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June 8, 2009

MSU, U.S. Department of Energy sign agreement for FRIB

EAST LANSING, Mich. Michigan State University announced the signing of a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy concerning the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams on June 6. The agreement, an important milestone towards establishing the FRIB project, provides the instrument for DOE Office of Science to provide financial assistance to MSU to design and establish the new facility.


FRIB will be a DOE National User Facility within the department’s Office of Nuclear Physics portfolio and located on the MSU campus. FRIB will be a new research tool for probing into the heart of atoms.


The centerpiece of the new user facility will be a superconducting linear accelerator that will dramatically increase the reach of rare isotope research in the United States. The accelerator will produce isotopes that normally exist only in the most extreme environments in the universe and will greatly expand the usefulness of isotopes in a broad range of applications from modeling stars to understanding the workings of nanoscale electronic devices.


“We are very pleased to be able to take this next step in the process of bringing FRIB to MSU,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “This is an important project for American science and the state of Michigan. Not only will this keep MSU on the cutting edge of nuclear science, it will ensure that we honor our commitment of training the nuclear scientists of tomorrow while bolstering the economies of mid-Michigan and the entire state.”


FRIB, which will be operational in about a decade, will have approximately 400 employees and serve about 1,000 users. FRIB will cost approximately $550 million to design and build and is projected to create hundreds of jobs in mid-Michigan and generate more than $180 million in new state tax revenue, according to an economic impact study by the Anderson Economic Group of East Lansing. The new facility will ensure continued U.S. leadership in rare isotope research and nuclear science education.


Precise details associated with FRIB – everything from the layout and specific technical configuration of the new facility to likely schedule for construction and commissioning – will be managed in coordination with the DOE’s Office of Science in a set of prescribed reviews and milestones to ensure efficiency, safety and maximum scientific impact.


While FRIB is being constructed, MSU will continue to operate the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory as a national user facility, funded via a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. In fiscal year 2009, NSF has provided MSU with $20.5 million for NSCL, a premier rare isotope user facility with world-class capabilities.


NSCL employs coupled superconducting cyclotrons to accelerate and smash atomic nuclei in basic nuclear science experiments. The NSF-funded laboratory has long provided many hands-on opportunities for MSU undergraduate and graduate students in the physical sciences. For many years, the university’s graduate nuclear physics program has been ranked No. 2 in the nation (after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) by U.S. News and World Report.


Much of the current NSCL civil and technical infrastructure will eventually merge into FRIB. This includes new offices and expanded experimental areas to house a low-energy accelerator and associated instrumentation currently under construction and expected to be complete this summer.


NSCL will have an open house from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 13. The public will be able to tour the facility and see a variety of science demonstrations, videos and other presentations.


More information on FRIB is available at


Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.