The Advanced Measurement Laboratory: Designed to Be the World's Best

by Eleonora Windisch

On June 21, 2004, the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) invited dignitaries from the greater Washington, D.C. area to its campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland for the official dedication ceremony of its newly built flagship project, the Advanced Measurement Laboratory (AML).

{access view=guest}Access to the full article is free, but requires you to register. Registration is simple and quick - all we need is your name and a valid e-mail address. We appreciate your interest in bridges.{/access} {access view=!guest}Before over 250 invited guests, NIST Director Arden Bement, who is concurrently Acting Director of the National Science Foundation, proudly introduced the $235 million project, calling the new lab an extraordinary achievement. Planning for the 49,843 square meter (536,507 square foot) research facility began more than a decade ago. Meticulous preparation and full bipartisan support from lawmakers allowed the project to be finished "on time and on budget," Director Bement noted.
Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology Philipp Bond, Commerce Department General Cou nsel and Deputy Secretary-Designate Theodore Kassinger, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy John Marburger, and Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Maryland) and House Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) were full of praise for NIST and its efforts to ensure U.S. global technological competitiveness. Lawmakers and officials were equally eager to emphasize the economic potential that the work of AML will bring to the U.S. economy. Dr. Marburger, who at a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science highlighted the importance of NIST as an incubator, once again stated his full support for the research being undertaken at this new facility. "Valuable synergies for the entire economy will be created," he said. Deputy Commerce Secretary-Designate Kassinger followed suit by adding that at "the end of the day, our nation and our citizens will be safer, healthier and more productive as a result of the work that will be done here." image: courtesy NIST

The AML is the world's most technically advanced research facility of its kind. Unprecedented environmental control of air quality, temperature, vibration, and humidity allow for highly sophisticated measurements and standards needed by both U.S. industry and the science community. Electrical power filtering and green building features ensure AML's smooth operation and guarantee a user-friendly environment. Research at AML labs will include the use of improved methods and tools of calibration and measurement, the development of quantum computing technology, and experiments in nanoscale chemistry.

The new complex consists of five separate wings, two of which are located 12 meters (40 feet) below ground. It will house 338 reconfigurable lab modules and an ultraclean room (Class 100 = 3.5 particles per cubic liter of air) for nanofabrication. Over 500 scientists are expected to work at the facility by the end of August, when it is expected to be fully operational. Although highly advanced technically, the nature of the work still allows for guest scientists, post-docs and academic researchers to set up shop at AML.

Having drawn from experience at similar facilities in Germany and Scandinavia, the AML is quickly becoming a prototype for other projects. According to AML staff, similar facilities, albeit at a much smaller scale, currently are being built in Ireland and Great Britain.

Advanced Measurement. Laboratory (AML):
National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST):{/access}