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Transforming the Infinite Corridor

The Laboratory for Advanced Materials puts materials science and engineering research on display.
A sky view of the new Laboratory for Advanced Materials (LAM)
A sky view of the new Laboratory for Advanced Materials (LAM)
Image: Imai Keller Moore Architects

In 2005, viewers of PBS’s home-renovation program, "This Old House," saw host Kevin O’Connor wandering down the Infinite Corridor, pausing in front of a door at the junction of Building 4 and Building 8, and saying something like “Materials Science and Engineering — I wonder what goes on in here.” Starting this semester, he, and everyone else, can see.

Construction on the new Laboratory for Advanced Materials (LAM) was completed near the end of the fall semester. This lab is a shared facility for researchers from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering to pursue joint projects in interdisciplinary areas. The LAM's characterization and processing equipment complements recent acquisitions in the Center for Materials Science and Engineering and other MIT labs and centers and enables research groups to work together on new materials and processes for cross-cutting applications in challenging areas such as energy and the environment. When MIT was first built, the metallurgy labs were equipped with blast furnaces, manually operated ore crushers, and grinding stones, now this space features some of the most advanced materials experimentation equipment on the MIT campus, including a scanning acoustic microscope, a nearfield scanning optical microscope, and a cryogenic probe station.

The LAM is the third in a series of renovation projects at the eastern end of the Infinite Corridor in the Main Group that have created public-facing materials science and engineering laboratories. The first two of these projects — the NanoLab and the UnderGraduate Teaching Laboratory — replaced fixed cinderblock walls, cork-boards, and closed doors with frosted glass windows with floor-to-ceiling glass walls through which casual passersby could see researchers and students at work.

The LAM is funded by a generous gift from Vasilis, S.M. ’61 (Course X), Ph.D. ’66 (Course III), and Danae Salapatas. The retired managing director of Helliniki Halyvourgia, the first steel plant in Greece (started in 1938 and still one of the largest industrial plants in the country), Salapatas is an active member of the DMSE alumni community, a member of the department's Visiting Committee, and a generous benefactor and supporter of MIT.

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