US Secretary of Energy Dedicates NSLS-II, the Most Advanced Light Source in the World

The U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, dedicated the world’s most advanced light source, the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) at Brookhaven National Laboratory earlier this month. Designed by HDR, the facility generates some of the brightest beams in the world used for research in energy, environmental science and medicine. Ahmad Soueid, project director, Greg Wells, Desiree Mervau, Dylan Coonrad and Paula Brammier attended from HDR.

Nearly a half-mile in circumference, NSLS-II is large enough to encircle Yankee Stadium. The $912-million facility (including the beam-line magnets and scientific equipment) will provide scientists with the world’s finest capabilities for x-ray imaging—delivering the brightest and most intense x-rays in the world. NSLS-II generates light by accelerating a beam of electrons around a huge “ring” building at 99 percent of the speed of light and is designed to deliver brightness and flux at a resolution so clear that even a single atom will be identifiable.

By studying the geometry of the ‘machine,’ a structural grid was developed with column lines angled at three degrees apart. This mirrors the angle of the accelerator beamline as it bends, while passing the various magnets in the storage tunnel. The geometry of the conventional facilities mirrors that of the accelerator. More than simply a building with labs inside, this 600,000 square-foot facility looks like, feels like and functions as a machine for science. Through the unique structural design and vibration isolating features integrated into the facility, the design mitigates vibration to no more than 25 nanometers vibration in any direction—1,000 times more sensitive than what the human finger can feel.

The experimental floor with the beauty and elegance of the exposed, precise engineering, as well as the sheer volume, creates a sense of awe. It is a spectacular, active hub of science — and a tribute to innovative and meticulous engineering.