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Chemists ID Catalytic 'Key' for Converting CO2 to Methanol

Results from experiments and computational modeling studies that definitively identify the "active site" of a catalyst commonly used for making methanol from CO2 will guide the design of improved catalysts for transforming this pollutant to useful chemicals.

Cryo-Electron Microscopy Achieves Unprecedented Resolution Using New Computational Methods

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM)--which enables the visualization of viruses, proteins, and other biological structures at the molecular level--is a critical tool used to advance biochemical knowledge. Now Berkeley Lab researchers have extended cryo-EM's impact further by developing a new computational algorithm instrumental in constructing a 3-D atomic-scale model of bacteriophage P22 for the first time.

New Study Maps Space Dust in 3-D

A new Berkeley Lab-led study provides detailed 3-D views of space dust in the Milky Way, which could help us understand the properties of this dust and how it affects views of distant objects.

Single-Angle Ptychography Allows 3D Imaging of Stressed Materials

Scientists have used a new X-ray diffraction technique called Bragg single-angle ptychography to get a clear picture of how planes of atoms shift and squeeze under stress.

New Feedback System Could Allow Greater Control Over Fusion Plasma

A physicist has created a new system that will let scientists control the energy and rotation of plasma in real time in a doughnut-shaped machine known as a tokamak.

Towards Super-Efficient, Ultra-Thin Silicon Solar Cells

Researchers from Ames Laboratory used supercomputers at NERSC to evaluate a novel approach for creating more energy-efficient ultra-thin crystalline silicon solar cells by optimizing nanophotonic light trapping.

Study IDs Link Between Sugar Signaling and Regulation of Oil Production in Plants

UPTON, NY--Even plants have to live on an energy budget. While they're known for converting solar energy into chemical energy in the form of sugars, plants have sophisticated biochemical mechanisms for regulating how they spend that energy. Making oils costs a lot. By exploring the details of this delicate energy balance, a group of scientists from the U.

High-Energy Electrons Probe Ultrafast Atomic Motion

A new technique synchronized high-energy electrons with an ultrafast laser pulse to probe how vibrational states of atoms change in time.

Rare Earth Recycling

A new energy-efficient separation of rare earth elements could provide a new domestic source of critical materials.

Two-Dimensional MXene Materials Get Their Close-Up

Researchers have long sought electrically conductive materials for economical energy-storage devices. Two-dimensional (2D) ceramics called MXenes are contenders.


Three SLAC Employees Awarded Lab's Highest Honor

At a March 7 ceremony, three employees of the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory were awarded the lab's highest honor ­- the SLAC Director's Award.

Dan Sinars Represents Sandia in First Energy Leadership Class

Dan Sinars, a senior manager in Sandia National Laboratories' pulsed power center, which built and operates the Z facility, is the sole representative from a nuclear weapons lab in a new Department of Energy leadership program that recently visited Sandia.

ORNL, HTS International Corporation to Collaborate on Manufacturing Research

HTS International Corporation and the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed an agreement to explore potential collaborations in advanced manufacturing research.

Jefferson Lab Director Honored with Energy Secretary Award

Hugh Montgomery, director of the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), was awarded The Secretary's Distinguished Service Award by the Secretary of Energy earlier this year.

New Projects to Make Geothermal Energy More Economically Attractive

Geothermal energy, a clean, renewable source of energy produced by the heat of the earth, provides about 6 percent of California's total power. That number could be much higher if associated costs were lower. Now scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have launched two California Energy Commission-funded projects aimed at making geothermal energy more cost-effective to deploy and operate.

Southern Research Project Advances Novel CO2 Utilization Strategy

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy has awarded Southern Research nearly $800,000 for a project that targets a more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly method of producing some of the most important chemicals used in manufacturing.

Harker School Wins 2017 SLAC Regional Science Bowl Competition

After losing its first match of the day to the defending champions, The Harker School's team won 10 consecutive rounds to claim victory in the annual SLAC Regional DOE Science Bowl on Saturday, Feb. 11.

Francis Alexander Named Deputy Director of Brookhaven Lab's Computational Science Initiative

Alexander brings extensive management and leadership experience in computational science research to the position.

