Argonne National Laboratory: Wikis


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Argonne National Laboratory
Established 1946
Research Type Research
Field of Research Physical science
Life science
Environmental science
Energy science
Photon science
Director Eric Isaacs
Location Argonne, Illinois
Address 9700 S. Cass Avenue
Telephone (630) 252-2000
Affiliations United States Department of Energy
University of Chicago
Jacobs Engineering
Nobel Laureates Enrico Fermi
Maria Goeppert Mayer
Alexei Alexeyevich Abrikosov
Aerial view of Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne National Laboratory is the first science and engineering research national laboratory in the United States, receiving this designation on July 1, 1946.[1] It is the largest national lab by size and scope in the Midwest. A multipurpose laboratory led by director Eric Isaacs[2], Argonne maintains a broad portfolio in basic science research, energy storage and renewable energy, environmental sustainability, and national security. It is managed for the United States Department of Energy by UChicago Argonne, LLC, which is composed of the University of Chicago and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.[3] Argonne is a part of the expanding Illinois Technology and Research Corridor.

The lab is located on 1,700 acres (6.9 km²) in DuPage County, 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Chicago, Illinois, on Interstate 55, completely encircled by Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. When it was first established it was known as the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory (Met Lab), and it was previously located within Red Gate Woods. Early in its history, the lab was part of the Manhattan Project, which built the first atomic bomb.

Argonne National Laboratory had a smaller facility called Argonne National Laboratory-West (or simply Argonne-West) in Idaho next to the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. In 2005, they merged together to become the Idaho National Laboratory. [4]



One of Argonne's famed white deer.
One of Argonne's famed white deer.

Argonne has five main areas of focus.[5][6] These goals, as stated by the DOE in 2008,[7] consist of:

  • Conducting basic scientific research;
  • Operating national scientific facilities;
  • Enhancing the nation's energy resources;
  • Developing better ways to manage environmental problems;
  • Protecting national security.


  • Hard X-ray Sciences - Argonne is home to one of the world’s largest high-energy light sources: the Advanced Photon Source (APS). Each year, scientists make thousands of discoveries while using the APS to characterize both organic and inorganic materials and even processes, such as how vehicle fuel injectors spray gasoline in engines.[8]
  • Leadership Computing - Argonne maintains one of the fastest computers for open science, the IBM Blue Gene/P supercomputer, and has developed system software for these massive machines. Argonne works to drive the evolution of leadership computing from petascale to exascale, develop new codes and computing environments, and expand computational efforts to help solve scientific challenges. For example, in October 2009, the lab announced that it would be embarking on a joint project to explore cloud computing for scientific purposes.[9]
  • Materials and Molecular Design and Discovery - Argonne scientists work to predict, understand, and control where and how to place individual atoms and molecules to achieve desired material properties. Among other innovations, Argonne scientists helped develop an ice slurry to cool the organs of heart attack victims,[10] described what makes diamonds slippery at the nanoscale level,[11] and discovered a superinsulating material that resists the flow of electric current more completely than any other previous material.[12]
  • Electrical Energy Storage - Argonne develops batteries for electric transportation technology grid storage for intermittent energy sources like wind or solar, and the manufacturing processes for these materials-intensive devices [13]. The lab has been working on advanced battery research and development for over 40 years.[14] In the past 10 years, the lab has focused on lithium-ion batteries, and in September 2009, it announced an initiative to explore and improve their capabilities.[15] Argonne also maintains an independent battery-testing facility, which tests sample batteries from both government and private industry to see how well they perform over time and under heat and cold stresses.[16]
  • Alternative Energy and Efficiency - Argonne develops both chemical and biological fuels tailored for current engines as well as improved combustion schemes for future engine technologies. The lab has also recommended best practices for conserving fuel; for example, a study that recommended installing auxiliary cab heaters for trucks in lieu of idling the engine.[17] Meanwhile, the solar energy research program focuses on solar-fuel and solar-electric devices and systems that are scalable and economically competitive with fossil energy sources.[18] Argonne scientists also explore best practices for a smart grid, both by modeling power flow between utilities and homes and by researching the technology for interfaces.[19]
  • Nuclear Energy - Argonne generates advanced reactor and fuel cycle technologies that enable the safe, sustainable generation of nuclear power. Argonne scientists develop and validate computational models and reactor simulations of future generation nuclear reactors.[20] Another project studies how to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, so that waste is reduced up to 90%.[21]
  • Biological and Environmental Systems - Understanding the local effect of climate change requires integration of the interactions between the environment and human activities. Argonne scientists study these relationships from molecule to organism to ecosystem. Programs include bioremediation using trees to pull pollutants out of groundwater;[22] biochips to detect cancers earlier;[23] a project to target cancerous cells using nanoparticles;[24] soil metagenomics; and a major climate change research project, ARM.[25]
  • National Security - Argonne develops security technologies that will prevent and mitigate events with potential for mass disruption or destruction. These include sensors that can detect chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive materials;[26] portable Terahertz radiation ("T-ray") machines that detect dangerous materials more easily than X-rays at airports;[27] and tracking and modeling the possible paths of chemicals released into a subway.[28]

User facilities

Argonne builds and maintains scientific facilities that would be too expensive for a single company or university to construct and operate. These facilities are used by scientists from Argonne, private industry, academia, other national laboratories and international scientific organizations.

