Argonne National Laboratory

Lab breaks ground on new Materials Design Laboratory to spur transformative technologies

By Jared SagoffSeptember 26, 2016

From designing tailored superconductors to transform the nation's energy grid to developing better materials for wind turbines and finding potential replacements for silicon for next-generation computers, the next new building at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory will allow scientists to discover new materials, understand how they work and put them to use.

The new Materials Design Laboratory (MDL) will be the final building to complete Argonne's Energy Quad — a group of four adjoining buildings designed to maximize collaboration between energy and materials scientists. A groundbreaking ceremony for the MDL was held on September 2.

"In this new facility, researchers will combine molecules in ways that have never been done before," said Argonne Director Peter Littlewood. "Discoveries made here will drive breakthroughs that enable improvements in the safety and performance of consumer technologies and accelerate the creation of innovations that will promote global progress."

"Science at the Materials Design Laboratory is driven by bridging scientific disciplines..."

The MDL will encompass roughly 115,000 square feet of laboratory and office space, including 10,000 square feet of lab space for radiological research, in which scientists can work safely with radiological isotopes to determine their relevance to new energy technologies. Construction of the MDL is expected to generate approximately 2,375 jobs.

At the MDL, researchers will investigate structures at scales all the way from a single electron on up. Scientists at the MDL will also study the interfaces where molecules come together in new materials, and they will be able to test the properties of a wide range of materials under extreme conditions.

The MDL was designed with sustainability in mind, and is in line to receive LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Buildings Council. The building contains high-efficiency lighting, recycled materials, energy recovery systems and other green construction features.

"Science at the MDL is driven by bridging scientific disciplines," Littlewood said. "In this new facility, Argonne researchers will work with one another and partners from outside the lab in order to deepen our understanding of the properties of different materials and discover solutions to pressing societal challenges."

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.