Kalinin, Paranthaman Elected Materials Research Society Fellows

Two researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sergei Kalinin and Mariappan Parans Paranthaman, have been elected fellows of the Materials Research Society.

Two PNNL Researchers Elected to Membership in the National Academy of Engineering

Two scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will become members of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.


High-Energy Electrons Probe Ultrafast Atomic Motion

A new technique synchronized high-energy electrons with an ultrafast laser pulse to probe how vibrational states of atoms change in time.

Rare Earth Recycling

A new energy-efficient separation of rare earth elements could provide a new domestic source of critical materials.

Modeling the "Flicker" of Gluons in Subatomic Smashups

A new model identifies a high degree of fluctuations in the glue-like particles that bind quarks within protons as essential to explaining proton structure.

Rare Nickel Atom Has "Doubly Magic" Structure

Supercomputing calculations confirm that rare nickel-78 has unusual structure, offering insights into supernovas.

Microbial Activity in the Subsurface Contributes to Greenhouse Gas Fluxes

Natural carbon dioxide production from deep subsurface soils contributes significantly to emissions, even in a semiarid floodplain.

Stretching a Metal Into an Insulator

Straining a thin film controllably allows tuning of the materials' magnetic, electronic, and catalytic properties, essential for new energy and electronic devices.

How Moisture Affects the Way Soil Microbes Breathe

Study models soil-pore features that hold or release carbon dioxide.

ARM Data Is for the Birds

Scientists use LIDAR and radar data to study bird migration patterns, thanks to the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility.

The Future of Coastal Flooding

Better storm surge prediction capabilities could help reduce the impacts of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes.

Estimating Global Energy Use for Water-Related Processes

Scientists find that water-related energy consumption is increasing across the globe, with pronounced differences across regions and sectors.


Wednesday February 15, 2017, 04:05 PM

Middle Schoolers Test Their Knowledge at Science Bowl Competition

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Friday January 27, 2017, 04:00 PM

Haslam Visits ORNL to Highlight State's Role in Discovering Tennessine

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Tuesday November 08, 2016, 12:05 PM

Internship Program Helps Foster Development of Future Nuclear Scientists

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More Than 12,000 Explore Jefferson Lab During April 30 Open House

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Monday April 25, 2016, 05:05 PM

Giving Back to National Science Bowl

Ames Laboratory

Friday March 25, 2016, 12:05 PM

NMSU Undergrad Tackles 3D Particle Scattering Animations After Receiving JSA Research Assistantship

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Shannon Greco: A Self-Described "STEM Education Zealot"

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Rare Earths for Life: An 85th Birthday Visit with Mr. Rare Earth

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Meet Robert Palomino: 'Give Everything a Shot!'

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Tuesday April 22, 2014, 11:30 AM

University of Utah Makes Solar Accessible

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Student Innovator at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Seeks Brighter, Smarter, and More Efficient LEDs

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Texas Tech Energy Commerce Students, Community Light up Tent City

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Don't Get 'Frosted' Over Heating Your Home This Winter

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Like Superman, American University Will Get Its Energy from the Sun

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Rensselaer Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center Announces First Deployment of New Technology on Campus

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Visualizing How Radiation Bombardment Boosts Superconductivity

Article ID: 634449

Released: 2015-05-18 11:05:00

Source Newsroom: Brookhaven National Laboratory

  • Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

    High-energy gold ions impact the crystal surface from above at the sites indicated schematically by dashed circles. Measurement of the strength of superconductivity in this same field of view, as shown on the lower panel, reveals how the impact sites are the regions where the superconductivity is also annihilated. In additional studies, the scientists discovered that it is in these same regions that the strongest pinning of quantized vortices occurs, followed at higher magnetic fields by pinning at the single atom crystal damage sites. Pinning the vortices allows high current superconductivity to flow unimpeded through the rest of the sample.

