New name for SLAC designates center as national laboratory

A new name has been selected for the laboratory formerly known as the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and portions of it have a familiar ring. The official title now is the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

The echo of the old name within the new title was something many of the laboratory’s employees had hoped for when the U.S. Department of Energy announced earlier this year that there would be a name change.

The compromise name also gives the Energy Department what it wanted: the phrase “national laboratory,” which is used in the title of other Energy Department labs, such as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The name change was prompted in part by a trademark disagreement between Stanford and the Energy Department over the use of the word “Stanford” in the lab’s 46-year-old name. In the new title, “SLAC” is not longer an acronym containing “Stanford.”

In recent years, SLAC's research program has broadened from its original focus on high-energy physics to include strong photon science and particle astrophysics programs. The lab's current science programs are expanding to explore the ultimate structure and dynamics of matter and the properties of energy, space and time at the smallest and largest scales. This includes the study of ultra-fast processes in materials with a new state-of-the-art X-ray free electron laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).

"Stanford University is extremely excited with the future of discovery that SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory will enable," said Stanford President John Hennessy. "Its broadening scientific portfolio builds upon our core competencies, and the new name signifies the continued strength of our DOE collaboration."

Laboratory Director Persis Drell said the new name is "a strong bridge that connects our successful past with our tremendously exciting future. We look forward to keeping this laboratory at the forefront of innovating, building and operating accelerator-based facilities as a Department of Energy National Accelerator Laboratory."