The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Patricia Dehmer, Associate Director of DOE’s Office of Science for Basic Energy Sciences, accompanied by U.S. Congressman Timothy Bishop, led a celebration today at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory marking the official opening of the Lab’s new Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN). Scientists from Brookhaven Lab and academic and industrial organizations throughout the northeastern U.S. and other parts of the world will use the CFN’s unique array of tools to explore and develop nanoscale materials aimed at helping the U.S. achieve energy independence. The Office of Basic Energy Sciences within DOE’s Office of Science has funded and built five Nanoscale Science Research Centers at national laboratories around the country.
Addressing the nation’s energy needs is the primary scientific focus of the CFN.
“Breakthroughs in the effective use of renewable energy through improved energy conversion, transmission, and storage are key to overcoming our nation’s reliance on imported fossil fuels and attaining energy independence in the long term,” said DOE’s Under Secretary for Science Raymond L. Orbach. “The study and design of materials at the nanoscale has the potential to address these significant challenges, so this is an exciting time for Brookhaven Lab and for the Department of Energy.”
“The mission of the Office of Science is to invest in basic research designed to bring transformational breakthroughs for our nation thereby securing our country’s future,” said Dehmer. “Sustaining America’s scientific competitiveness involves providing cutting-edge scientific facilities such as the Center for Functional Nanomaterials that allow scientists from universities and the private sector to do the analysis that will give them an advantage over their colleagues in other countries.”
Said Congressman Bishop, whose district includes Brookhaven Lab, “Our nation can never drill our way to energy independence, but we can research our way there. That’s why the research conducted by Brookhaven National Laboratory is so important. The Center for Functional Nanomaterials is on the front lines of the effort to secure America’s energy independence. As someone who has fought hard in Congress to fund the Lab, I am proud to share this day with so many dedicated and talented men and women. Once again, this proves the adage that what’s good for Brookhaven Lab is good for America.”
The ability to study and manipulate materials at the nanoscale - on the order of billionths of a meter - holds such promise because nanomaterials have different chemical and physical properties than bulk materials. Understanding these properties should allow CFN scientists to tailor materials for specific uses.
Some uses envisioned by scientists at Brookhaven’s CFN include nanostructured catalysts to improve the efficiency of fuel cells and manufacturing processes; technologies based on biological molecules to enhance energy conversion and molecular self-assembly; and new electronic materials to improve solar energy conversion and storage devices. “The combination of the unique tools we are acquiring and the outstanding and committed staff we are hiring makes the CFN a cornerstone of Brookhaven Lab’s strategy to address the country’s energy needs,” said Emilio Mendez, Director of the CFN at Brookhaven.
“The CFN complements Brookhaven’s other facilities and research programs aimed at developing sustainable, renewable energy, and builds on the Laboratory’s long tradition of cross-disciplinary, synergistic research,” said Brookhaven Laboratory Director Samuel Aronson. “Thanks to the support of our elected representatives and the Department of Energy — and the efforts of the CFN construction and support staff - this powerful new facility will foster Brookhaven’s spirit of collaborative research, enabling our researchers and CFN users from around the country and Long Island to make important discoveries.”
Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials also complements the four other DOE Office of Science Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRCs). These facilities will greatly enhance scientists’ ability to investigate the properties of materials at nanoscale dimensions.