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Users’ committee meeting report - Tallahassee, Nov. 2-3, 2001

Members present:
Roy Goodrich (12/03) (elected chair), Bill Halperin (12/01) (outgoing chair), Steve Hill (12/02) (elected secretary), Martin Kushmeric (12/01), Nat Fortune (12/03), Neil Kelleher (12/04), Ward Beyermann (12/02), George Schmiedeshoff (12/02), Larry Rubin, (12/01), Tom Timusk (12/03).

Members absent:
Stuart Brown (12/01), Michelle Buchanan (12/01), Jim Prestegard (12/01), Marion Thurnauer (12/01).
The end of each member’s term is indicated.

Update on the Tallahassee DC High Field Facilities (Jack Crow, Bruce Brandt, John Miller and Mark Bird)

The state of the user program is very healthy in terms of hiring of user support staff. Also, user support staff and laboratory scientists are participating more and more in actual research, including their own projects. There are two new technical staff supported for the resistive/supercon program in Tallahassee (April Teske and Gordon Armstrong). Two new scholar scientists will support users in Tallahassee (Luis Balicas, high pressure and STM; and Sergei Zvyagin, VHF for EPR in the resistive magnets).

The hybrid is operating as originally proposed thanks to an upgraded insert that compensates for the superconducting outsert’s less than optimal performance. 45 T experiments are now possible and are available to the user community. Also, the portable dilution fridge allows measurements down to 50mK in the hybrid, and lower temperatures have been achieved in the purely resistive magnets.

Instrumentation upgrades discussed:

Major Tallahassee facility upgrades proposed by Jack Crow

I. Funded

  1. Hybrid insert and repair outsert
  2. Increase 2_50mm bore resistive magnets to 32 T
  3. 50ppm 29 T NMR magnet in Cell 7
  4. 32mm 36T magnets in Cells 8, 9 and 12
  5. Upgrade Keck in Cell 6 to 1ppm
  6. Gradient, Modulation, Shimming in Cell 5

II. Funded new project

  1. Transverse field magnet (several possibilities):
    1. Resistive split-pair
    2. Superconducting split-pair
    3. Novel tilted coil magnet

III. Unfunded

  1. NMR series-connected hybrid
  2. 70 T long pulse magnet for LANL
  3. 25 T superconducting research magnet
  4. 1 GHz NMR magnet

The committee recommends that priority be assigned to the funded upgrades according to the numbering above; field upgrades should be phased in, i.e. not all 33T to 36T at once. Committee also STRONGLY urges the NHMFL proceed with the resistive split-pair magnet as soon as possible _ preferably in parallel with the funded upgrades. The resistive split-pair is clearly the cheapest option, and can be constructed in the least amount of time. This project is way over due, and the users’ committee views on this have not changed over the past several users’ meetings. This is the only funded new project, and may be the only new magnet the lab has to showcase at the next renewal. If the lab feels that other options should be explored, then the committee urges the lab to justify each option in terms of potential scientific impact, and organize a workshop to discuss the various possibilities and the science that can be achieved with each.

The NHMFL will be subjected to an interim review during May of 2002. Jack Crow is extremely concerned about this review and feels the lab needs to put in a similar effort as for the renewal reviews. It is apparent that the state of the solution NMR program is the reason for this review. The committee would like to see the NHMFL develop plans in the event that any part of the review is unfavorable. Committee members also offered any/all assistance that may be needed at that review, as well as representing the lab at NSF. A letter is to be sent to the Director from the committee chair to emphasize this point.

Finally - the committee expressed concern about the Tallahassee lab’s ability to maintain the power supply and cooling system. The committee strongly urges that the facility be professionally evaluated by an outside agency in order to provide advice and to help pre-empt the possibility of major failures in the near future.

Pulsed field facility

The lab has made major strides in recent few years. Exciting new instrumentation has been put into place: pulsed field thermal measurements; coherent terahertz spectroscopy; r.f. penetration depth capabilities; and millimeter-wave spectroscopy has also been demonstrated.

