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This is an exciting time for Ames Laboratory! In January, we were notified that we had submitted the “winning” proposal to operate the DOE’s latest Energy Innovation Hub that will focus on critical materials. Ames Laboratory and its partners, a combination of national laboratories, university and industrial researchers,  are working to launch the Critical Materials Institute, a $120-million, five-year program focused on technologies that will make better use of the materials we have access to, as well as eliminate the need for materials that are subject to supply disruptions.

From its beginning, Ames Lab has focused on developing and processing critical materials. Its six-decade-plus history of working with a group of materials called the rare earths  has resulted in expertise that covers the entire materials life cycle.  In this issue of Inquiry, we highlight the Critical Materials Institute, what the various partners bring to the table and how the institute will work to advance new materials and technologies to make them available to meet the country’s energy needs.
In landing the Critical Materials Institute, Ames Laboratory is experiencing a somewhat unanticipated change in leadership. Ames Laboratory Director Alex King has elected to step down from that position in order to devote his full-time efforts to leading the CMI.

The visibility of the Ames Laboratory’s
research and its scientific impact has
increased within the Department of
Energy and around the world.
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I have been appointed to temporarily serve as Ames Lab’s director, and it is an honor to have the opportunity to serve the Lab through this leadership transition period.

Over the past few years, the Lab has seen its scientific programs steadily strengthen as research programs in both fundamental sciences and applied technologies have expanded.  The visibility of the Laboratory’s research and its scientific impact has increased within DOE and around the world.  DOE is addressing Ames Laboratory’s need for a building to house our most sensitive scientific instruments.

During this transition period, we face several challenges over the next year. First and foremost is the search for and selection of a new laboratory director; second, the launch of the Critical Materials Institute; and third, to maintain the current momentum of our core programs.

I will focus my efforts in these areas as well as several other ongoing efforts, including the completion of the Sensitive Instrument Facility; developing plans for the conceptual design of a new building for our computational efforts; and continuation of the acquisition of state-of-the-art characterization equipment, which is essential for Ames Laboratory to continue its scientific leadership in key areas.  Clearly, these are exciting times for the Ames Laboratory.

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