The groundwork for the NDRL was laid in the 1940s when the U.S. government required a high-power particle accelerator for radiation research relating to the Manhattan Project — the research effort to develop the nuclear bombs used in World War II. The only suitable machine in the Chicago region was owned by the Notre Dame Physics Department, housed in what is now the LaFortune Student Center. Former Notre Dame chemistry professor Milton Burton was commissioned by the U.S. government to perform the necessary research on the effects of ionizing radiation. In 1949, Burton formally established the NDRL, and the Radiation Research Building that now houses the lab was completed in 1963, funded by the Atomic Energy Commission.The lab is now owned and primarily funded by the Office of Science within the U.S. Department of Energy. It has continued to perform research on the fundamental properties of radiation, as well as photochemical research. Ian Carmichael, NDRL Director since 2004, said the lab focuses on basic, rather than applied, research, but the research could have important applications in nuclear power.“We do basic research investigating the fundamentals of radiation chemistry and, more recently, solar photochemistry as well,” he said. “The complementary thrust to radiation chemistry is targeted at basic understanding of radiation, but also to the impact of radiation chemistry on nuclear power, such as radiation degradation of reactor materials, very hot water in reactors and so on.”While the Department of Energy is the main source of grant funding, Carmichael said the NDRL has received smaller grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. military and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among other organizations. While the lab was previously operated on a government contract, Carmichael said that since 2004 there has been a cooperative agreement in place between the University and the government.The NDRL houses a linear particle accelerator, as well as several Van de Graaff accelerators. Additionally, the lab has a scientific glassblower and a machinist on staff who provide specialty components and equipment maintenance to the NDRL and other science departments on campus. Radiation research remains the lab’s focus, Carmichael said, but photochemical research has become a secondary aim of the lab in recent years. Andrew Cameron | The Observer Assistant research professor Aliaksandra Lisouskaya works on the Notre Dame Radiation Lab’s linear particle accelerator. “Maybe 25% of our resources go towards our solar photochemistry program,” Carmichael said. “That includes trying to understand the fundamentals of solar cells. The big thing in solar energy nowadays is Perovskite solar cells, and we have a program trying to figure out what goes wrong … for some reason they work very well but they don’t last very long, so we’re trying to figure out why they break down and how we can stop that.”The remainder of the resources are dedicated to radiation-related matters, Carmichael said.“The rest goes towards radiation chemistry, which is the high-energy electrons, the gamma rays and so on,” he said. “We’re looking at the effects of stress and radiation-enhanced corrosion on aqueous solutions mainly, but also in materials in aqueous solution in nuclear reactors. Why reactors only live for 40 years, for example.”Carmichael noted the NDRL has never done classified work, partly because the building does not meet the necessary security standards.Aliaksandra Lisouskaya received her Ph.D. in Belarus and is now working as an assistant research professor at Notre Dame, conducting research on radiation chemistry and photochemistry at the NDRL. The equipment available at the NDRL, she said, offers unique research opportunities.“You can find linacs [linear particle accelerators] at other places, but here there is just much more,” Lisouskaya said.While the NDRL doesn’t build devices or research potential applications, Carmichael said it has made valuable contributions to science.“Over the years, we’ve published perhaps 5,000 papers from NDRL in all kinds of journals,” Carmichael said. “Many of these papers have had a huge impact, but we’re not here to promote anything in particular.”Tags: NDRL, Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory, Radiation Research Building To many students, the nondescript concrete building on Library Quad is little more than a source of vague rumors. Its exterior ornamentation consists solely of block letters reading “Radiation Research.”Contrary to campus legends, the Radiation Research Building, housing the Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory (NDRL), may not have 26 stories reaching underground, but what it does have is a world-class array of particle accelerators, lasers, spectrometers and other specialized equipment for probing the secrets of energy and matter. Andrew Cameron | The Observer The control room of the linear particle accelerator allows researchers to remotely control the accelerator from outside the chamber. Particle accelerators are used to monitor the radiation released when particles collide with a target, allowing researchers to gain insight into the composition of subatomic particles.
The European Commission announced it has opened an in-depth investigation into tax exemptions granted under Italian law to ports amid concerns of competition distortion.The EU investigation is to determine whether the tax exemptions are in line with EU State aid rules.The Commission also welcomed the commitment made by Spain to abolish the tax exemption benefiting Spanish ports as from 2020, allowing the Commission to close the procedure concerning Spain.“If port operators generate profits from economic activities these should be taxed in the same way of other companies under the normal national tax laws to avoid distortions of competition,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said.As explained by the Commission, the commercial operation of port infrastructure, such as providing paid access to the port, constitutes an economic activity and EU State aid rules apply to these activities.A corporate tax exemption for ports that earn profits from economic activities provides them with a competitive advantage when they operate on the internal market and therefore involves State aid, which may not be compatible with EU rules.In Italy, port authorities are fully exempt from corporate income tax.In Spain, port authorities are currently exempt from corporate income tax on their main sources of revenue, such as port fees or income from rental or concession contracts. In the Basque Country, port authorities are currently fully exempt from corporate income tax.In January 2019, the Commission invited Italy and Spain to adapt their legislation in order to ensure that ports, as from January 1, 2020, would pay corporate tax in the same way as other companies in Italy and Spain, respectively, in line with EU State aid rules.Contrary to Spain, Italy has not agreed to change its corporate tax legislation as the Commission proposed in its January 2019 decision. For this reason, the Commission has now opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether or not its initial concerns as regards the compatibility of the tax exemptions for Italian ports with EU State aid rules are confirmed.If they are, the corporate tax exemption for ports in Italy would also amount to “existing aid”, since they already existed before the accession of Italy to the EU and the Commission would not be able to ask Italy to recover any aid already granted.The Commission went on to explain that removing tax advantages does not mean that ports can no longer receive State support. Member States have many possibilities to support ports in line with EU State aid rules, for example to achieve EU transport objectives or to put in place necessary infrastructure investments which would not have been possible without public aid.This means that member states can invest up to EUR 150 million (USD 165.9 million) in sea ports and up to EUR 50 million (USD 55.3 million) in inland ports with full legal certainty and without prior verification by the Commission. The regulation allows public authorities to, for example, cover the costs of dredging in ports and access waterways.