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Award for LAQS Labs

UMD Receives $10.3 Million Grant for Quantum Science Labs
PSC Exterior

The ellipse, reaching from the atrium to the sky and lighting three floors.

Credit: HDR/CUH2A and CMNS


COLLEGE PARK , MD -- The University of Maryland at College Park has been awarded $10.3 million by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to fund construction of the Laboratory for Advanced Quantum Science (LAQS) within the university's planned Physical Sciences Complex. The university will contribute an additional $5.2 million for a total project budget of $15.5 million.

The grant will provide JQI scientists and other investigators with state-of-the-art facilities as good as any in the world, by adding 21,000 square feet of underground laboratory space that is specifically designed for the needs of research at the frontiers of quantum science. The facilities will be constructed beneath UMD’s planned Physical Sciences Complex, which will be attached to the east side of the Computer and Space Sciences Building (site of the current JQI headquarters) and will occupy the space currently devoted to a parking lot.

"These world-class labs will keep JQI at the forefront of quantum science," said JQI Co-Director Steven Rolston. "We are deeply grateful for the opportunity this award makes possible, and we intend to produce results that will fully justify the confidence that NIST has shown in our research goals and capabilities."

LAQS will feature environmental controls for clean air, low vibration and electromagnetic interference, as well as stable temperature and humidity, that meet the exacting standards of the Advanced Measurement Laboratories at NIST, which are widely regarded as the most sophisticated facilities of their kind.

LAQS will primarily support the work of the JQI scientists whose work focuses at the intersection of three fast-moving research areas: atomic, molecular and optical physics; condensed matter physics; and quantum information science. The most advanced experimental work in those fields demands exquisitely fine control of the research space. Many instruments, such as precision lasers, must be protected from even tiny vibrations and operated in an environment that restricts thermally induced expansion or contraction to less than a few billionths of a meter.

Construction of the Physical Sciences Complex, including the LAQS, is expected to begin this year and to be completed by spring 2013.

The NIST award is part of a $123 million package of grants announced today in response to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, providing funding to 11 universities and one nonprofit research organization for construction of new scientific research facilities.

The agency statement notes that "with ultimate research targets ranging from off-shore wind power and coral reef ecology to quantum physics and nanotechnology, the 12 projects will launch more than $250 million in new laboratory construction projects beginning early this year."

Some of NIST’s AML Specifications

  • All air is filtered through high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) technology, to Class 1000/ISO 6 or better in labs with special needs.
  • Temperature is controlled to within 0.25 degrees Celsius, and to within 0.1 to 0.01 degrees in some areas. 
  • Vibration is restricted to 3 millionths of a meter per second, and 0.5 micrometers per second  where required.
  • Humidity does not fluctuate more than 5 percent, and is restricted to 1 percent in special lab sections.
  • An uninterruptible power supply maintains stable current and eliminates voltage spikes and other problems.