Laser Lab begins work on $42M expansion

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The 66,000-square-foot building expansion includes office and lab space.
(Renderings courtesy of UR)

A $42 million expansion at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics is expected to bolster its position as a national resource. The addition comes roughly two decades after the Laser Lab made space to house the OMEGA extended performance laser.

A three-floor building will house 100 scientists and personnel and include a class 1000 target fabrication lab and thin film coating lab, a laser computing facility, and several other wet lab and general lab spaces, officials say. The AMICA laser system, a high-energy, long-pulse laser that scientists at the LLE are assembling for Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Matter at Extreme Condition Upgrade, will occupy the largest lab space.

“The LLE’s work in high-energy-density science continues to grow with each new year, and now their physical footprint is catching up,” says UR president Sarah Mangelsdorf. “The addition of these state-of-the-art facilities helps strengthen the LLE’s designation as one of the leading laser laboratories in the world and will provide space to support its expanding research agenda.”

Established in 1970, LLE began as a center for the investigation of the interaction of intense radiation with matter. The lab is funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration as part of its Stockpile Stewardship Program. Research at the LLE is also funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and New York.

The lab has consistently garnered support from lawmakers. For fiscal year 2022, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Joseph Morelle secured $82 million in the previous fiscal year and $80 million in fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2019. A few of them were present at the groundbreaking Wednesday.

As a nationally funded facility, the LLE conducts implosion and other experiments to assist a Department of Energy program to explore fusion as a future source of energy, UR says. It also works to develop new laser and materials technologies, conduct research and develop technology related to high-energy-density phenomena. Both graduate and undergraduate students in Rochester and at other institutions can learn there as well.

 “LLE at the University of Rochester is privileged to be funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration through a cooperative agreement, which over the decades has resulted in hundreds of trained PhD students and amazing science and innovation for NNSA, documented in thousands of scientific papers,” says Christopher Deeney, director of LLE.

The expansion is expected to be completed in 2024. LeChase Construction began work last month.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

One thought on “Laser Lab begins work on $42M expansion

  1. More impressive news.

    That said,…let me ask the same question with a twist. How many employees of the 42 million dollar project are graduates of the RCSD? Multi millions of dollars coming in and hundreds of good paying jobs for skilled and laborer personnel. The UR certainly knows how to recruit the dollars and projects. But for some reason it doesn’t reach to populace of RCSD youth. I have to ask this question, are the youth of Rochester uneducable? Or are they not being taught the way they learn. It has to be one or the other. I know,…I know the kids in the RCSD have gift and innate skills. All kids possess those. All kids! But for some reason the system that is suppose to teach and help kids discover their gifts and innate skills,…can’t get the job done,…or won’t. So either educate or admit the youth in the RCSD are uneducable. That places the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the RCSD SYSTEM. Those who are paid the big bucks. I would love to hear a response in the form of an explanation. I won’t hold my breath.

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