April 17, 2006

Sandia to dedicate grand new Microfab and Microlab facilities Friday

Light Wizard The setting sun reflects off the glass of the cylindrical training center attached to Sandia’s new MicroLab building. The building is the second of three to come online of the defense lab’s $500 million MESA project. (Photo by Bill Doty)
Download 300dpi JPEG image, “microlab-doty.jpg,” 412K (Media are welcome to download/publish this image with related news stories.)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A building dedication celebrating the formal opening — on-time and on-budget — of Sandia National Laboratories’ architecturally attractive Microfab and Microlab facilities will be held at 10:30 a.m., Friday, April 21, on Kirtland Air Force Base.

Sen. Pete Domenici (N.M.), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Rep. Heather Wilson (N.M.), National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Defense Programs head Tom D’Agostino, and Sandia President Tom Hunter are among those slated to attend.

Members of the news media are invited to attend the building dedication. A ribbon will be cut by Sen. Domenici. DVDs will be available with virtual fly-bys of the new facility. Exhibits will show photonic, micromachine, and computer capabilities. Inexpensive consumer toys will be distributed demonstrating new achievements in photonics.  Interested news media must meet by no later than 9:45 a.m. at the north end of the International Programs Building parking lot at 10600 Research Drive. All attendees must be U.S. citizens and RSVP by 10:30 a.m. Thursday, April 20, to Michelle Fleming at 844-4902.

The Microlab building — a key third of the half-billion-dollar MESA complex, Sandia’s largest project ever — is possibly the most scenic building Sandia has yet built. A short tour of this building will be offered.

Ringed by closely spaced boulders to protect against vehicular security incidents, and using for the most part only basic materials like cement, steel, and glass, the imaginative, eco-friendly design — with light coming in from external walls of glass and large skylights three stories above the building’s central corridor — is expected to encourage interactions among groups formerly separated in Sandia’s work force.

The primary intent is to combine the expertise of three groups — electronics, photonics, and computer visualization — to more quickly imagine and design better microelectronic devices to support the needs of U.S. national security and the nuclear weapons complex of the future.

A second purpose is to create designs and methods that later might be useful for the consumer needs of U.S. industry, which would use commercial manufacturing plants to produce products in the large numbers needed to satisfy a mass market.

The MicroFab replaces Sandia’s aging Compound Semiconductor Research Laboratory. The new three-story facility is one of the most modern and complex buildings at Sandia and was the first of three new facilities that make up the MESA complex. Its structure includes sophisticated safety systems and controls because of the hazardous materials used in the production of compound semiconductors.

Still to be completed for the MESA project is the Weapons Integration Facility, expected to be structurally finished later this year and operational in FY2008.

The Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications (MESA) construction project supports the NNSA’s Defense Programs mission for research, development, and simulation.

There have been no increases to the total project cost, project schedule, or original scope objectives since the project was originally baselined in October 2002.

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Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. 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