The failure mode of the 60T long pulse magnet is now fully understood. Steps have been taken in the new design to prevent future similar failure. New construction is on track.

Development is being considered of an ultra-high field, very-short pulse, single turn pulsed facility. This project is very exciting.

The User Committee urges the NHMFL to explore rapid cool down short-pulsed field magnets, allowing more frequent pulses at slightly compromised fields: There are many types of measurements that when conducted in series require small changes in experimental parameters between shots, i.e., temperature changes, voltage changes, sample rotation, etc. Therefore, much more complete data could be obtained with shorter cool down times (10 – 15 min.) than are now available, approximately 30 min. This short cool down time, would greatly improve efficiency for many users.

High B/T facility

Several major experiments over the past two years have been successfully completed. The lab is suffering from the failure of the magnet to achieve 20T, as originally expected, delivering only 15T instead. Nevertheless, it is clear that the facility is world class.

The major drawback is the uncertainty and long waiting time for obtaining access to the facility. No clear ideas were put forward as to how this situation could be avoided or improved. Only a few groups can afford to work under these constraints; not an ideal scenario for young researchers. The Lab and the User Committee needs to evaluate this situation possibly by soliciting advice from a panel of external experts. Is there any way to make high B/T, or some less ambitious version, more accessible to the NHMFL user base, e.g. not quite so low-T, but still a high B?

Should NHMFL resources be prioritized for future upgrade to 20T or higher. This has not been addressed by the committee but should be over the next year.

900 MHZ NMR magnet

The 900 MHz wide-bore NMR magnet is ready to be tested. Bucket testing is imminent, and transfer to a permanent dewar is scheduled for next summer - unfortunately after the May NSF review. It is essential that the bucket test be successful. Can they do any science in the bucket test in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the system?

NMR Program

The Tallahassee solution NMR program seems a little thin on users. Efforts are in place to attract new users. An NMR workshop in Tallahassee was suggested as a means of showcasing the lab’s capabilities.

The search for a world-class NMR specialist has been unsuccessful. The User Committee urges the laboratory to continue their commitment to this objective. The current plan is to bring people in on sabbaticals to use the facilities and spread the word about the lab.

One of the strengths of this part of the laboratory is the development of specialized probe intrumentation for unique experiments. Specific expertise can serve as a centerpiece of a growing laboratory reputation, for example structural biology and materials chemistry.

ICR program

This program will soon be reviewed together with the whole lab, i.e. funds will be allocated from NSF at the same time as the renewal proposal. The program appears to be self sufficient and extremely successful.

Neil Kelleher expressed concerns about cuts in the budget for visitors which, he claimed, would really hurt the ICR users’ program. An appeal from the User’s Committee will be directed at the State of Florida.

EMR program

Several new spectrometers have been purchased for use in the Keck magnet. These will be operated by a new scholar scientist (Sergei Zvyagin). Also, NHMFL is in partnership with QMC instruments making quasi-optical instruments for high field EPR. Home built, 100+ GHz pulsed EPR may be on the horizon. Limited use of a commercial 95GHz pulsed EPR spectrometer is available to users.

There is no EMR representation on the users’ committee at this time.

Obtaining competitive funding for projects:

The availability of human resources for magnet development at the lab will come under threat if no new projects are funded by 2003/2004. This is critical, and the user committee must bring this to the attention of the users. New projects must be submitted for funding consideration outside of the current budget for the laboratory. The Lab and the User Committee needs to find ways to jump start this process, i.e. which projects do we focus on first and why. Who submits proposals, where do matching funds come from are some of the issues?

Major new magnet projects or other infrastructural and capital intensive programs that were cut from the renewal proposal must be separately submitted to the NSF. They will be reviewed by NSF, though not in competition with other proposals; The committee believes no matching is required for these. All other ideas must go through regular NSF programs, e.g. IMR/MRI. Jack Crow will talk to FSU about trying to ensure that one NHMFL proposal is approved at the institutional level each year. The Lab and the User Committee must institute a plan to choose the most competitive proposal in each go around.

