General Information

Top of Page

Core Capabilities

Brookhaven's Unique Strengths

Brookhaven Lab’s research themes stem directly from our traditional strengths and core capabilities. Our combination of facilities, people, and equipment plays a unique and often world-leading role in addressing national needs that include advancing our fundamental understanding of the universe, developing the breakthrough technology of tomorrow, and educating the next generation of scientists. These capabilities enable Brookhaven to deliver transformational science and technology aligned with the mission of the U.S. Department of Energy.


In addition to our major research activities, we have expertise and smaller programs in a range of areas including accelerator science and technology, biological imaging, homeland and national security, and advanced computation.

> Related Expertise
particle physics

Particle Physics

We provide intellectual and technical leadership in key particle physics experiments that seek answers to seminal questions about the composition and evolution of the universe, from the smallest building blocks of matter to the mysteries of deep space. Our scientists are hunting for the fundamental source of mass, the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and the origin of the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe.

> Physics of the Universe

particle physics

Nuclear Physics

Brookhaven conducts pioneering explorations of the most fundamental aspects of matter governed by the theory of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), which describes the interactions of subatomic quarks and gluons through nature’s strongest force. Heavy-ion collisions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) probe matter at temperatures and densities representative of the early universe, mere microseconds after the dawn of time. RHIC results have led to unexpected discoveries about the nature of the infant universe and to profound intellectual connections between other physics frontiers, including String Theory and condensed matter systems.

> Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider> QCD Matter

accelerator technology

Accelerator Science and Technology

Our long-standing expertise in accelerator science has advanced the design of groundbreaking machines around the world, beginning with the Cosmotron in 1948 and now including RHIC and NSLS-II. Many of the world’s most powerful and productive accelerator facilities incorporate technologies first designed and tested at Brookhaven, where the next generation of discovery instruments continue to be developed.

> Accelerator Applications> Accelerators: A National Resource

condensed matter physics

Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science

Brookhaven conducts world-leading fundamental research focused on understanding and designing new and improved materials for applications in renewable energy, energy storage, and energy efficiency. These include high-temperature superconductors for carrying electric current with perfect efficiency and new materials for solar cells and electronics. Brookhaven research combines scientific, university, and industry expertise with our unique suite of complementary facilities for synthesizing new materials and studying their properties. These programs link basic science with industrial applications, bridging the gap between discovery and deployment of game-changing technology.

chemical and molecular science

Chemical and Molecular Science

Brookhaven researchers conduct fundamental chemistry experiments and develop theoretical and computational approaches to revealing the scientific basis for the development of new energy sources, superior energy storage, and more efficient use of energy. Our leading expertise in catalysis, chemical dynamics, and radiation chemistry builds the foundation for breakthroughs in technology ranging from electric vehicles to grid-scale storage. 

climate science

Climate Change Science

We seek to better understand the effects of greenhouse gases, aerosols, and clouds on Earth’s climate. Research includes partnering with the Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility; designing and conducting global change experiments that explore the effects of increased carbon dioxide; studying the formation, growth, and optical properties of clouds and aerosols; providing data to improve large-scale climate models; and probing the consequences of CO2 sequestration on molecular scale geology. Brookhaven scientists use high performance computing systems and close collaborations with researchers from universities and other National Laboratories and institutions to model these complex and critical challenges.

> Environmental Sciences

biological systems

Biological Systems Science

Our researchers study complex biological systems—from the molecular scale to the organism level—with a particular emphasis on using plants to advance missions of energy and environmental sustainability. Brookhaven expertise includes investigating structures of individual proteins, revealing the interactions within protein complexes, measuring and modeling metabolic changes in single cells and tissues, and studying genetic mechanisms in plants. These combined research efforts will help increase plant growth and enable the development of superior biofuel crops.

> Biosciences

applied nuclear science

Applied Nuclear Science and Technology

Brookhaven’s expertise in nuclear science runs the gamut from medicine to national security. We play a critical role in preparing radioisotopes otherwise unavailable to the nuclear medicine community and industry. We also have extensive expertise in nuclear safeguards, security policy, and energy policy. The Lab’s efforts have broad application in materials and chemical sciences, nuclear nonproliferation, materials protection and control, advanced radiation detector development, and scientific and technical assistance to the Radiological Assistance Program (RAP). Brookhaven is also a critical player in the New York Energy Policy Institute (NYEPI), which assists government agencies and officials with critical energy decisions.

materials science

Applied Materials Science and Engineering

As an extension of our expertise in condensed matter physics and materials science, we have a concentrated effort aimed at developing materials for new energy technologies. These include strongly correlated/complex materials and nanomaterials that are at the heart of renewable energy technologies. For example, in order to understand the route to versatile, room-temperature superconductors, Brookhaven conducts experimental and theoretical research to design, synthesize, understand, predict, and ultimately enhance the properties of these complex materials, particularly for the storage and transmission of electrical energy.

chemical engineering

Chemical Engineering

Brookhaven has a small but growing effort in applied chemical research that transforms scientific discoveries into deployable technologies. Basic research in surface electrochemistry and electrocatalysis—including atomic-level surface characterization with x-rays at the National Synchrotron Light Source—has matured into the design of efficient catalysts for electric vehicle fuel cells. The scaling up of some of these materials is already successfully underway with major industrial partners. 

systems engineering

Systems Engineering and Integration

Brookhaven Lab’s cutting-edge experiments often require custom-built machinery and electronics. Many individual facility components—including accelerators, detectors, and beamlines—that are conceived, designed, and implemented at Brookhaven are complex entities, requiring broad expertise for their successful performance and integration with other systems. Brookhaven’s skill at managing these large-scale projects extends not only to engineering at the various stages of an experiment, but also to developing new, cutting-edge technologies that fuel multiple large collaborations throughout the Lab.

user facilities

Large-Scale User Facilities / Advanced Instrumentation

From the beginning, Brookhaven has provided user facilities that individual institutions could not afford and would not have the range of expertise required to develop on their own. These include: the National Synchrotron Light Source, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory, the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron, the Tandem Van de Graaff Accelerators, the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, and the Accelerator Test Factility, the RHIC-ATLAS Computing Facility, and the US ATLAS Analysis Support Center. When it opens, NSLS-II will be the newest and brightest member of the Department of Energy’s suite of advanced light sources, and is expected to serve more than 3,500 users annually when fully operational. We also continue to make critical contributions to international facilities including the Large Hadron Collider, Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.