Argonne Breaks Ground on New Facility

Construction is under way at Argonne National Laboratory (CSA CSM) on the final building of its Energy Quad, a group of four adjoining buildings designed to maximize collaboration between energy and materials scientists. The new Materials Design Laboratory will allow scientists to discover new materials, understand how they work and put them to use—everything from designing tailored superconductors to transform the nation’s energy grid to developing better materials for wind turbines and finding potential replacements for silicon in next-generation computers.

“In this new facility, researchers will combine molecules in ways that have never been done before,” says Argonne Director Peter Littlewood. “Discoveries made here will drive breakthroughs that enable improvements in the safety and performance of consumer technologies and accelerate the creation of innovations that will promote global progress.”

At the MDL, researchers will investigate structures at scales all the way from a single electron on up. Scientists at the MDL will also study the interfaces where molecules come together in new materials and they will be able to test the properties of a wide range of materials under extreme conditions.

“Science at the MDL is driven by bridging scientific disciplines,” Littlewood says. “In this new facility, Argonne researchers will work with one another and partners from outside the lab in order to deepen our understanding of the properties of different materials and discover solutions to pressing societal challenges.”

The MDL will encompass roughly 115,000 square feet of laboratory and office space, including 10,000 square feet of lab space for radiological research, where scientists can work safely with radiological isotopes to determine relevance to new energy technologies.

The MDL was designed with sustainability in mind, and is in line to receive LEED Gold certification from the US Green Buildings Council. The building contains high-efficiency lighting, recycled materials, energy recovery systems and other green construction features. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 2, and its construction is expected to generate approximately 2,375 jobs.