Sandia Labs News Releases

Reborn Ion Beam Lab has grand opening, with talk by Sen. Bingaman to follow

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Sandia National Laboratories’ President Paul Hommert welcomes U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, who will speak at the grand opening of Sandia National Laboratories’ reborn Ion Beam Laboratory in a ceremony from 9:30–10:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 20.

B-roll of the intense beams creating bursts of light, as well of shots of large equipment — particularly a giant Van de Graaff generator — being moved with great care into the new building will be available at the ceremony to news media in both 16×9 and 4×3 formats. Building access will be available to videographers interested in entering the main target analysis area while the dignitaries are there. Following the walk-through tour, an opening ceremony will take place on the front steps of the new building. There will be an opportunity at the close of the program for questions from media representatives.

Following this event, Bingaman will give a brief talk on energy security and its challenges in the Steve Schiff Auditorium on Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) in an event slated from 11:00-11:30 a.m.

Media representatives have three choices:

  • Attend both events. Arrive at the KAFB contractor gate (described in box below) by 9:10 a.m. We will caravan back to the gate at 11:35 a.m.
  • Attend only the IBL opening. Arrive by 9:10 a.m. You will be escorted back to your cars at the close of this event, roughly 10:30 a.m..
  • Attend only the Bingaman talk. Please go to the KAFB contractor gate (described below in box) at 10:40 a.m. to attend the 11 a.m. event. We’ll take you back to the gate at 11:35 a.m.

News media interested in receiving IBL B-roll should call Iris Aboytes at (505) 844-2282. Because the ceremony will take place in a restricted Sandia area, media attendees must be U.S. citizens. Camera make, model, and serial numbers will be requested. Sandia media relations personnel will escort media onto base from the KAFB contractor gate, on Eubank Boulevard a few hundred feet south of the main employee entrance, itself a few miles south of Central Avenue. Please arrive at 9 a.m. to caravan onto the airbase at 9:10 a.m.

The IBL’s unique structure will contain six accelerator systems capable of generating ions of every element in nature from one electron volt (eV) to 400 million electron volts (MeV), and at intensities ranging from just single ions to trillions of ions per second. One eV is enough to ionize a single atom or energize a single photon; 400 MeV will accelerate the heaviest ions to 7% the speed of light.

Among the uses of the building’s high-energy beams is to rapidly analyze materials. A low-energy ion implantation beam then modifies them. (An ion is an atom with too few or too many electrons.) This artificial condition helps improve predictions of the corrosion of materials used in electronic components that permeate military and civilian life.

Other research areas are uniquely owned by Sandia Labs in the Department of Energy complex. They include microscopic diagnostics of radiation sensitivity of integrated circuits, simulating the effects of the enormous fluxes of neutrons associated with nuclear detonations, to provide data that will help protect U.S. electronics against such an occurrence. The beams also aid calibrations and certifications for the nuclear stockpile.

The 27,000-square-foot building, constructed and expected to be equipped at a cost of $39.6 million, is on track to be significantly under budget and completed approximately six months ahead of schedule. Funds came from earlier savings on a much larger Sandia project called the MESA center. Costs include the new building, purchasing upgraded machines, relocating personnel and existing equipment and demolishing the old building.

The original sheet-metal-roofed, 15,000-square-foot building, erected in 1956 for $150,000 as a “temporary” structure, had a storied history, emblematic of the spartan style of the early, post-World War II Sandia Labs. It was originally used as a photo lab and to fold parachutes. Nevertheless, the original building, albeit “temporary,” was home for the Ion Beam Lab for over 40 years, clearly more than serving its purpose.


Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Neal Singer, (505) 845-7078