National MagLab to receive $184M NSF renewal grant

National High Magnetic Field Laboratory
The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory is the largest and highest-powered magnet laboratory in the world.

Lab To Remain Headquartered at Florida State University

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory will receive $184 million over the next five years from the National Science Foundation, keeping the world’s most powerful magnet lab headquartered at Florida State University.

The National Science Board authorized NSF to make the five-year award for the continuing operation of the National MagLab. This is a nearly 10 percent increase in funding over the previous five-year funding period and brings the agency’s total MagLab investment to $867 million.

“This announcement comes as a strong endorsement for the importance of high magnetic field research in America’s science portfolio,” said Greg Boebinger, National MagLab director. “The true strength of the MagLab comes from the scientific impact of our users from across the nation, users who access these magnets to make discoveries of new materials, find energy solutions and explore the science that illuminates life itself.”

This grant will sustain operation of the MagLab’s facilities at Florida State University, University of Florida and Los Alamos National Laboratory and provide continued access for more than 1,700 worldwide researchers each year who use the MagLab’s unique instruments to advance basic science, engineering and technology in the 21st century.

Those researchers come to the MagLab to access the fleet of world-record magnets, including the world’s strongest continuous high-field magnet at 45 teslas and a pulsed magnet that can repeatedly produce a magnetic field of 100 teslas — 2 million times stronger than the Earth’s. The National MagLab recently built the most powerful magnet in the world for nuclear magnetic resonance, a powerful technique biologists, chemists and materials scientists use to study complex structures, and the 32-tesla all-superconducting magnet, the first user magnet in the world to incorporate high-temperature superconducting materials.

“NSF is proud to support a facility that has broken — and holds — many world records in magnet technology,” said Anne Kinney, NSF assistant director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences. “But beyond the records, the MagLab enables the world’s scientific and engineering community to advance both fundamental science and applied research that benefits society, from next-generation electronics to cutting-edge medicine to energy-efficient systems.”

Major investments will be made to the MagLab’s user program over the next five years. New scientific instrumentation will be added to more fully realize the potential of the MagLab’s existing world-record magnets, including the three new magnets that have been launched in the past 15 months.

In addition to this large investment from the NSF, the MagLab continues to receive critical financial support from the state of Florida. Last year, the MagLab received $12 million from the state. In return for every state dollar invested in the facility, the state receives $6.57 in economic activity. Over the next 20 years, the MagLab is projected to generate about $2.4 billion in economic activity and more than 25,000 jobs in Florida.

“This one-of-a-kind facility is an important part of Florida State University and the entire Florida economy,” said Florida State Vice President for Research, Gary K. Ostrander. “This announcement means that the world’s most prestigious magnet lab will remain headquartered right here at FSU in Tallahassee, anchoring our university’s preeminent science and research efforts and facilitating discoveries that could change our world.”

Recent discoveries made using expertise and instruments available at the National MagLab offer a glimpse of the impact of the nation’s only magnet lab:

“This renewal will allow the U.S. to maintain international leadership in critical areas of magnet science and technology and to break new ground in understanding novel materials for quantum computing and information technology,” said Linda Saphochak, director of the NSF Division of Materials Research. 

This announcement concludes a multiyear process that began in 2012 with the lab preparing to defend itself in a national competition for the right to host the nation’s only magnet lab. In 2014, the MagLab was notified that the NSF would accept a renewal proposal rather than launch a national competition. 

The renewal proposal was peer reviewed by worldwide scientific and engineering experts and approved by the National Science Board, the governing board that approves major awards from the NSF.

Magnet Milestones: 

June 1994 – Homemade
The lab’s first home-built magnet reaches 27 tesla. 

March 1995 – Florida Bitter
A new 30-tesla resistive magnet uses “Florida Bitter” magnet technology and ties a world record.

December 1999 – The world’s strongest magnet
The 45-tesla hybrid reaches full field and earns certification from the Guinness Book of World Records.

July 2005 – The world’s strongest MRI machine
The 900 MHz NMR magnet is commissioned, providing researchers with 21.1 tesla to study chemical and biological systems in vivo.

March 2012 – Hitting 100 T
MagLab researchers at the Pulsed Field Facility set a new world record of 100.75 tesla using a multi-shot magnet.

November 2016 – Series Connected Hybrid
Combining tremendous strength with a high-quality field, the MagLab’s newest instrument promises big advances in interdisciplinary research.

January 2017 – Mini, but mighty magnet
A high-temperature superconducting magnet with no insulation reaches 42.5 tesla while inside a larger 31.2 resistive magnet.

August 2017 – MagLab reclaims record for strongest resistive magnet
The new 41.4-tesla instrument reclaims a title for the lab and paves the way for breakthroughs in physics and materials research.

December 2017 –  32 Tesla All-Superconducting Magnet
Made with high-temperature superconductors, the National MagLab’s newest instrument shatters a world record and opens new frontiers in science.

Read about other momentous MagLab moments –