Cambridge Polymer Labs
Cambridge Polymer Labs
Background[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Cambridge Polymer Labs, LLC
Cambridge Polymer Labs, LLC was a privately-owned company established by Jon Elwood, Ericka Elwood-Woolum, and Wilfred Bergman in 2074 to research experimental smart materials that could be used to enhance the functionality of existing suits of power armor. It was made possible by a generous grant from Colonel George Kemp and the Defense Experimental Research Project Initiative, after their research into nucleostrictive and piezoelectric polymers caught their eye.
Its last military contract before the war was the development of piezonucleic lining for power armor, allowing the power armor's lining to convert ionizing radiation into electrical energy fed directly into the suit's batteries. Initial studies led the research team under Jon's wife, D.Eng Ericka Elwood-Woolum, to hypothosize that by taking a known piezoelectric material, Lead Zirconium Titanite (PZT), and properly applying a polymer of Gold and Lithium Hydride might produce the desired effect. Initial tests proved the method had been sound. Unfortunately, the weave destroyed itself rapidly, making it unsuitable for extended deployment. The team changed the dosing pattern on the gold to produce thinner strands through the material. The increased surface area would help dissipate the thermal energy, much like a heat sink.
This approach successfully created an efficient material with a lifetime of years, rather than days, at a negligible cost to harvest rate. Colonel George Kemp, the military liaison for the project, rejected it out of hand, as the new material shredded under intense use. It was unsuitable for use as power armor lining and the Colonel threatened to pull funding. The team returned to the drawing board. The Colonel's anger in each conversation with the project leads was his character flaw. As such, when he called the Laboratory for a status update in the morning of 23 October 2077, Elwood immediately picked up on his unusual calm. The Colonel, well aware of the incoming nuclear warheads, requested that Elwood keep his team working in the lab until the project was completed.
Nuclear war comes[edit | edit source]
He soon realized that it was a warning. Although Cambridge received a direct nuclear hit, the laboratory building was spared the nuclear devastation, thanks to other buildings shielding it from the blast and its own reinforced structure. Elwood immediately issued an e-mail to the entire team, mandating overtime and lying that the project was nearing completion (leaning on his wife's authority) and promising coffee, donuts, and Spuckies for the entire team to breeze them over. As for what was happening outside? That was just training exercises performed by the United States military. In the meantime, he scrambled to find a ham radio and reestablish contact with the military, as all external connections were fried by the EMP. Only one person on the team was privy to the truth: His wife. He asked her to maintain the lie to avoid a panic among the researchers and ensure the completion of the project, as it was the only thing the military was willing to accept in return for extraction. Conning them was out of the question, as lying about the possession of vital military assets or intelligence was tantamount to treason. Despite the assurance, Ericka was still skeptical: They've been working on the problem for weeks and were unable to find a way to prevent the nanoweave from falling apart under the strain of use. Even if they found a solution, it could take days to program the new dosing pattern. The lie couldn't hold up that long and even if it did, she questioned the morality of keeping them away from their families in a time of need. However, she eventually went through with this plan.
She wasn't aware that Jon was shot while scavenging for the radio and supplies. A stray bullet hit him in the shoulder on the way back, compounded by his exposure to nuclear fallout. He decided to keep the team sealed inside the lab, even as tensions inside the laboratory increased and his condition worsened. The wound refused to heal on its own. Days of extended isolation wore the researchers down and the promises of being released home when the project was completed started to look like a thinly veiled lie issued by an insane slave driver. The team was rapidly fracturing and falling apart, with some trying to escape the lab on their own. Some of the staffers tried to drill through the clean room to get out of the laboratories, stopping at the hardened outer wall that was impervious to their tools. Wilfred Bergman, an Anchorage veteran and a talented IT specialist took the isolation particularly hard and started discussing taking a more oblique angle. His deteriorating mental state was an Eureka moment for Ericka. In order to solve the thermal dissipation problem, the team could attempt to change the dosing pattern so that it would produce nanoholes angled towards the surface. That way, the material might be able to reflect the most direct radioactive particles and trap only those coming in at an oblique angle to the material. It would achieve a lower energy harvest, but the heat dissipation issues would likely be solved.