  • Electron Microscopy Center (EMC) – one of three DOE-supported scientific user facilities for electron beam microcharacterization. The EMC conducts in situ studies of transformations and defect processes, ion beam modification and irradiation effects, superconductors, ferroelectrics and interfaces. Its intermediate voltage electron microscope, which is coupled with an accelerator, represents the only such system in the United States.[32]
Argonne's Advanced Photon Source facility
  • Argonne Leadership Computing Facility – Provides leadership-class computing resources, including computer time, resources and data storage, to the scientific community. Argonne is home to Intrepid, an IBM Blue Gene/P supercomputer, recently ranked the second most energy-efficient supercomputer of its class by Green500[33] and ranked the eighth-fastest supercomputer worldwide.[34]
  • Structural Biology Center (SBC) – The SBC is a user facility located off the Advanced Photon Source X-ray facility, which specializes in macromolecular crystallography. Users have access to an insertion-device, a bending-magnet, and a biochemistry laboratory. SBC beamlines are often used to map out the crystal structures of proteins; in the past, users have imaged proteins from anthrax, meningitis-causing bacteria, salmonella, and other pathogenic bacteria.[35]
  • Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility (ARM) – Argonne is one of nine national labs which contribute to the ARM program, designed to research global climate change. Argonne oversees ARM operations and manages a meteorological data-gathering site in Oklahoma and a mobile data-gathering facility.[37]

Educational and community outreach

A student checks out Argonne's Gyro Wheel at the Open House.
A student checks out Argonne's Gyro Wheel at the Open House.

Argonne welcomes all members of the public age 16 or older to take guided tours of the scientific and engineering facilities and grounds. Tours last about two and a half hours. For children under 16, Argonne offers a range of hands-on learning activities suitable for K-12 field trips and scout outings. The laboratory also hosts educational science and engineering outreach for schools in the surrounding area.

Argonne scientists and engineers help advance science, engineering, and mathematics education in the United States by taking part in the training of nearly 1,000 college graduate students and post-doctoral researchers every year as part of their research and development activities.


Over the course of its history, 11 eminent scientists have served as Argonne Director:

Argonne in modern media

Significant portions of the 1996 chase movie Chain Reaction were filmed in the Zero-Gradient Synchrotron ring room and the former Continuous Wave Deuterium Demonstrator laboratory.[1]

Notable staff

See also

External links

Coordinates: 41°42′33″N 87°58′55″W / 41.709166°N 87.981992°W / 41.709166; -87.981992


  1. ^ Holl, Hewlett, and Harris, page xx (Introduction).
  2. ^ David Kramer (2009). "New Argonne head is chosen". Physics Today 62 (5): 32. doi:10.1063/1.3141937.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ .:Post Register - Idaho Falls, ID:. INL History
  5. ^ Welcome to Argonne
  6. ^ About Argonne
  7. ^ "Argonne National Laboratory". U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 2009-12-14.  
  8. ^ "New X-ray technique may lead to better, cleaner fuel injectors for automobiles". Argonne National Laboratory. 2008-02-19.  
  9. ^ "DOE to explore scientific cloud computing at Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories". Argonne National Laboratory. 2009-10-14.  
  10. ^ Gupta, Manya (2009-11-10). "Medical care on ice". Medill Reports.  
  11. ^ "Engineers reveal what makes diamonds slippery at the nanoscale". Science Centric. 2008-06-26.  
  12. ^ "Newly discovered 'superinsulators' promise to transform materials research, electronics design". Argonne National Laboratory. 2008-04-04.  
  13. ^ Mandel, Jenny (2009-08-24). "Chemistry Change in Batteries Could Make for Safer Electric Cars". New York Times.  
  14. ^ "Building better batteries". U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 2009-12-13.  
  15. ^ "Argonne opens new chapter in battery research: Li-Air". Argonne National Laboratory. 2009-09-15.  
  16. ^ "Battery Test Facility". Argonne National Laboratory, Transportation Center. Retrieved 2009-12-13.  
  17. ^ Leavitt, Wendy (1998-08-01). "Not Just Idle Talk". Fleet Owner.  
  18. ^ "Argonne, Northwestern seek ANSER to solar energy challenges". Argonne National Laboratory. 2007-05-08.  
  19. ^ "Grid Research: Making the Grid Smarter". Argonne National Laboratory Transportation Center. 2009-08-01.  
  20. ^ "Putting the new in nuclear". Argonne National Laboratory magazine. Fall 2009.  
  21. ^ . Science Channel.  
  22. ^ "Argonne Cleans Up Brownfield Sites [video"]. CleanSkies Network. 2009-11-10.  
  23. ^ "Biochips can detect cancers before symptoms develop". Argonne National Laboratory. 2008-05-09.  
  24. ^ Wang, Ann (2009-12-03). "Magnetic microdiscs target and initiate cell death in tumors". Johns Hopkins Newsletter.  
  25. ^ "ARRA funding to help scientists better understand climate change". Argonne National Laboratory. 2009-12-08.  
  26. ^ "New sensor technology detects chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive materials". Argonne National Laboratory. 2006-03-21.  
  27. ^ "New T-ray source could improve airport security, cancer detection". Argonne National Laboratory. 2007-11-23.  
  28. ^ Szaniszlo, Marie (2009-12-06). "MBTA preps for biological terror attack". Boston Herald.  
  29. ^ Argonne About the APS
  30. ^ Department of Energy Nanoscale Science Research Centers
  31. ^ About ATLAS
  32. ^ About the EMC
  33. ^ Schwartz, Ariel (2008-12-29). "Argonne National Laboratory Debuts Energy Efficient 557 TFlop Supercomputer".  
  34. ^ India Times
  35. ^ Midwest Center for Structural Genomics Deposit Their 1,000th Protein Structure into Protein Data Bank
  36. ^ About TRACC
  37. ^ ARM Laboratory Partners


  • Argonne National Laboratory, 1946-96. Jack M. Holl, Richard G. Hewlett, Ruth R. Harris. University of Illinois Press, 1997. ISBN 9780252023415.


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