Jason Koski / Cornell Brand Communications

Cornell High Energy Synchroton Source completed their $15 mil renovations.

January 22, 2019

Lt. Gov. Heralds ‘Cutting-Edge’ Cornell X-Ray Facility Expected to Boost Local Economy

Print More


New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Ithaca Thursday to announce the completion of  $15 million in improvements to the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, a high-intensity X-ray source on campus that has been used for researching treatments for AIDS and innovation of airplane materials.

The upgrade project, called CHESS-U, was part of the New York State Upstate Revitalization Initiative and received the millions in a grant from the state, which was announced in Hochul’s last visit to Cornell in November 2017.

According to its website, CHESS’s X-ray is used for research in physics, chemistry and biology as well as in environmental and materials sciences. The work completed at CHESS has led to two Nobel Prizes, according to the Cornell Chronicle, which is run by the University.

CHESS-U “will extend CHESS’s capacity for cutting-edge, innovative science and technology,” states the project’s website.

The project itself included two major components, the first focusing on upgrading an accelerator in the Cornell Electron Storage Ring.

The second component of the project included replacing aging facility infrastructures such as power, cooling water, heating and ventilation. Facility improvements also added new X-ray beamlines and optics as well as larger containment enclosures, which allow for more sophisticated studies.

CHESS director Joel Brock predicts expanding the experimental enclosures will allow researchers to study topics such as structural materials, metal manufacturing, structural biology and superconductors.

According to Brock, CHESS-U has and will continue to have profound effects on the local region, especially on the economy. So far, 66 new people have been hired to complete the project and continued funding should sustain approximately 150 jobs in the lab.

The upgrade has also injected about $9 million into the local economy for goods and services, Brock said.

In addition, the project advanced manufacturing as CHESS’s scientists and engineers work with local manufacturing companies to build extremely precise modern particle accelerators, x-ray optics and detectors.

Brock believes CHESS-U’s success will allow Southern Tier manufacturing companies to become successful competitors in other accelerator projects across the globe.

CHESS-U has “secured CHESS’s position as a world-leading facility, ensuring that CHESS will remain competitive for continued federal funding of its operations for the next several years,” he said.