Death[edit | edit source]
Unfortunately, it came too late to save the research team. Months of seclusion and exhaustion caused Bergman to snap when he realized that radiation has been seeping into the laboratory area, courtesy of its internal reactor. The shockwave cracked the containment lining, endangering the entire team, but Jon Elwood still refused to unlock the clean room. In desperation, Bergman started hacking through security protocols to seize control over the facility and release the entire team. Elwood tried to keep him at bay, but his condition deteriorated rapidly, as the festering wound in his shoulder turned septic. Elwood tried to discourage him, mocking Bergman's service in Alaska during the Anchorage Reclamation as a distraction and claiming the intrusion countermeasures installed by the CIT were undefeatable. The confrontation between them doomed the research team. Bergman locked down the isotope containment room to contain what he believed to be the source of the radiation and demonstrate his ability to Elwood, inadvertently dooming Mary Goodman to death of radiation poisoning and locking the team out of the only source of U-238 needed to complete the project. If Elwood did not release the team from their dungeon, he would trigger a security breach alert in the laboratories. In doing so, the facility's defense systems would activate and initiate a sweep of the area, attempting to destroy any intruders (i.e. the science team), but also releasing the locks on the clean room and other doors. Bergman was the only one with military training. The rest of the science team was terrified, particularly when he refused to believe that the completion of the project would result in Jon letting them go.
It was January 16, 2078 when the hammer fell. Jon Elwood was dead, unable to meet Bergman's demands, and Bergman was about to trigger the security breach. The desperate science team tried to reach his laboratory through the crawlspace, but they were too late. At 4:17 AM, Bergman triggered the automated defenses, ensuring the demise of everyone associated with the project.
A silence fell on the facility after the purge was completed. It would continue for over two centuries, until the Sole Survivor set foot inside the building, now ruined and infested with feral ghouls, the remnants of the research team.
Layout[edit | edit source]
The labs are divided into two halves, connected by a side corridor. The entry area consists of the director's office accessed through the staircase, an archives area on the upper floor, and a collapsed briefing room on the left. The Director's office is locked with a Master-level lock, but becomes accessible once the location's quest is completed.
Labs are accessed through a corridor containing the locker rooms and showers and a clean room. Once the player enters the laboratories, they are stuck inside until they complete the Cambridge Polymer Labs quest; see the article for details.
The labs are centered around a single hall, arranged in a semi-circle. The labs C2, C4, and C5 are located on the lower level, while labs C1 and C3 are located upstairs. C3 is locked behind an Expert-level terminal, but there is a collapsed ceiling in the corner of C1 that leads into the vents above; at the end of the tunnel is a hole that allows one to drop into C3. The isotope containment area is accessed using a Novice-level terminal located inside the isotope control room (to the left, facing the room).
Inhabitants[edit | edit source]
Notable loot[edit | edit source]
- The Piezonucleic power armor chest is can be taken from the conveyor belt after mixing unidentified sample 611 (gold) with unidentified sample 3111 (lithium hydride) and U-238.
- An issue of Massachusetts Surgical Journal is on the Director's desk.
- A fusion core is in the display case in the corner of the Director's office.
- A hazmat suit is in the storage room south of laboratory C4, on a shelf in the corner.
- Unidentified sample 611 (gold) is in laboratory C3, beside Bergman's terminal.
- Unidentified sample 413 (gallium) is on a shelf lining the windows of laboratory C4, among flasks and beaker stands.
- Unidentified sample 65 (tungsten) is on a cabinet in laboratory C5, which is accessible through a hole in the wall of C4.
- Unidentified sample 3111 (lithium hydride) is on a shelf in the storage room south of laboratory C4.
- Unidentified sample 11317 (hydrocloric acid) is on the console beside the polymer coating applicator terminal in laboratory C2.