Immediate committee actions:

Bill Halperin will write a letter to Jack Crow conveying the committee’s view of the ideal interaction between the users’ committee and the director of the NHMFL concerning planning and giving advice consistent with the bylaws as proposed.

The user committee passed motions to send two letters:

a) To NSF, detailing our concerns about increased energy costs at the lab, pointing out that the NSF has a responsibility to cover these extra costs which could cripple operations over the coming few years. Congress will likely pass a bill providing funds to cover increased energy costs at national labs.

b) To the FL legislature, detailing our concerns about cost cutting in the wake of the Sept. 11th tragedy. The lab’s visiting scientist program is being put at risk by these cuts; this program is essential to the long term well being of the lab and the future of science and economic growth in FL. Jack Crow points out that cuts in times of need are rarely given back in times of prosperity.

Tom Timusk plans to solicit opinions from the optics community about what would be the best course of action for improving the optics facilities at the lab. Opinions were expressed that past efforts were not well conceived. The User Committee should try to evaluate this situation by soliciting expert opinion, possibly by a panel of external experts. Leaders in the field should be brought on board, e.g. Dimitri Basov (IR/FIR). Almost certainly, proposals will need to be submitted to NSF to upgrade existing facilities.

The Committee still needs to prioritize a list of unfunded magnet development projects which will or have been put forward as possible candidates for federal grant applications; this was not completed owing to lack of time.


Do not cut visitor program (see comments in the ICR section above).

Change format of the users’ committee meetings so that the committee has more time for private discussion at the end. 45 minutes at the end of a packed schedule is not sufficient.

The committee should convene for an extra meeting each year by conference call.

The chair of the User Committee can encourage members who have not attended for several meetings to step-down from the committee so that their effective vacancy can be filled.


The Committee reviewed the current bylaws as well as suggestions proposed by Bruce Brandt for their revision. After some debate a new set of bylaws was adopted as attached, pending final approval of the User Committee at its next meeting.

Proposed Users' Committee By-Laws National High Magnetic Field Laboratory

The Users’ Committee for the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory is an elected council, established by the NSF Cooperative Agreement. Members will reflect a broad range of users of all the NHMFL facilities.

The general functions of the NHMFL Users’ Committee will be accomplished through the following actions:

  1. To provide guidance to the Director of the NHMFL on priorities for the development of new facilities and capabilities.
  2. Advise the Director of the NHMFL and the Directors of its various Facilities on any issue of interest to the facility’s users.
  3. Solicit comments and suggestions from the user community for improved operations, facilities and equipment and present these to the Director.
  4. The Committee Chair or designee will represent users at NSF reviews of the facilities, External Advisory Committee meetings, and other situations when needed.
  5. Recommend workshops on emerging and important areas.
  6. Prepare an annual report to be submitted to the Director.
Selection and Term of Office of Users’ Committee Members:
  1. Thirteen members of the Users’ Committee serve staggered three-year terms. They are nominated in response to an invitation sent to all past and present users of the NHMFL by the Secretary of the Committee or an NHMFL staff person acting at the request of the Secretary. They are elected by an electronic ballot sent to the same group of users. The ballot should separately specify the candidates for four positions to include users with expertise in magnetic resonance in biology and chemistry: ICR, EMR, NMR, and MRI.
  2. There can be at most one member per institution having an affiliation with NHMFL, FSU, UF, FAMU, and LANL provided they are not paid by NHMFL. Users who are paid by NHMFL are ineligible.
  3. If a vacancy occurs during the term of a member, the Chair in consultation with the Director of the NHMFL can appointment a member to fill that vacancy.
The Users’ Committee elects its Chair and Secretary at the annual meeting and serves for one year beginning at the end of the annual meeting, and may serve a second term if re-elected.

The annual meeting will rotate among the NHMFL sites in Tallahassee, Los Alamos, and Gainesville.
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