Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton has been selected as the site for a planned major new nuclear physics research facility that will cost between $1.6 and $2.6 billion over the next 10 years, the U.S. Department of Energy announced today.

The Electron Ion Collider — using the infrastructure of the current Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, the latter of which will be gradually phased out and retired by 2024, Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar said on a call, according to Newsday — will smash electrons into protons and heavier atomic nuclei in an effort to penetrate the mysteries of the “strong force” that binds the atomic nucleus together.

“The EIC promises to keep America in the forefront of nuclear physics research and particle accelerator technology, critical components of overall U.S. leadership in science,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, in a statement. “This facility will deepen our understanding of nature and is expected to be the source of insights ultimately leading to new technology and innovation.”

“America is in the golden age of innovation, and we are eager to take this next step with EIC. The EIC will not only ensure U.S. leadership in nuclear physics, but the technology developed for EIC will also support potential tremendous breakthroughs impacting human health, national competitiveness, and national security,” added Dabbar. “We look forward to our continued world-leading scientific discoveries in conjunction with our international partners.”

The EIC’s high luminosity and highly polarized beams will push the frontiers of particle accelerator science and technology and provide unprecedented insights into the building blocks and forces that hold atomic nuclei together, officials said.  

Design and construction of an EIC was recommended by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science, noting that such a facility “would maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear physics” and “help to maintain scientific leadership more broadly.” Plans for an EIC were also endorsed by the federal Nuclear Science Advisory Committee.

“The Department is excited to be moving forward with an Electron Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory,” stated Office of Science Director Dr. Chris Fall. “However, participation from many parts of the DOE laboratory complex will be essential if the EIC is to be a success.”

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, VA will be a major partner in realizing the EIC, and several other DOE laboratories are expected to contribute to EIC construction and to the groundbreaking nuclear physics research program that will be accomplished there.

“This cutting edge project will inject billions of dollars and an extensive number of jobs into New York’s First Congressional District, all while churning out scores of scientific discoveries that help us understand the world around us, harness the untapped potential of the natural world and, from human health to our national security and beyond, benefit nearly every aspect of our lives,” U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin said in a statement. Furthermore, this never-before-seen technology will make BNL and NY-1 a destination for the next generation of scientists, attracting some of our world’s best and brightest.”

Funding for the EIC is subject to annual appropriations by Congress. 

Above: The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory will provide crucial infrastructure for the new Electron Ion Collider.