- Unidentified sample 49 (cobalt) is in laboratory C1, on the desk in the back corner, next to the skeleton of Tom Franklin. The suicide note is on the same table.
- U-238 is in a test tube stand on a shelf in the northwest corner of the the isotope containment room, which is on the north side of the lab. The door to the containment room is locked, and must be opened using the terminal in C5.
- The radioactive containment password is in laboratory C3, on the counter left of the Bergman's terminal.
Appearances[edit | edit source]
Cambridge Polymer Labs appears only in Fallout 4.
- Molly: "The genesis of Cambridge Polymer Labs lies in the research of a group brilliant graduate students. Jon Elwood, Ericka Woolum, and Wilfred Bergman met during their time together at CIT. This slide shows them at their graduation. Their research into nucleostrictive and piezoelectric polymers caught the attention of Col. George Kemp in the fall of 2073. In the spring of 2074 the company was founded, with a generous grant provided by the Defense Experimental Research Project Initiative. The research produced here has resulted in several of components used in the Liberty Prime project that led to the successful defense of Anchorage. The company enjoys a strong relationship with the military and welcomes your addition to the research team that helps build a better America."
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Ericka's Terminal, Project Thesis
Initial studies have lead us to hypothosize that by taking a known piezoelectric material, Lead Zirconium Titanite (PZT), and properly applying a polymer of Gold and Lithium Hydride that a localized conversion of ionizing radiation to electrical energy might be achieved. This method of compact energy harvest may prove suitable for application to preexisting Power Armor currently in use by US armed forces.
-Dr. Ericka Elwood-Woolum D.Eng"
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Ericka's Terminal, Thermal dissipation
Initial tests have proved that the methodology is sound. Radioactive energy harvest is 15x higher than current automotive fusion engines. Unfortunately, there are still problems that we need to overcome. The ionic excitation in the gold that produces the harvestable electrons also create a build up of thermal waste. The heat is not substantial, from a macro perspective, but due to the low shear modulus, the gold suspension in the nano weave starts to break down quickly under extended use. We are going to attempt to change the dosing pattern on the gold to produce thinner strands through the material. The increased surface area should help dissipate the thermal energy, much like a heat sink."
- Thermal dissipation; Ericka's Terminal, Tensile strain
The newer dosing patterns have been successful at dissipating the heat generated by the reaction. We've taken a slight hit to the harvest efficiency, but extended the static material lifetime from a matter of days to a several years. While this is, from our perspective, already a successful experiment, the project parameters require a flexible lining that can be applied to power armor. It seems we understimated the tensile strain the armor produces and the thinner gold weave in the material ends up shredding, so to speak, under the heavy use. Col. Kemp was less than pleased, and threatened to pull the funding if we can't produce the promised results. So we need to go back to the thicker weave and find a different way to solve the thermal dissipation issue."
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Bergman's Terminal, Call from Kemp
Just got a very strange call from Col. Kemp. He asked what the status on the project was and when I explained that we were still behind schedule he didn't seem angry like he normally would. All he said was that it was very important that I keep the team working in the lab today and that I contact him as soon as the project was complete. It almost feels like he was trying to tell me something but I can't imagine what."
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Director's Terminal, It was a warning
He was trying to warn me. They hit us with a nuke. The lab was built to withstand nearly anything but a direct hit, but the EMP has blown out all external communications. I told the team that there are training maneuvers going on around town, but I don't know how long they are going to buy that. I need to find a way to get ahold of Col. Kemp to see if they can extract us to a safe location. Even if I can find a working phone somewhere, I'll never be able to get through. Maybe if I can get ahold of a ham radio I can try to reach them on an open channel."
