History & Growth Plan

The Ion Beam Lab's History & Impact 

The Ion Beam Lab (IBL) was established in 1970 to explore the field of neutron physics. Its research focus has since shifted to solid-state physics and material science. 

For more than 50 years, researchers from academic institutions, private industry and federal research organizations have used the IBL to intentionally modify material structure and properties via ion irradiation and implantation, as well as quantitively characterize and analyze the impact of such material modifications on their physical, optical and electronic properties.  

Through its unique capabilities, the IBL has supported research and manufacturing at numerous industry partners and universities worldwide. Its six customized beamlines have enabled amazing experiments involving biological, chemical and semiconducting samples and devices. 

In recent years, our facility, equipment and techniques have been used to investigate charge migration in Lithium-ion batteries (funded by BMW), radiation hardening of electronics used in satellites and spacecrafts, the development of neutron cancer therapy and more.

Research performed at the IBL has been funded by various federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Defense. Many projects have been supported by small and large industries and foundations. 

The IBL has also contributed to the education of countless scientists who make up an essential core of current scientific and industrial communities. IBL alumni hold critical scientific and technical positions at organizations such as IBM, Intel, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Global Foundries, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and NASA. 


Dr. William Langford gestures as he speaks to a group of students touring the Ion Beam Lab.


Our Growth Plan 

The Ion Beam Lab (IBL) is committed to providing unique, modern services to the scientific community and its related industries.

To continue to offer these services, remain a Center of Excellence and a national resource, the IBL's staff is starting to implement necessary enhancements to its instrumentation, control electronics and user interface.

The IBL’s growth plan is synergistic with the impending revitalization of the US semiconductor manufacturing industry under the recently passed CHIPS act. 

Enhancements essential to expanding IBL’s capabilities include: 

  • Upgrading the vacuum, control and measurement systems of the Dynamitron 4 MeV accelerator, to enable the IBL to better support future technology development and prepare for the next generation of the technological revolution in chip manufacturing.

  • Designing and constructing a low-energy ion implant accelerator to simulate the impact of solar winds on material and devices used in space vehicles and satellites, which would satisfy a specific requirement of the space weather (SW) community that is currently unmet.

    Simulating the solar wind, which has damaging effects on communication, navigation, power grids and national security, is essential for the next generation of space missions, space defense and Earth-orbiting satellites. Implanting Hydrogen and Helium at very low energies is a difficult task. Consequently, low energy implantation is not currently available anywhere in the world. The proposed accelerator would fill this gap. 

  • Obtaining an X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer, a valuable tool for atomic-level material analysis and investigating the impact of ion implantation on wafers, which would enhance the IBL’s material analysis capabilities.

    Such a system is required when analyzing the bulk composition of materials. The current accelerator-based methods, such as Particle Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE), only reveal near-surface composition. X-ray fluorescence applications span diverse fields such as art history, physics, chemistry, biology, material science, archeology and the search for Dark Matter.

The IBL has a worldwide reputation as a premier ion beam facility and is known for operating at the leading edge of advanced materials research. UAlbany has the accelerators and technical know-how to provide the types of services required in the future.  

A modest investment in IBL’s upgrade would yield disproportionate benefits to the larger research community.