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NIST Advanced Measurement Laboratory

Ground Broken for World's Premier Measurement Research Facility

Perhaps one of the most significant milestones in the nearly 100-year history of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) occurred today when ground was broken in Gaithersburg, Md., on the NIST Advanced Measurement Laboratory.

When it is ready for occupancy in 2004, the 47,480-square-meter (511,070- square-foot), $235.2 million AML will give NIST-an agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration-and its partners in U.S. industry access to research and development capabilities not available anywhere else in the world. The laboratory's unique characteristics will help industry/government collaborators achieve higher quality reference materials, improved measurements and standards, and more rapidly developed research advances.

Participating in today's groundbreaking ceremony were Commerce Secretary William Daley, Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Congresswoman Constance Morella (R-Md.), Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan and Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology Cheryl Shavers.

"The AML is the world-class facility that will provide the United States with global leadership in measurements and standards, and set the foundation for technological advances well into the 21st century," said Secretary Daley. "What will come from within these walls will enhance U.S. industrial competitiveness, foster economic growth and improve the quality of life for all Americans."

The AML will feature stringent controls on particulate matter, temperature, vibration and humidity that are unattainable in current NIST buildings. Such conditions are vital for housing the institute's most advanced metrology, physics, chemistry, electronics, engineering, manufacturing and materials science research, and will enable NIST to keep pace with rapid developments in semiconductors, industrial robots, computers, pharmaceuticals and emerging technologies requiring molecular and atomic-level precision.

The AML will consist of five sections: two single-floor measurement laboratory sections below ground with 151 modules (for improved vibration isolation and temperature control), two single-floor instrument laboratory sections above ground with 187 modules and one ultraclean room wing above ground. Specialty areas within the AML include 48 precision temperature control laboratories (constant temperatures within ±0.1 degree Celsius or ±0.01 degree Celsius depending on need) and 27 extremely low-vibration laboratories.

Characteristics that will be uniform throughout the AML include HEPA filtration for all laboratory air; a baseline temperature control of ±0.25 degree Celsius; mechanical, electrical, and structural systems designed to minimize vibration; and a power system rated for critical electronic loads. Mechanical services (piping, ventilation and electrical) as well as laboratory support equipment (such as gas canisters) are located in a service corridor located between laboratory modules, maximizing flexibility and cleanliness.

Finally, natural daylighting, energy conservation and recycling are incorporated into the "green" building design and planned operation of the AML.

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Technology Administration, NIST strengthens the U.S. economy and improves the quality of life by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards through four partnerships: the Measurement and Standards Laboratories, the Advanced Technology Program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Baldrige National Quality Program.

Released June 9, 2000, Updated January 13, 2023