An aerial view of the NSLS-II construction site.
Construction of the $912-million National Synchrotron Light
Source II (NSLS-II) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory
is more than 70% complete—on schedule and on budget. When operational in 2015,
NSLS-II will enable unprecedented studies aimed at designing new materials for
efficient energy generation and storage, building better catalysts, and
engineering new kinds of electronics and medicines.
On April 26, 2012, Brookhaven Laboratory celebrated two major
construction milestones—completion of the massive ring building and
commissioning of the light source’s linear accelerator.
“This is an exciting time for the project,” said Steve Dierker,
NSLS-II Project Director and Associate Laboratory Director for Photon Sciences. “With the ring building complete, we are moving quickly to install the
accelerator and start bringing in components for the experimental stations.”
Torcon, Inc., the general contractor for the ring building,
began work in April 2009 under a $170-million contract, the single largest
contract in the NSLS-II construction project. Torcon spent about 90% of its
contract to hire subcontractors and suppliers on Long Island and in the region,
bringing direct economic benefit to Long Island and New York State.
Over the course of construction and operation, NSLS-II is expected to create
more than 1,250 construction jobs, most from local labor unions, as well as 450
scientific, engineering, and support jobs.
Construction of the ring building was done in five sections, the
first completed in March 2011 and the final section in February 2012, when
Brookhaven Laboratory took official occupancy of the building. The Laboratory
has started installing equipment and components for the facility’s accelerator
and experimental stations.
The NSLS-II accelerator will consist of three sections: a linear
accelerator, or linac, where electrons are generated and accelerated to 200
million electron volts; a booster, which takes electrons from the linac and
speeds them up to 3 billion electron volts; and a storage ring, where the
electrons circulate to create synchrotron light in the form of X-rays. These X-rays
are directed to experimental stations around the ring, where they will be used
to probe the structure and function of everything from solar cells to cellular
Installation of the linac was completed in February and
commissioning started at the end of March. During commissioning, workers will
bring the linac to its designed operational parameters in a safe way.
On April 26, Brookhaven Laboratory suspended construction
activities in the building for a “Celebration of Jobs Well Done” event. The
Laboratory community took a first-time opportunity to walk all the way around
the half-mile ring, following the clockwise path electrons will eventually take
around the accelerator tunnel.
Groundbreaking for NSLS-II was in 2009. That same year, in large
part because it was “shovel-ready,” the NSLS-II project received $150 million
from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That early infusion of dollars—not
affecting the total project cost—enabled the Brookhaven National Laboratory to
accelerate conventional construction.
NSLS-II will provide sophisticated new tools that will allow
scientists to see materials at the scale of a nanometer, or one billionth of a
meter—a capability not available at any other light source in the world.
Working at the nanoscale, researchers will focus on some of the nation’s most
important scientific challenges, including developing novel materials for clean
and affordable energy production, molecular electronics, and high-temperature