NIST Opens Two New Labs

Both are located in Boulder, Colo. The dedication ceremonies took place April 13.

Two advanced laboratory buildings at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) campus, for high-precision science and measurements, were dedicated April 13 in Boulder, Colo.

State and local government officials, university leaders, and Nobel laureates attended the dedication at the new Precision Measurement Laboratory and the new X-Wing, which is a joint venture of NIST and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

"Both new laboratories tightly control environmental conditions such as vibration and temperature, as is required for cutting-edge research with lasers, atomic clocks, nanotechnology and other areas of study at NIST and JILA," according to NIST's news release. "Both new buildings also have capabilities for micro- and nanofabrication of custom research devices."

Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher cut the ribbon to open the lab. It will house some of NIST's best-known experiments, including the U.S. civilian standard atomic clock.

"This laboratory is at the heart of making sure that NIST Boulder has the capabilities it needs to carry out its critical mission," Gallagher said. "The work that's done here is central to the role of NIST. The work done here on atomic clocks, on voltage standards, on quantum computing, on detectors — this is the essence of NIST's role to define and implement a system of measurement to the benefit of the United States. And it's a mission that is as fresh today as it was in 1901, when this agency was first founded. So I think our best is still to come, and it's exciting to know we'll have a home like this in which to do it.

"JILA started out, frankly, as a unique experiment 50 years ago, a pioneering partnership bringing together federal scientists and university researchers within the same organization," Gallagher said. "It's been an experiment that has had remarkable success, beyond even the original vision of the founders. It's been so successful, in fact, it has served as a model for all other successful university/government partnerships, not just at NIST, but also at a number of other agencies and universities."

JILA/NIST Fellow and Nobel laureate Eric Cornell was master of ceremonies for the X-Wing dedication. "JILA was a victim of its own success. We really needed to expand, we really needed to modernize, we really needed the X-Wing," he said.

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