One important reason for establishing America’s national laboratory system immediately after World War II was to provide a home for large-scale, costly scientific facilities that universities could not afford. Such facilities were believed to be essential to sustaining America’s effort in science.
The construction and operation of large-scale scientific user facilities have been integral to the mission of the DOE Office of Science from the earliest days.
Today, we maintain and operate 26 DOE Office of Science user facilities at DOE national laboratories across the country as shared resources for the scientific community, with access determined on a competitive basis using peer review. Tens of thousands of researchers make use of these facilities each year.
These facilities—including advanced supercomputers, particle accelerators, large x-ray light sources, neutron scattering sources, specialized facilities for nanoscience and genomics, and others—have become increasingly vital tools of scientific discovery.
They have also become an important component of national economic competitiveness.
Today the international competition is fierce to develop and deploy the most advanced scientific facilities. Nations with the fastest supercomputers and most advanced light sources, for example, will have a distinct advantage in the race for discovery and innovation across a broad range of fields, from physics, materials science, and chemistry to genomics and medicine.
Learn more about DOE Office of Science user facilities here.