Stimulus funds help synchrotron research, Energy Recovery Linac stay the course

The National Science Foundation is continuing its support of Cornell's world-renowned synchrotron X-ray research facility, thanks in part to federal stimulus funding.

Nearly $19 million allocated this year through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will support research at Wilson Synchrotron Laboratory, including the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS), the Cornell Electron Storage Ring (CESR) and ongoing efforts to plan and build a new linear accelerator called the Energy Recovery Linac.

"The funds are allowing us to hire a few people and, more importantly, allow us to retain our superb staff," said Sol Gruner, CHESS director.

About $5.2 million in ARRA funding will go to research and development for the ERL from February 2009 to March 2010. Cornell scientists working on the $400 million project hope to complete a conceptual design proposal for the full ERL in 2010. A key component of the new accelerator, a prototype electron beam injector, has been operating since July 2008.

ARRA funding also includes $7.2 million for CHESS, the synchrotron X-ray facility that attracts users from all over the world, and $6.5 million to support CESR, Cornell's electron-positron storage ring that provides the X-rays for CHESS.

Those funds are part of NSF's renewal of the CHESS and CESR grants that are typically awarded every five years. Cornell officials are hopeful that the facilities will be fully renewed through 2014.

"The NSF has been very supportive, and part of what has made continuing our work possible was ARRA support," Gruner said. "Without the funding for the current year, work on these activities could not have continued."

So far, Cornell has received more than 90 ARRA grants, totally about $76 million.

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Blaine Friedlander