New X-ray, light-source and rare-isotope projects get underway in Europe and US

On 21 July federal research minister Annette Schavan, Hamburg's science senator Herlind Gundelach and Schleswig-Holstein's research minister Jörn Biel met at the DESY research centre in Hamburg to sign an agreement for participation in the European XFEL X-ray facility. With €90 million, the federal states Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein will cover nearly 16% of Germany's contribution to the project (CERN Courier July/August 2007 p9).

The three politicians cemented this investment symbolically by laying the cornerstone for a test hall. In 2011 the new hall will be the site for intense functional tests of the facility's superconducting accelerator modules at –271°C. After the tests, the 12 m-long modules, each weighing 10 tonnes, will be transferred to the main tunnel of the X-ray facility to be assembled into a 1.7 km-long electron accelerator.

In the US, a month earlier, senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and congressman Tim Bishop joined representatives from the Brookhaven National Laboratory, the US Department of Energy (DOE), Battelle, and Stony Brook University on 15 June as they put shovels to the ground to commemorate the start of construction for the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) at Brookhaven. The project received $150 million earlier this year through the American Recovery and Re-investment Act to speed up the construction of the state-of-the-art research facility, which will create jobs and stimulate the local economy.

With construction now underway, the NSLS-II is scheduled to start operating in 2015. It will provide researchers with extremely bright beams of X-ray, ultraviolet and infrared light to study the ultrasmall structures and properties of a variety of materials and biological samples for studies in energy, environmental science and medicine among many other fields.

Michigan State University (MSU) announced the signing of a co-operative agreement with the DOE on 6 June concerning the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). The pact, an important milestone towards establishing the FRIB project, provides the instrument for the DOE Office of Science to provide financial assistance for MSU to design and establish the new facility.

The FRIB will be a DOE National User Facility within the department's Office of Nuclear Physics portfolio, located on the MSU campus. The centrepiece of the new facility will be a superconducting linear accelerator that will produce rare-isotope beams (CERN Courier July/August 2008 p15). While the FRIB is under construction, MSU will continue to operate the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory as a National User Facility, funded by a co-operative agreement with the National Science Foundation.


LHC rap

Rapper Alpinekat is helping put the science behind the FRIB (see main text) on the map with a new rap about nuclear physics commissioned by MSU. The physics alumnus from MSU made headlines last year with her LHC rap, which has already been seen more than 5 million times on YouTube.
Image credit: MSU.

• For the "Rare-isotope rap", see www.youtube.com/watch?v=677ZmPEFIXE.