Facility for Rare Isotope Beams breaks ground at MSU

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By Richie Carni
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

EAST LANSING—The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams officially broke ground on March 17. FRIB, which will be built on MSU’s campus, is the only facility of its kind in the country. Michigan senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow attended.

Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 1.53.03 PMDr. Thomas Glasmacher, the FRIB’s project manager, said the groundbreaking marks the beginning of an extensive process.

“In 2 and a half years the civil construction will be done, we start technical construction in the fall, and we’ll finish the project hopefully in December of 2020, but for sure by June of 2022, ” said Glasmacher, who joined MSU’s faculty in 1995 and is now a university distinguished professor in the Physics and Astronomy department.Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 1.53.13 PM

Glasmacher said FRIB will replace the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory that is currently in use on campus.

“When FRIB is done, the Cyclotron will cease to exist and then the assets will be incorporated into FRIB,” Glasmacher said.

Dr. Brad Sherrill, the FRIB’s chief scientist, said FRIB is essentially a brand-new tool for scientists, and that researchers in fields from medicine to astronomy will use the technology to study how certain elements and atoms interact.

“If scientists want to do research there’s no hardware store that they can go to, they come instead to research facilities like this,” said Sherrill, who earned a Ph.D. in physics from MSU in 1985.

Glasmacher said FRIB is the only facility of its kind in the country, and it gives its users a greater opportunity to make discoveries.

“It creates a discovery potential. It allows them to make discoveries in the areas of nuclear physics, astrophysics, and the implications of rare isotopes to society.”

Glasmacher said, as of right now, there are 1,350 users signed on to use FRIB once it is built.

Glasmacher also said FRIB will be significantly more powerful than the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, which currently accelerates heavier elements up to about 20 percent of the speed of light.

“The new facility will have about 1,000 times more power. It can accelerate any element from hydrogen to uranium up to half of the speed of light,” said Glasmacher.

East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas said the city will not be involved in any of FRIB’s civil construction, but added East Lansing will benefit from the new facility.

“Michigan State is a very big employer, and that benefits East Lansing,” Lahanas said. “Any time you’re adding jobs, technology, or anything like that, it helps the prestige of the university, the recognition of the university and the employment of the university, and that all helps East Lansing.”

FRIB is expected to generate $1 billion to Michigan’s economy and create 400 permanent jobs. Glasmacher said building the 220,000 square-foot facility will cost around $730 million, with a large amount of funding coming from the Department of Energy Office of Science.

More information regarding FRIB can be found online at: http://www.frib.msu.edu, and a list of FRIB’s users can be found at http://fribusers.org.

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