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Bergman's Terminal, [J.Elwood] - Mandatory Overtime
>> Mandatory Overtime
Good morning everyone, I know you've all been here over night and everyone is tired but I need everyone to push through just a little longer. Dr. Elwood-Woolum has said that you are very close to cracking the problem with the Nucleostrictive lining project and I have a good feeling that today will be the day. Along with our normal snacks, I've sent a runner to Slocum's Joe for coffee and donuts. We'll be ordering Spuckies later this afternoon. I also just got off the phone with Col. Kemp and he said there may be some training exercises happening around town today, so if you hear what sound like tanks or gunfire, don't panic, it's just a drill."
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Ericka's Terminal, [J.Elwood] - Confidential
Ericka, I've sent an explanation to the team, but I need you to know what is actually going on. Please do not share this with anyone else, it may start a panic. This morning I got a call from Col. Kemp and he told me to keep our team in the lab, but before I could ask he hung up. The sound you heard outside was an atomic bomb going off. It seems to have hit south west of the city. The phone lines have been jammed, but I found a way to reach Kemp's liason and he informed me that they could only afford a detail to escort us to safety if we have vital military assets or intelligence. That is why we need to get the project finished.
I love you and I know you can do this.
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Director's Terminal, [E.ElwoodWoolum] - RE: Confidential
>> RE: Confidential
Jon, I don't know if we can do it. We've been working on the problem for weeks and not been able to find a way to prevent the nanoweave from falling apart under the strain of use. Even if we find a solution, it may take us days to program the new dosing pattern, and I don't know if I can cover this up that long. Even if I can, I don't know if it's is right for us to make that decision. Some of them have families out there, and shouldn't they have the choice to try to protect them?
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Director's Terminal, We have to finish the project
There are looters everywhere and people fighting in the streets. I managed to find a radio and some supplies, but I caught a stray bullet in the shoulder on my way back. Between that and the radiation sickness the past 36 hours have been hell. I finally managed to find the right frequency and get through to a military liason, but he said that Kemp had left orders that they could only spare an extraction team for assets vital to war effort. If we try to have them get us out without the project completed, he'll have us executed for treason. I have to keep them in the lab, we have to finish the project."
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Goodman's terminal: [J.Elwood] - Lockdown status
>> Lockdown status
Everyone needs to just calm down. Yes as you've heard by now, I have locked you out of the clean room. As my previous email stated, this push to finish the project IS mandatory. As soon as I have the data for a successful prototype I will unlock the doors and everyone will be free to go home. To address concerns about the noise outside, those are the military exercises I mentioned. I'm aware they're very loud and that some of you have been disturbed by it. I assure you everything is fine. Though we are not openly at war with China, things are still tense, and the military feels that ground defense exercises are necessary to our safety. Finishing our project here isn't just vital to the company, but also to helping protect our country.
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Ericka's Terminal: Trapped
We've been trapped in the lab for days now and tensions are running high. The team is fractured and falling apart. They don't know what is going on outside and have started making attempts to escape the lab. While I was sleeping they managed to cut a hole through the thinner interior wall of the clean room, but have been unable to break through the hardened outer wall. Wil started talking with some of the others about going at the problem from "a more oblique angle", which got me to thinking about the thermal dissipation problem when it dawned on me.
If we change dosing pattern so it isn't producing nanoholes perpendicular to the surface but instead at an angle, we might be able to reflect the most direct radioactive particles and trapping only those coming in at an oblique angle to the material. We would achieve a lower energy harvest, but the heat dissipation issues might be solved. Tom, Mary, and I are going to gather the samples needed to try it."
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Director's Terminal, Can't hold out much longer
There's been a problem with the reactor. The shockwave from the inital blast must have cracked the containment lining, because there is a growing leak showing up on the detectors in the lab. To make matters worse, Wil has been trying to hack into the administrative controls. I've been working to keep him out, but I think the wound in my shoulder may be going septic, and I don't know how much longer I can hold out."
- Can't hold out much longer; Director's Terminal, [W.Bergman] - I'm getting us out
>> I'm getting us out
I'm getting us out of here, you son of a bitch. Do you hear me Jon? You may have had the connections to get this company started, but I was always the better hacker. If you don't release us, you'll leave me with no choice but to trigger the automated defenses. We'll have to fight our way out and Ericka may be hurt in the process, is that what you want?"
