The Spallation Neutron Source, the Department of Energy's $1.4
billion research facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has
established a new record as the world's most powerful accelerator based
source of neutrons for scientific research.
The SNS surpassed the previous record for beam power 160
kilowatts, held by the United Kingdom's ISIS facility, while operating
at 183 kilowatts. As the SNS ramps up toward an eventual 1.4 megawatts
of power, the beams will produce up to 10 times more neutrons than any
existing pulsed neutron source.
A trio of Tennessee lawmakers - Sen. Lamar Alexander
(R-Maryville), Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Murfreesboro) and Rep. Zach Wamp
(R-Chattanooga) - joined ORNL Director Thom Mason and laboratory staff
in Oak Ridge for the announcement of the record.
Mason said ORNL’s world record “will
provide scientists with an unprecedented ability to analyze and
understand the molecular structures and behaviors responsible for the
properties of advanced materials. As we learn how to make materials
stronger, lighter, or cheaper, we can help American industry develop an
unlimited variety of new products.”
As examples, Mason said new materials might make it possible
to design lighter airplanes that fly with less fuel or bridges that are
more resistant to stress and fracture.
Pat Dehmer, the Department of Energy’s Associate
Director of Science for Basic Energy Sciences, called the new record
“another remarkable accomplishment by the SNS team, which
completed the construction of this world-leading facility just over one
year ago on time and within budget.”
Sen. Alexander hailed the SNS’s new record as an
example of the opportunities that may come from the America COMPETES
(Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in
Technology, Education and Science) Act, a bipartisan measure recently
signed into law by President Bush.
Today’s announcement also supports President
Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative announced in 2006,
which supports investments in the next generation of scientists,
engineers and educators to sustain America’s role at the
forefront of science and innovation.
The field of neutron scattering science is one example of a
technological edge lost and regained. Neutron scattering was developed
in Oak Ridge in the wake of the Manhattan Project. In the following
decades, larger and more powerful neutron sources were built in Europe
and Asia, often forcing U.S. researchers to go abroad to perform their
The SNS's re-establishment of the United States' leadership in
neutron scattering means that now many of the world's top researchers
will be coming to Tennessee to conduct groundbreaking research.