Welcome to The Ames Laboratory

The Ames Laboratory has invented materials that impact every individual on the face of the earth. It also develops processes and tools that are used worldwide, from manufacturing to gene sequencing.  One of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 10 Office of Science national laboratories, the Ames Laboratory is located in Ames, Iowa, on the campus of Iowa State University.  Iowa State is the Lab’s contractor.

The Lab has over 450 employees, approximately 260 of whom are scientists and engineers. The Ames Lab also has approximately 300 associates, ranging from Ph.D.-seeking graduate students to distinguished external research visitors. 

The Ames Laboratory was established on May 17, 1947, following the contributions of Iowa State College to the Manhattan Project. From its earliest days, the Ames Lab worked on materials synthesis, characterization, and design, but now pursues a broader scientific agenda that addresses many areas of national concern. Research strengths include: materials science and engineering; chemical and biological sciences; environmental and protection sciences; and simulation, modeling and decision science. The Ames Lab’s Materials Preparation Center is recognized by researchers worldwide for its unique capabilities in the purification, preparation and characterization of rare earths and other materials.

The Ames Laboratory has approximately 300 collaborative relationships with scientists in academia and industry, worldwide.  Academic partners include Brown University, Purdue University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Maryland, and the Colorado School of Mines. Industrial partners include Simbol Materials, Inc. (California), GM (Michigan), Arnold Magnetics Technologies (New York), Cytec Industries (New Jersey) and Molycorp Inc. (Colorado). The Ames Lab also partners with numerous other DOE national labs.  The Laboratory has many international collaborations, including one with the Korean Institute for Industrial Technology, to promote international collaboration in rare-earth research. 

The Ames Laboratory is home to Dr. Danny Shechtman, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of quasicrystals.

As the nation’s prime resource for rare-earth research and processing, the Ames Laboratory leads the Critical Materials Institute, one of the Department of Energy’s five Energy Innovation Hubs, which will develop solutions to shortages of rare-earth metals and other materials critical for U.S. energy security. 

The Ames Lab’s lead-free solder alloy of tin-silver-copper has been universally adopted by the electronics industry as a bonding agent in all types of electronic devices from smart phones to computers. Unofficial estimates place the value of lead-free solder at approximately $1.3 billion in sales worldwide over the past two years. 

DOE’s national laboratory system contributes value to the American taxpayers by stewarding vital scientific and engineering capabilities essential to our nation’s science and technology primacy; designing, building an operating unique scientific instrumentation and facilities that serve tens of thousands of scientists and engineers from academia and industry; and promoting innovation that advances U.S. competitiveness and contributes to our nation’s future prosperity.