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‘This is a huge advantage’ -- State, national leaders celebrate MSU’s F-RIB at ribbon cutting

‘This is a huge advantage’ -- State, national leaders celebrate MSU’s F-RIB at ribbon cutting
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 9:43 AM EDT|Updated: May. 2, 2022 at 5:17 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A ribbon cutting ceremony took place Monday for Michigan State University’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or “F-RIB.”

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Senator Gary Peters were among those in attendance at the event.

Dr. Witold Nazarewicz, F-RIB Chief Scientist, has been researching nuclear structures for decades. If he’s learned one thing other than the structures of atomic nuclei, he said it’s that patience is key.

“Early 1990s to 2022, right. We have to be very patient in physics,” Nazarewicz said.

Monday that patience paid off. The facility for rare isotope beams finally got the all-clear to open its doors, marking a new chapter of research in the state and beyond. Artemis Spyrou is a Professor of Physics at MSU.

Spyrou said, “We’ve been waiting anxiously for a decade for the facility to be ready so we can use it for our experiments.”

Scientists and community members watched as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy and former Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm, cut the ribbon along with State Representative Tim Walberg. Experiments are set to start next week. These will include the study of isotopes, which are variations of elements we see in nature, such as oxygen.

But these scientists study the ones that are out of this world.

“So the ones that you can find on earth we call them common or stable isotopes and what this facility’s expertise is on the rare ones,” Spyrou said. “The ones that you cannot find on earth.”

The $730 million facility will be used to study rare isotopes to have a deeper understanding of how they can help us in areas like the medical field. The facility will also bring students and teachers together to a single facility, something that doesn’t happen often.

Spyrou said, “This is a huge advantage compared to being at a national lab where you don’t have the connection to education so we’re very excited about that as well.”

“This is a very unique facility,” Nazarewicz said. “There’s no other ... facility of this size.”

University officials say this long-awaited project will enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of scientific elements, as well as applications for society. That includes medicine, homeland security and industry.

Now, for these scientists, it’s time to get up and ‘atom.’

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