Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Marty Goolsby ()
Communications and External Relations


New user facility opens doors for industry and academia

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sep. 6, 1995 — Since the days when the microscope and telescope were invented to help reveal secrets about our universe, research instruments have been invaluable tools to scientists in their quest for knowledge.

To make leading measurement instrumentation technology available to representatives of industry and universities, the Instrumentation and Controls Division at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has created the Metrology Research and Development Laboratories facility. It is one of several user facilities at ORNL available to the lab's more than 4,000 yearly guest researchers.

"Small companies in the area need to use certain testing equipment that they don't have the capital to invest in," said Tim McKnight, Metrology Research and Development Laboratories engineer. "We have made this facility available because it allows these companies to expand their capabilities by using our instruments."

Small companies, however, are not the only ones that benefit from the facility, said Jim Hylton, group leader of the Sensors and Metrology Group at ORNL. Large companies from around the country have access to unique instruments at the facility, which consists of an array of research centers for studying measurement and sensing technologies for parameters such as temperature, flow, radiometry, nanometrology, optics, electromagnetics and environmental ionizing radiation.

One unique instrument available is the gravimetric calibrator, a state-of-the-art device capable of measuring the flow rate of any type of gas. It was built for use in the semiconductor industry, and has been awarded an international patent and an R&D 100 Award, an award presented annually by R&D Magazine in recognition of the year's most significant technological innovations.

Another capability valuable to outside users is the measurement of and testing for electrical noise which might interfere with the operation of electronic systems. This type of testing can be done on user equipment in the ORNL facility, or in a user's outside facility by using portable monitoring equipment.

There is also a facility in which a user can expose equipment to harsh industrial environments for long-term tests and can control the experiment remotely over the Internet.

The Metrology Research and Development Laboratories not only provide a wide array of instruments, but also offer more than 40 years of expertise to users.

"The users have access to the Instrumentation and Controls Division research and development staff of more than 100 scientists and engineers who specialize in diverse areas of measurement and sensor technology," Hylton said.

Not only does the facility meet the measurement and testing needs of today, McKnight said, but it is also developing the measurement and testing techniques of tomorrow.

"The facility's goals are to continue to provide state-of-the-art capabilities to industry and academia and to continue to improve the facility," he said. "We will continue to make ORNL-developed technology available to companies and universities."

You can learn more about this research and many other exciting projects by visiting ORNL on Oct. 21, 1995, during its Community Day event. Many of our facilities will be open to the public that day. For additional information, call ORNL Public Affairs, 865-574-4160.

ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, which also manages the Oak Ridge K-25 Site and the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant.