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BRIEF: U.S. to Expand Neutron Science Facility

BRIEF: U.S. to Expand Neutron Science Facility

Oak Ridge National Laboratory has released reports on plans to expand a major scientific research facility -- the Spallation Neutron Source.

Oak-Ridge.jpg

Artist's rendition of the planned Second Target Station of the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Image credits:

Courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 15:30

Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer

(Inside Science) -- Oak Ridge National Laboratory, located in Tennessee, has recently released several reports for its plans to expand a major basic research facility -- the Spallation Neutron Source.

Advanced neutron facilities are currently under construction in Europe and China, and the expansion plans indicate a U.S. attempt to investing in remaining globally competitive in the field. They will do this by building a Second Target Station as an addition to the current Spallation Neutron Source and the existing First Target Station.

Neutron sources are essential to many fields of fundamental scientific research, from the study of functional materials such as batteries and solar cells, to biological molecules such as antibodies and proteins. They play an important role in applied sciences as well as industrial and commercial research, with uses ranging from the measurement of stress in commercial airplane wings to the inspection of details inside valuable artifacts in archaeological studies.

According to the report, the conceptual design for the Second Target Station is now in development and initial funding has started as of January 2016. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has not yet announced a definite timeline for the construction.

(Disclosure: Yuen Yiu worked as a graduate researcher in condensed matter physics at Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 2009 to 2015.)

Editor's note (12/2/2016): This story has been edited to clarify the status of the conceptual design.

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Yuen Yiu covers the Physics beat for Inside Science. He's a Ph.D. physicist and fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin. Follow Yuen on Twitter: @fromyiutoyou.