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MIT LIGO Group Settles Into New Home

MIT LIGO Group Settles Into New Home

- Contributed by David Shoemaker

Figure 1 After many months of planning and preparation, the MIT LIGO group has moved into its new lab and office space on the MIT campus. Its previous home was Building 20, visible in Figure 1 at left, which was constructed to house the radar development effort during WWII and was afterwards the home of the Radiation Lab for many years. Figure 2 Toward the end of its life a broad range of activities were tucked away: the language lab, nervous frog research, ROTC, the model train club, the central machine shop, and our group--all happily coexisting. But in the coming months the building will be demolished to make room for a new computer science building to be designed by Frank Geary.

Meanwhile, our new building--NW17, at 175 Albany Street in Cambridge--actually resembles Building 20 in its basic construction. It was built early this century to house part of a large bread factory. As Figure 2 at right reveals, it's a three-floor wooden frame building but with an attractive brick facing and nicely rebuilt interior. Our group occupies all of the basement, where our lab is located, and parts of the upper two floors for our offices and public spaces. The overall floor space is similar to what we had in Building 20, but the similarities end there.

Figure 3 The offices are air conditioned, carpeted, and hardwired for data. (Some though are a bit oddly shaped and feel a little prison-like--see Figure 3 at left.) We have a meeting room and kitchen, and a space actually designed for our administrative support. The lab space was laid out from scratch for our needs. Overpressured HEPA filtered air feeds all the labs. All the surfaces are fresh and clean, so we can keep the spaces about as dust-free as our procedures allow.

Figure 4 The high-bay, shown in Figure 4 at right, is an especially important and wonderful part of the new lab. It is planned to accommodate the new MIT Test Interferometer consisting of a LIGO Beam Splitter Chamber, three Horizontal Access Module chambers, and connecting tubes to form a 15m L-shaped system. As mentioned in earlier LIGO Newsletters, this system will allow full-scale suspension and isolation tests for advanced LIGO (and any support of LIGO 1 we can offer there). A system of travelling cranes allows the most to be made of the 23-foot ceiling height. Small experiments to be performed in portions of what was previously Phase Noise Interferometer vacuum equipment are now being set up in corners of the lab. The large vacuum system will be installed some time in late autumn and then this once huge-seeming space will be suddenly cut down to size.

We will miss the mice, the mess, and all the rest of Building 20---but are very pleased to be in our new lab.