new instrumentation.
“The ‘Q-Wing’ is really a research project itself,” said Rosbach, who led a team that studied similar facilities throughout the United States and Europe to learn what works well and what doesn’t. “This was critical, because each new generation of instrumentation has more stringent requirements for optimal performance.”
Meeting next-generation needs
As a result of this effort, Rosbach believes that EMSL’s Q-Wing will be among the world’s most advanced vibrationally, acoustically, and electromagnetically quiet laboratories—an ideal environment for six to eight high-performance microscopy and spectroscopy instruments.
“At EMSL, we take great pride in making the very best scientific instruments available to our researchers. Now we will make them available in a one-of-a-kind facility.”
For example, there are only a few aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope systems, and only one aberration-corrected environmental transmission electron microscope system, in the United States. At EMSL’s Q-Wing, samples can be easily exchanged between these two instruments—a unique capability that allows high-resolution environmental studies and atomic-level analysis.
EMSL’s scientific instruments and staff expertise are available to the world’s top researchers, who submit user proposals to conduct cutting-edge research at no cost for openly published research. Rosbach anticipates the Q-Wing will maintain high demand for EMSL capabilities in research fields that range from geochemistry, microbiology, spintronics, and fuel cell research to catalysis and oxide interface analysis.
“Our goal is to offer our users the best possible equipment in the most productive research environment,” he said.
Start spreading the news
Word of the new Q-Wing is creating a buzz in the research community, says Scott Lea, microscopy capability lead for EMSL.
“EMSL’s Quiet Wing is designed specifically to meet the needs of researchers and allow cutting-edge equipment to operate with optimal resolution,” he said. “There are very few facilities in the world that offer this suite of capabilities – all under one roof.
“The ability to give researchers access to a set of new, state-of-the–art electron microscopy and scanning instrumentation in one location is significant.”
Lea also emphasized EMSL’s staff expertise. “We have staff members who are accomplished scientists themselves, ready and available to assist visiting scientists on these instruments and imaging systems. Moreover, they will work with users to tailor their research to get the most out of the Quiet Wing capabilities,” he said.
“This expertise is very important to the success of our user program.”
For Rosbach, the potential scientific impact of the Quiet Wing more than makes up for an obstructed view from his office window.
Released: January 13, 2011