December 11, 2008

MSU to design rare isotope beam facility

The U.S. Department of Energy says it has selected Michigan State University to design and establish the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

Energy Department officials said the FRIB -- expected to take about a decade to design and build -- will cost approximately $550 million and provide international research opportunities for an estimated 1,000 university and laboratory scientists, postdoctoral associates, and graduate students.

The Department of Energy's new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University promises to vastly expand our understanding of nuclear astrophysics and nuclear structure, said the department's Acting Associate Director of the Office of Science for Nuclear Physics Eugene Henry. This capability will allow physicists to study the nuclear reactions that power stars and stellar explosions, explore the structure of the nuclei of atoms and the forces that bind them together, test current theories about the fundamental nature of matter, and play a role in developing new nuclear medicines and techniques.

He said the FRIB's research will involve experimentation with intense beams of rare isotopes -- short-lived nuclei not normally found on Earth -- and is expected to advance critical applications in the areas of materials science, medicine, and stockpile stewardship.