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Brookhaven National Laboratory

Brookhaven National Laboratory

K. LEE LERNER

Founded in 1947, Brookhaven National Laboratory is operated for the U.S. Department of Energy by Brookhaven Science Associates, a non-profit research company.

At Brookhaven, a staff of approximately 3,000 scientists, engineers, and technical support staff work alongside an additional 4,000 scientists and engineers who annually visit the facilities located on Long Island, New York.

Although research at Brookhaven impacts both basic science and national security related science issues, following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Brookhaven established an interdisciplinary working group to tackle specific issues related to counter-terrorism. The focus of the group is to oversee the development of technologies devoted to prediction, detection, and preemption, of terrorism.

An important component of Brookhaven projects is the development of sensors useful in detecting nuclear, chemical, and biological agents. For example, highly sensitive chemical sensors can detect explosives, and radiation detectors are useful in detecting contact with nuclear materials. Highly sensitive detectors are capable of measuring trace amounts in concentrations so small that the sensors can provide evidence of prior contact with suspect materialseven if the materials are no longer physically present.

Facilities at Brookhaven include a thermal neutron imaging camera that can detect radiation source emanation at distances up to approximately 200 feet. In addition, Brookhaven sensor systems utilize a number of physical propertiesfrom laserscattering patterns to microwave probesto interrogate unknown materials.

Biotechnology research at Brookhaven includes the development of vaccines to combat the deleterious effects of a broad spectrum of biological weapons and chemical

nerve gas agents. Antidote treatment research includes the development of topical creams that contain enzymes capable of degrading nerve agents.

To facilitate rescue of individuals in debris of collapsed buildings, Brookhaven engineers designed devices to help remove debris and to image debris fields. Magnetic imaging equipment can locate damaged structural elements (e.g., iron girders) and allow rescue personnel to evaluate structural integrity and identify possible areas of survival.

Brookhaven scientists and engineers developed the Mini-Raman Lidar System (MRLS) that is capable of detecting trace amounts of dangerous chemicals (including illegal narcotics and other drugs). Laser scattering devices can also detect distinct chemical profiles or "fingerprints." MRLS allows investigators to detect those chemical associated with the processing of nuclear fuels. Because MRLS is highly sensitive, inspectors can examine questionable objects from safer distances. In many cases, MRLS can accurately detect trace molecules at distances ranging from three to ten feet. Given the proper environmental controls, MRLS can detect trace molecules at far greater distances.

Another recent national security related project at Brookhaven National Laoratory involved the development of the Large-Volume Radiation Detector that uses compressed xenon as part of a portable, battery powered, room-temperature spectrometer unit. The spectrometer is very sensitive and offers high discrimination and resolution at levels that allow investigators the ability to distinguish between isotopes used in medical products and those associated with prohibited nuclear activities. Investigators are hopeful that the success of the small scale detector will allow construction of larger units using similar technology that are capable of rapidly examining large cargo loads (e.g., bulk cargoes at truck terminals, ports, etc.) at safer "standoff" distances.

Other research facilities include a relativistic heavy ion collider, alternating gradient synchrotron, synchrotron light source, tandem Van de Graaff accelerators, high-field MRI, positron emission tomograpahy (PET) facilities, transmission electron (TEM) and scanning (SEM) electron microscopes, a laser electron accelerator facility (LEAF), and other accelerator test facilities including 60-inch and 40-inch cyclotrons.

FURTHER READING:

ELECTRONIC:

United States Department of Energy, Office of Science. National Laboratories and User Facilities. <http://www.sc.doe.gov/Sub/Organization/Map/national_labs_and_userfacilities.htm> (March 23, 2003).

United States Department of Homeland Security. Research & Technology. <http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?theme=27&content=374> (March 23, 2003).

Brookhaven National Laboratory. March 26, 2003. <http://www.bnl.gov/world/> (April 2, 2003).

SEE ALSO

Argonne National Laboratory
DOE (United States Department of Energy)
Environmental Measurements Laboratory
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)
Los Alamos National Laboratory
NNSA (United States National Nuclear Security Administration)
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Plum Island Animal Disease Center
Sandia National Laboratories

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Brookhaven National Laboratory

Brookhaven National Laboratory, scientific research center, at Upton (town of Brookhaven), Long Island, N.Y. It was founded in 1947 by Associated Universities, a management corporation sponsored by nine eastern U.S. universities. The corporation ran the laboratory under a contract with the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) until 1997, when safety problems led the DOE to replace it. Brookhaven conducts multidisciplinary scientific work, e.g., studies of atomic nuclei and human genetics, investigations of the effects and uses of nuclear radiation, and research and development in nuclear technology. The laboratory's equipment includes nuclear reactors and particle accelerators. The facilities also include a center for work in nuclear medicine. Students from universities around the world work at the laboratory.