EMBARGOED for release on Friday, May 22, 2015, 2 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time

Visualizing How Radiation Bombardment Boosts Superconductivity

Atomic-level flyovers show how impact sites of high-energy ions pin potentially disruptive vortices to keep high-current superconductivity flowing

UPTON, NY—Sometimes a little damage can do a lot of good—at least in the case of iron-based high-temperature superconductors. Bombarding these materials with high-energy heavy ions introduces nanometer-scale damage tracks that can enhance the materials’ ability to carry high current with no energy loss—and without lowering the critical operating temperature. Such high-current, high-temperature superconductors could one day find application in zero-energy-loss power transmission lines or energy-generating turbines. But before that can happen, scientists would like to understand quantitatively and in detail how the damage helps—and use that knowledge to strategically engineer superconductors with the best characteristics for a given application.

In a paper published May 22, 2015, in Science Advances, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven and Argonne national laboratories describe atomic-level “flyovers” of the pockmarked landscape of an iron-based superconductor after bombardment with heavy ion radiation. The surface-scanning images show how certain types of damage can pin potentially disruptive magnetic vortices in place, preventing them from interfering with superconductivity.

The work is a product of the Center for Emergent Superconductivity, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center established at Brookhaven in partnership with Argonne and the University of Illinois to foster collaboration and maximize the impact of this research.

“This study opens a new way forward for designing and understanding high-current, high-performing superconductors,” said study co-author J.C. Séamus Davis, a physicist at Brookhaven Lab and Cornell University. “We demonstrated a procedure whereby you can irradiate a sample with heavy ions, visualize what the ions do to the crystal at the atomic scale, and simultaneously see what happens to the superconductivity in precisely the same field of view.”

Argonne physicist Wai-Kwong Kwok led the effort on heavy ion bombardment. “Heavy ions such as gold can create nearly continuous or discontinuous column shaped damage tracks penetrating through the crystal. As the very high-energy ions traverse the material, they melt the crystal at the atomic scale and destroy the crystal structure over a diameter of a few nanometers. It’s important to understand the details of how these atomic-scale defects affect local electronic properties and the macroscopic current carrying capacity of the bulk material,” he said.

The scientists were particularly interested in how the nanoscale defects interact with microscopic magnetic vortices that form when iron-based superconductors are placed in a strong magnetic field—the type that would be present in turbines and other energy applications.

“These quantum vortices are like eddies in a river moving across or counter to the direction of flow,” Davis said. “They are the enemy of superconductivity. You can’t prevent them from forming, but scientists as long ago as the 1970s found you can sometimes prevent them from moving around by shooting some high-energy ions into the material to form atomic-scale damage tracks that trap the vortices.”

But random bombardment is, literally, hit-or-miss. Scientists developing materials for energy applications would like to take a more strategic approach by developing a quantitative and predictive theory for how to engineer these materials.

“If a company comes to us and says we are developing these superconductors and we want them to have this current at a certain temperature in this type of magnetic field, we’d like to be able to tell them exactly what type of defects to introduce,” Kwok said. To do that they needed a way to map out the defects, map out the superconductivity, and map out the locations of the vortices—and a quantitative theoretical model that describes how those variables relate to one another and the material’s bulk superconductivity.

A precision spectroscopic-imaging scanning tunneling microscope (SI-STM) developed by Davis is the first tool that can map out those three characteristics on the same material. Under Davis’ guidance, Brookhaven Lab postdoctoral fellow Freek Massee (now at University Paris-Sud in France) and Cornell University graduate student Peter Sprau—the two lead co-authors on the paper—used the instrument’s fine electron-tunneling tip to scan over the material’s surface, imaging the atomic structure of the landscape below and the properties of its electrons, atom by atom. The precision allows the scientists to scan the same atoms repeatedly under different external conditions—such as changes in temperature and ramped up magnetic fields—to study the formation, movement, and effects of quantum vortices.

Their atomic-scale imaging studies reveal that vortex pinning—the ability to keep those disruptive eddies in place—depends on the shape of the high-energy ion damage tracks (specifically whether they are point-like or elongated), and also on a form of “collateral damage” discovered by the researchers far from the primary route traversed by each ion. Collaborating theorists at the University of Illinois are now using the experimental results to develop a descriptive framework the scientists can use to predict and test new approaches for materials design.

“These studies will really help us solve at which temperature which type of defects will be best for carrying a particular current,” Kwok said. “The ability to achieve critical current by design is one of the ultimate goals of the Center for Emergent Superconductivity.”

This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science through the Center for Emergent Superconductivity at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Brookhaven National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory are supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE's Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.