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NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) Recognition

Good afternoon . . . and let me add my welcome to you all. It's always a pleasure to be here at NIST . . . and that's particularly true today as we celebrate this thriving facility.

I'm happy to see so many distinguished guests and NIST supporters here today . . . Dr. Marburger, Dr. Colwell, Congresswoman Morella . . . thank you for joining us.

Dr. Bement and Phil Bond have talked about the development of the NIST Center for Neutron Research . . . of its role as a national user facility.

I'd like to emphasize one particular point that they both touched on . . . because I think it really gets to the heart of how NIST, the Technology Administration, and the Department of Commerce work most effectively.

That is the very important role of partnerships in making the NCNR a success . . . partnerships with industry, with academia, and with other government agencies . . . partnerships that promote cutting-edge research with wide-ranging applications . . . from improving the durability of cement to enhancing the design of future super-conducting technologies.

I'm glad to see that a number of our partners are represented here today.

Dr. Roger Cohen is here from ExxonMobil . . . thank you for being here. Exxon should get the "spirit award" for being the first partner to invest in this cold neutron guide hall . . . I believe before construction even started.

This relationship has lasted 15 years, contributing valuable basic research on oil-related products and processes . . . with applications as practical as keeping diesel fuel filters from clogging in cold weather.

They worked with NIST to build the hall's first small-angle neutron scattering instrument . . . and have now expanded that partnership to include one of the newest instruments - the so-called neutron spin echo spectrometer, which measures very slow dynamics of molecules.

It is the only instrument of this type in the western hemisphere . . . and is being used to, among other things, examine how drug delivery systems work in the body and, more specifically, how gene therapies can be made more effective.

Exxon was the first, but certainly not the last, company to make significant contributions to the NCNR. Others include IBM, DuPont, Kodak, and Allied Signal.

Arden mentioned the early contributions of the Naval and Army research laboratories to the neutron facility. We've all benefited from those partnerships as well as from the long association the NCNR has had with the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA's neutron activation analysis facility here has contributed to a broad spectrum of research to improve the quality and safety of the nation's food supply.

I'm also pleased that Dr. Pat Dehmer could be here from the Department of Energy.

DOE is, of course, the other custodian of the nation's neutron sources, and both Departments have profited from an on-going exchange of ideas and experience.

I know that NIST has contributed to the design of DOE's new Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge, from which we all expect great things. Likewise, DOE is supporting work performed here.

One could hardly discuss partnerships without mentioning the very important Center for High Resolution Neutron Scattering, a state-of-the-art "facility within a facility" here that is jointly supported by the National Science Foundation and NIST.

I'm so pleased that NSF Director Dr. Rita Colwell is with us today.

This collaboration has been a spectacular success - each year hosting hundreds of top scientists from our nation's best universities . . . providing a research venue for over a hundred first-rate graduate students over the course of this partnership . . . and sponsoring an annual summer school that instructs the next generation of researchers in the use of these cutting-edge techniques.

The research conducted on CHRNS instruments has improved the fabrication of integrated circuits . . . enhanced the properties of plastics . . . and advanced our understanding of proteins that regulate fundamental biological processes like muscle contraction and transport through cell membranes.

On the tour later this afternoon you'll see a work in progress, the new Cold Neutrons for Biology and Technology Center under development by the National Institutes of Health and a consortium of five universities.

Dr. Mike Marron from the National Center for Research Resources is here representing the NIH.

During the tour we will hear about the project from Professor Stephen White from the University of California at Irvine . . . but I don't think I'm giving anything away when I tell you it will be a unique facility for biological studies and a very valuable addition to the NCNR.

This new project will use cold neutrons to explore biological membranes . . . with potential applications in tissue engineering and biosensor development . . . as well as in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

That's already an impressive list of partnerships and I haven't even covered the many university interactions - with places like Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Pennsylvania.

But I think the message is clear . . . this is, and always has been, a facility built on cooperation . . . it represents the many benefits of effective public-private partnerships, and a willingness to reach out and understand the needs of industry as well as academia, and government.

This is a truly national resource and one that is, in the words of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, "the highest performing and most used neutron facility in the United States at this time."

And it's also true, as Dr. Marburger and the OSTP point out, that we must push forward and build on our success.

Usage is high . . . but demand is higher. The NCNR supports nearly twice the number of users as the other three major operating sources combined. But, if the needs of the nation's research community are to be met, all neutron providers will need to increase available research hours.

We have taken some steps to address this need . . . For example, the new advanced cold neutron source installed by NIST will significantly boost the efficiency of the instrumentation.

This Administration has demonstrated its commitment to this important resource . . . which is why the President's fiscal year 2003 budget requested $6 million in additional funding for the facility.

And we will continue - collectively - to pursue ways to fulfill the needs of the research community.

Again, I thank you for being here today . . . I thank you in particular for the successful partnerships that you have cultivated here . . . and the many important contributions to scientific and technical knowledge that will flow from these collaborations.

Thank you.

Created October 14, 2009, Updated October 22, 2016