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Brookhaven National Laboratory

BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LABORATORY

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and one of ten national laboratories, Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) carries out research and development in four main areas: basic science and applied technology, environmental quality, national security, and energy resources. The lab accomplishes this research and development (R&D) mission by designing, constructing, and operating some of the world's largest and most sophisticated research facilities for scientists across the country and around the world; by carrying out long-term programs of basic and applied research; by advancing technology and transferring it to industry; and by educating future scientists.

In July 1946, a consortium of nine universities in the northeastern United States banded together to form Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), which contracted with the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to build and operate BNL for the scientific community as a national educational and scientific resource. This unique contractual arrangement was later copied by other national and international laboratories in the United States and abroad. The lab opened in 1947. Its first major generation of large instruments included the Cosmotron (1952-1966), which for a while was the world's most powerful particle accelerator; the Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor (BGRR, 1950-1969), the first reactor built specifically for peacetime research; and the Brookhaven Medical Research Reactor (BMRR, 1959-2000), the first reactor built specifically for medical research. The lab's second generation of large instruments included the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS, completed 1960) and the High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR, 1965-2000). Starting in 1972, BNL attempted to build a new large particle accelerator, ISABELLE, but problems with the superconducting magnets delayed the project, and in 1983 the DOE (the AEC's successor agency) canceled the project—the laboratory's single biggest failure. In 1997, following discovery of radioactive contamination from the HFBR, the DOE fired AUI as the lab's contractor and replaced it with Brookhaven Science Associates, a new company established by the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (on behalf of SUNY Stony Brook) and Battelle Memorial Institute.

A world-renowned scientific leader and national resource since its inception, Brookhaven is home to four Nobel Prize–winning discoveries in physics: 1957, for the 1956 theory of parity nonconservation, which explains the difference between the real world and its mirror opposite; 1976, for the co-discovery, in 1974, of the J/ψ particle, the first known particle to contain a charmed quark; 1980, for the 1964 discovery of CP violation, which accounts for the predominance of matter over antimatter in the universe; and 1988, for the 1962 discovery of the muon neutrino, as distinguished from the already known electron neutrino.

In the life sciences, Brookhaven has pioneered research in positron emission tomography (PET), exploring the link between dopamine and addiction thanks to a Brookhaven-developed medical tracer used worldwide to diagnose cancer, brain disease, psychiatric illnesses, and heart disease. Other tracers developed at BNL include technitium-99m, the medical radiotracer employed in 85 percent of the world's nuclear medicine procedures; and thallium-201, used worldwide in stress tests of the human heart. Brookhaven's medical breakthroughs also include establishment of the quantitative connection between salt and hypertension, which resulted in the elimination of salt in baby foods and recommendations restricting salt intake; use of L-dopa for relief of Parkinson's disease symptoms; and synthesis of the first human insulin for use by diabetics, replacing the use of animal insulin.

Still other important Brookhaven discoveries involved machine design: the alternating gradient principle, used in all modern high-energy accelerators; the undermoderated core used in all high-flux reactors; and the magnet arrangement or "lattice" used in all modern synchrotron sources. Brookhaven scientists developed the first video game as a toy for visitors (1958) and were awarded a patent for magnetically levitated, or "maglev," trains (1968).

Brookhaven draws about $450 million in federal dollars to New York State and attracts over 4,000 scientists per year to its facilities. These include the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), commissioned in 2000 as the world's newest and largest accelerator for nuclear physics research into the structure of matter that existed moments after the Big Bang; the National Synchrotron Light Source, commissioned in 1982, which has become one of the world's most widely used facilities due to its ability to provide very bright beams of X rays and other light to look at molecular structure and function in physical and biological materials; the AGS, the accelerator that produced three of the lab's four Nobel Prizes and the only U.S. heavyion accelerator used in experiments to determine the biological effects of space travel; and the Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope, one of three in the world to image individual heavy atoms. RHIC has recently been upgraded to conduct polarized proton research. Future programs at Brookhaven include a nanoscience center.

See also:Benefits OF Particle Physics TO Society; Funding OF Particle Physics

Bibliography

Brookhaven National Laboratory. <http://www.bnl.gov>.

Crease, R. P. Making Physics: A Biography of Brookhaven National Laboratory 1946–1972 (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1999).

Robert P. Crease

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