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Bergman's Terminal, [J.Elwood] - Hacking Admin
>> Hacking Admin
Wilfred, do you think I wouldn't catch on to what you're doing? I got a network alert the moment you took control of the Isotope Containment. You may have been the best hacker on campus back at CIT, but that was years ago and while you were busy up in Alaska, pretending to be a soldier, we had the best programmers working on our security system. I told you weeks ago that I'll let you all out of the lab once the research is completed. Locking Ericka and the rest of the team out of the Isotope Containment just to spite me doesn't accomplish anything.
- Director Elwood"
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Ericka's Terminal, We're so close
We've been unable to gather the samples needed to try the new dosing pattern. Wil has locked himself in one of the labs, and has been attempting to hack into the administrative systems. When we tried to get the U-238 we need from the isotope containment, he locked it down leaving Mary stranded inside. He said he is going to set the facility defense systems so that it looks like the lab has been breached. This will unlock the clean room, but will also activate the automated defenses which will see us as attackers.
He means to fight his way out, but that's suicide. He's the only one in the lab with military training, and we don't even have real weapons. I've tried to tell him that we can complete the project, that we have the answer now, but he refuses to see reason and doesn't believe Jon will actually let us out. We've managed to pull down part of the ceiling in C1, which will get us into the utility crawl space. It can't get us out, but it should be able to get us above the lab Wil has barricaded himself in. I don't like it, but we have to get the drop on him."
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Director's Terminal, [E.ElwoodWoolum] - He's locked us out
>> He's locked us out
I've got the thermal problem solved, but we need the samples to produce a prototype. Wil's barricaded himself in a lab and has locked us out of the isotope containment. I've told the others what is going on, and they hate us for it, but they see this is the only way out right now. We need you to get back control so we can finish the project and get out of here.
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Bergman's Terminal, [E.ElwoodWoolum] - Isotope Containment
>> Isotope Containment
Wil, this is insane! Even if you manage to hack into the administrative controls, do you know what will happen if you trigger a security breach? Yes, the doors through the clean room will open, but the first thing through them will be a wave of robots to kill every living "Intruder" in the lab! Even if we manage to get past them, there are also the turrets. There's one right here in the lab, remember? If you do this you are more likely to get us all killed than set us free!
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Director's Terminal, Ericka, please read
Ericka, I'm sorry.
I know I haven't been the best husband, but I've done everything I can to try to protect you since the attack. If you are reading this, I hope it is because you finished the project and can use the radio to signal for extraction.
I can't hold out any longer."
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Director's Terminal, [E.ElwoodWoolum] - Are you there?
>> Are you there?
Jon, are you there? I can't see you moving in your office and we can't wait any longer. He's going to trigger the automated defenses if we don't do something. We've mangaged to get into the crawl space and are going to try to take him by surprise. Despite everything that's happened, I want you to know that I still love you.
- Cambridge Polymer Labs terminals; Ericka's Terminal, [W.Bergman] - I'm getting us out
>> I'm getting us out
I'm not letting Jon play tyrant any longer. The isotope containment is leaking and he still won't let us out. I've gotten through his updated security subroutines and it's only a matter of time till I get control of the Facility Defenses. He's so busy trying to keep me out of the Clean Room Controls, he probably hasn't realized that by triggering a Facility Breached sweep, all the doors will open to allow the robots access.
We're fighting our way out and then I'll deal with your husband.
- Fallout 4 Vault Dweller's Survival Guide Collector's Edition p.407: "[7.08] CAMBRIDGE POLYMER LABS
This laboratory was a research facility looking into the development of Smart Materials to convert radiation. It appears to have suffered a catastrophic failure after the bombs fell. Perhaps you heard the radio advertising new and exciting opportunities in this field of research?"
(Fallout 4 Vault Dweller's Survival Guide Map)