Skip to main content
Feature Story | Argonne National Laboratory

75 years of brilliant discoveries: Argonne celebrates its diamond anniversary

The laboratory has paved the way for breakthroughs in energy, environment, security and health for three-quarters of a century.

The spirit of discovery is fundamental to science, and for 75 years, the spirit of discovery has called the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOEArgonne National Laboratory home. 

From the laboratory’s origins leading research into peaceful uses for atomic energy in the mid-1940s to a multipurpose facility that strives to unravel the mysteries inherent in fields ranging from quantum computing to the use of hydrogen as a fuel, Argonne has always worked on the cutting edge, striving to ensure U.S. prosperity and security.

Seventy-five years ago, on July 1, 1946, Argonne opened its doors, becoming the nation’s first laboratory chartered by the U.S. Department of Energy (then known as the Atomic Energy Commission). Ever since, Argonne has accelerated innovations that range from better batteries for electric vehicles to new water filtration technologies, all of which improve our lives and push forward the scientific frontier.

Advancing the scientific frontier has meant a tireless effort to find new sources of clean, affordable energy. From the nuclear energy research that formed the heart of Argonne’s first several decades of existence to more recent projects in solar energy and energy storage, Argonne researchers have worked to revolutionize how we power our nation and its economy.

To embark on the transformative research that forms the heart of Argonne’s mission, the laboratory has built a series of large facilities available to all researchers in the scientific community. Argonne is home to five of these research facilities, and the work they pursue helps to form a great deal of the laboratory’s overall scope and mission.

That continuing mission — to create a safer, more sustainable and more prosperous society — has evolved over time to reflect scientific progress and national priorities. The threat of climate change has made the need for clean energy solutions for an economy less dependent on carbon even more pressing.

While Argonne’s original charge focused on nuclear energy, today the laboratory takes a more global approach to address challenges at the nexus of energy, water, security and other essential needs. For instance, to help make wind and solar power competitive with other energy sources, Argonne has dedicated teams of researchers to improve renewable technology and grid interoperability. Energy storage has been a key component of the laboratory’s research portfolio for decades, and world-leading experts at Argonne have pioneered battery chemistries beyond currently used lithium-ion.

Although Argonne primarily supports the DOE energy and environmental missions, its commitment to addressing the most pressing scientific challenges extends to other spheres of inquiry. Argonne scientists help to deal with crises as they emerge, from natural disasters to pandemics, and also devote their efforts to understand the fundamental properties that underlie our universe. From creating quantum devices to developing an economy that more fully reuses and recycles materials, Argonne scientists are paving a path for the future.

As the laboratory has grown in size and scope, its scientists have blazed trails in a number of different fields. Seventy-five years after the laboratory’s founding, Argonne is focusing resources in several key research areas.

Learn more about these key Argonne research areas by clicking on the links below:

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 https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.