Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and the 2011 State Legislature approved $51.3 million in bonding funds for a new physics and nanotechnology building, revitalizing and expanding two key science areas.
A strong physics program is an essential component of a cutting-edge teaching and research university, both for what it investigates and for what it contributes to other scientific disciplines.
The Tate Laboratory of Physics, the current home of physics at the University of Minnesota, is more than 80 years old and was last remodeled in 1965. It has been home to generations of science pioneers, but it cannot be modernized to meet the needs of today’s experimental physicists without shutting down the physics program.
A modern physics building is essential to attracting and retaining world-class faculty, which has been a challenge in recent years due to the age and limited size of existing laboratories.
Nanotechnology is a natural partner for this project. Some of the most vital discoveries in physics are in areas leveraging nanotechnology.
Creating a shared home for nanotechnology research will improve access and collaboration from multiple researchers, expand the University’s ability to turn research into real-world applications and will help the U keep its competitive edge in grant funding.
The experimental physics and nanotechnology advancement building will provide modern and highly flexible physics laboratory and laboratory support space, and nanotechnology space (including a 5,000-square-foot clean room). All told, the facility will contain 40 new research laboratories.
Co-locating these facilities will make for more efficient use of physical resources, and will deliver breakthrough results in translational research for both disciplines. Tate Lab will be repurposed to serve other needs once a new home for physics is established.
Physics and nanotechnology bring in more than $30 million in federal research grants each year. Additionally, the physics department won $40 million in 2009 to build a particle physics research facility in northern Minnesota.
Physics and nanotechnology provide real-world research opportunities to hundreds of undergraduates each year. A new building will strengthen the University’s unique ability to deliver these kinds of learning experiences.
The experimental physics and nanotechnology advancement building will house 200 faculty, post doctorate and graduate students and will provide space for visiting researchers. Dedicated meeting and discussion space throughout the building will be allocated for student interaction with faculty.