NIST awards $24M in grants for new research facilities

27-Nov-2008 - USA

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced that it is awarding grants totaling more than $24 million to three universities to provide cost-shared support for the construction of new scientific research facilities. The winning projects were chosen from 93 applicants in a special competition announced last spring. The three awards include:

- $10.98 million to the University of California at Berkeley for the build-out and outfitting of a Center for Integrated Precision and Quantum Measurement, part of a larger project to construct a new building for the school’s physics and astronomy departments;

- $11.998 million to the University of California at San Diego for the construction of a Marine Ecosystem Sensing, Observation and Modeling (MESOM) Laboratory at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and

- $1.267 million to the University of Florida for the construction of an Aquatic Animal Health Facility, an expansion of a planned new Aquatic Pathobiology Laboratory.

The special construction grants program was called for under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-161). It provides cost-shared funding for the construction of new buildings or the expansion of existing buildings for the sciences as they relate to the mission of the Department of Commerce and its agencies, including NIST, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The awards were determined on the basis of a competition open to institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations. Proposals were evaluated on the scientific and technical merits of the proposal, the quality of the design of the proposed facility and the adequacy of a project execution plan that includes project scope, schedule, budget, management and financial support for the project. Selections also were based on the degree to which the proposed project complemented Commerce Department programs in science and technology.

The CIPQM is intended to provide a state-of-the-art, high-stability, low-noise research facility for precision and quantum-level measurements. Planned research areas include the application of atomically resolved microscopy to operating nanoscale devices to observe dynamic processes and extremely rapid transient events at the nanoscale; quantum nanomechanics, an emerging discipline focused on the measurement and control of mechanical properties of nanostructures; interferometry with ultracold atoms, with applications ranging from basic research on fundamental physics to ultra-high precision gyroscopes and gravitational field detectors; solid-state magnetometers and amplifiers at the quantum limit, a precision measurement field with many applications in physics, earth exploration and medical devices that sense faint magnetic fields; and advanced optical metrology techniques at the nanoscale. These areas strongly complement existing quantum-level research programs at NIST.

The new center will be housed in an underground facility located in New Campbell Hall, a research building scheduled to begin construction on the UC Berkeley campus. The facility will offer a low-vibration environment, low electromagnetic radiation interference, low acoustic noise, and temperature stability unmatched by other facilities at the university. The NIST funding will enable the university to build out the space allocated for the center with critically needed infrastructure.

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