Argonne National Laboratory is one of the U.S. Department of Energy's largest research centers. It is also the nation's first national laboratory, chartered in 1946.
Argonne is a direct descendant of the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory, part of the World War Two Manhattan Project. It was at the Met Lab where, on Dec. 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi and his band of about 50 colleagues created the world's first controlled nuclear chain reaction in a racquets court at the University of Chicago. After the war, Argonne was given the mission of developing nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes. Over the years, Argonne's research expanded to include many other areas of science, engineering and technology. Argonne is not and never has been a weapons laboratory.
Today, the laboratory has about 2,900 employees, including about 1,000 scientists and engineers, of whom about 750 hold doctorate degrees. Argonne's annual operating budget of about $475 million supports upwards of 200 research projects, ranging from studies of the atomic nucleus to global climate change research. Since 1990, Argonne has worked with more than 600 companies and numerous federal agencies and other organizations.
Argonne occupies 1,500 wooded acres in DuPage County, Ill. The site is surrounded by forest preserve about 25 miles southwest of Chicago's Loop. The site also houses the U.S. Department of Energy's Chicago Operations Office.