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    BNL to Get New Nanotechnology Center

    Spencer Abraham, Department of Energy Secretary, gave his approval on Fridayto Brookhaven National Laboratory’#146;s (BNL) design plans for a multi-million-dollarnanotechnology research center following his first official visit to the lab.

    The proposed Center for Functional Nanomaterials still requires congressionalapproval, retaining an estimated financial burden of $70 million to $85 million.Abraham and other officials said that the research has widespread politicalsupport.

    ‘[It] will be one of the most advanced research centers for nanoscalescience anywhere in the world,’ Abraham said.

    Nanoscale science, or the study of structures as small as one ten-thousandththe width of a human hair, is becoming a popular research area because of itswide range of potential applications, ranging from improving computer circuitsand energy conversion to strengthening metals and sensing chemical hazards.

    Abraham’#146;s visit was considered to be an overwhelming success, as a packedauditorium of the lab’#146;s employees responded to his announcements with astanding ovation.

    The announcement is viewed as a much needed boost for a lab that has previouslyfaced environmental contamination and cleanup charges at its 5,300 acre Uptonsite. Following the announcement, Abraham stated that the department supportsan ‘expedited cleanup program’ for the lab’#146;s contaminated areas.

    John Taylor, BNL’#146;s assistant project manager for the proposed 78,000-square-foot-center,estimated that it would employ some 70 scientists and staff. The main focusof the center would be on designing and building tiny biochips, nanofibers,chemical catalysts, and other miniature applications. With an estimated yearlyoperating budget of $20 million, he said the center would attract some 300 yearlyusers.

    BNL, one of five proposed nanotechnology centers at Department of Energy’#146;slabs across the country, must now complete its conceptual design plans beforethe Energy Department can request congressional funding. Taylor said such fundingcould appear in the 2004 fiscal budget, meaning that the center’#146;s engineeringand structural design could begin as early as fall of 2003.

    State Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton both released statementsin support of the proposal, praising BNL as an ideal choice for the new center.

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