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Remarks by Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman

Thank you, Bob [Rosner] for that introduction. And let me also thank you, along with [University of Chicago] President Randel, for the leadership you are showing here. Argonne has long been a world class institution. It will soar to new heights under your joint direction.

I also want to acknowledge Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Thank you for being here. More than that, thank you for your strong backing of Argonne and its employees. Congresswoman Judy Biggert, who chairs the Science Subcommittee on Energy, is also a good friend to this lab, and we value her support as well.

I took over as Secretary of Energy three months ago, and I have to say this is perhaps my most exciting moment so far in the job. That is not to minimize the importance of any of the activities in which I have participated so far.

But there is a very palpable sense of anticipation surrounding this event and our endeavors here … because of everything this Nanoscale Materials Center represents. The steps we are taking by building it are truly about building the future of this lab … the future of a fledgling scientific discipline … indeed, the future of our nation and our economy.

It is very appropriate that we gather on this spot for a cornerstone laying ceremony, because the work that will be performed here and at the four other DOE nanoscale facilities is destined to be the cornerstone of 21st century nanoscience.

All of us have heard about the endless possibilities offered by research at the nano scale – infinitesimally sized probes that might target disease cell by cell … car and truck bodies that are half as heavy but twice as strong as those we presently use … computers smaller than a grain of sand. Amazing, fantastic concepts. But those concepts amount to little more than science fiction if we don’t actually do the work and conduct the basic research to make them reality.

That’s what this facility will do – the future will be created right here.

There are several very good reasons we have elected to locate our Nanoscale Materials Centers at national labs like Argonne.

We want to build them next to light sources – like the Advanced Photon Source – to give researchers access to state-of-the-art machines to support their work.

We also hope that by bringing chemists together with physicists, materials scientists, biologists, computer specialists, and others, our nano centers will make possible a truly extraordinary level of interdisciplinary research.

And by providing the tools for research along with an atmosphere and culture that demands that the stove-piping among disciplines becomes a thing of the past, we expect that our nano centers will help educate a new generation of young scientists.

What I am most proud of today is that this nanoscience center will be a national asset that will help define the future of science and technology for all of us. That is why we are making such a substantial investment, both in facilities such as this and in nanoscale research in general.

I am happy that it is not just our Department that recognizes the value of investing in this extremely critical area of scientific inquiry. The state of Illinois has also made a very substantial contribution to building the Argonne Nanoscale Materials Center, as it has to other important projects here at Argonne.

The state is an equal financial partner with the Department of Energy on this project, with each side contributing $36 million. Let me particularly credit Governor Blagojevich and the other leaders in Springfield for recognizing the importance of this project. But this is typical of the sustained support – over many years – that this state has given Argonne.

And I am confident that these investments will continue to pay great dividends for Illinois. Just as I am confident it will pay great dividends for the nation, as well as for the pursuit of scientific knowledge.

We fully expect the fields of energy, medicine, information technology and homeland security to be touched – if not transformed – by the work that will take place here. Researchers working with this Nanoscale Materials Center will create new products that just might impact every man, woman, and child and the planet.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why I said a moment ago that this might be the most exciting moment I have experienced as Secretary of Energy. And it is why I am so proud to be here with Governor Blagojevich and with all of you to lay the cornerstone of the Argonne Nanoscale Materials Center.

Location: Argonne National Laboratory