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Printed, Flexible and Rechargeable Battery Can Power Wearable Sensors

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego have developed the first printed battery that is flexible, stretchable and rechargeable. The zinc batteries could be used to power everything from wearable sensors to solar cells and other kinds of electronics. The work appears in the April 19, 2017 issue of Advanced Energy Materials.

Neutrons Provide the First Nanoscale Look at a Living Cell Membrane

A research team from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has performed the first-ever direct nanoscale examination of a living cell membrane. In doing so, it also resolved a long-standing debate by identifying tiny groupings of lipid molecules that are likely key to the cell's functioning.

How X-Rays Helped to Solve Mystery of Floating Rocks

Experiments at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source have helped scientists to solve a mystery of why some rocks can float for years in the ocean, traveling thousands of miles before sinking.

Special X-Ray Technique Allows Scientists to See 3-D Deformations

In a new study published last Friday in Science, researchers at Argonne used an X-ray scattering technique called Bragg coherent diffraction imaging to reconstruct in 3-D the size and shape of grain defects. These defects create imperfections in the lattice of atoms inside a grain that can give rise to interesting material properties and effects.

Neptune: Neutralizer-Free Plasma Propulsion

The most established plasma propulsion concepts are gridded-ion thrusters that accelerate and emit a larger number of positively charged particles than those that are negatively charged. To enable the spacecraft to remain charge-neutral, a "neutralizer" is used to inject electrons to exactly balance the positive ion charge in the exhaust beam. However, the neutralizer requires additional power from the spacecraft and increases the size and weight of the propulsion system. Researchers are investigating how the radio-frequency self-bias effect can be used to remove the neutralizer altogether, and they report their work in this week's Physics of Plasmas.

Report Sheds New Insights on the Spin Dynamics of a Material Candidate for Low-Power Devices

In a report published in Nano LettersArgonne researchers reveal new insights into the properties of a magnetic insulator that is a candidate for low-power device applications; their insights form early stepping-stones towards developing high-speed, low-power electronics that use electron spin rather than charge to carry information.

Researchers Find Computer Code That Volkswagen Used to Cheat Emissions Tests

An international team of researchers has uncovered the mechanism that allowed Volkswagen to circumvent U.S. and European emission tests over at least six years before the Environmental Protection Agency put the company on notice in 2015 for violating the Clean Air Act. During a year-long investigation, researchers found code that allowed a car's onboard computer to determine that the vehicle was undergoing an emissions test.

Physicists Discover That Lithium Oxide on Tokamak Walls Can Improve Plasma Performance

A team of physicists has found that a coating of lithium oxide on the inside of fusion machines known as tokamaks can absorb as much deuterium as pure lithium can.

Scientists Perform First Basic Physics Simulation of Spontaneous Transition of the Edge of Fusion Plasma to Crucial High-Confinement Mode

PPPL physicists have simulated the spontaneous transition of turbulence at the edge of a fusion plasma to the high-confinement mode that sustains fusion reactions. The research was achieved with the extreme-scale plasma turbulence code XGC developed at PPPL in collaboration with a nationwide team.

Green Fleet Technology

New research at Penn State addresses the impact delivery trucks have on the environment by providing green solutions that keep costs down without sacrificing efficiency.


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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduates Urged to Embrace Change at 211th Commencement

Describing the dizzying pace of technological innovation, former United States Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz urged graduates to "anticipate career change, welcome it, and manage it to your and your society's benefit" at the 211th Commencement at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Saturday.

ORNL Welcomes Innovation Crossroads Entrepreneurial Research Fellows

Oak Ridge National Laboratory today welcomed the first cohort of innovators to join Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast region's first entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

Department of Energy Secretary Recognizes Argonne Scientists' Work to Fight Ebola, Cancer

Two groups of researchers at Argonne earned special awards from the office of the U.S. Secretary of Energy for addressing the global health challenges of Ebola and cancer.

Jefferson Science Associates, LLC Recognized for Leadership in Small Business Utilization

Jefferson Lab/Jefferson Science Associates has a long-standing commitment to doing business with and mentoring small businesses. That commitment and support received national recognition at the 16th Annual Dept. of Energy Small Business Forum and Expo held May 16-18, 2017 in Kansas City, Mo.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President's Commencement Colloquy to Address "Criticality, Incisiveness, Creativity"

To kick off the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Commencement weekend, the annual President's Commencement Colloquy will take place on Friday, May 19, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The discussion, titled "Criticality, Incisiveness, Creativity," will include the Honorable Ernest J. Moniz, former Secretary of Energy, and the Honorable Roger W. Ferguson Jr., President and CEO of TIAA, and will be moderated by Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson.

ORNL, University of Tennessee Launch New Doctoral Program in Data Science

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has approved a new doctoral program in data science and engineering as part of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.

SurfTec Receives $1.2 Million Energy Award to Develop Novel Coating

The Department of Energy has awarded $1.2 million to SurfTec LLC, a company affiliated with the U of A Technology Development Foundation, to continue developing a nanoparticle-based coating to replace lead-based journal bearings in the next generation of electric machines.

Ames Laboratory Scientist Inducted Into National Inventors Hall of Fame

Iver Anderson, senior metallurgist at Ames Laboratory, has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

DOE HPC4Mfg Program Funds 13 New Projects to Improve U.S. Energy Technologies Through High Performance Computing

A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to spur the use of high performance supercomputers to advance U.S. manufacturing is funding 13 new industry projects for a total of $3.9 million.

Penn State Wind Energy Club Breezes to Victory in Collegiate Wind Competition

The Penn State Wind Energy Club breezed through the field at the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition 2017 Technical Challenge, held April 20-22 at the National Wind Technology Center near Boulder, Colorado--earning its third overall victory in four years at the Collegiate Wind Competition.


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Casting a Wide Net

Designed molecules will provide positive impacts in energy production by selectively removing unwanted ions from complex solutions.

New Software Tools Streamline DNA Sequence Design-and-Build Process

Enhanced software tools will accelerate gene discovery and characterization, vital for new forms of fuel production.

The Ultrafast Interplay Between Molecules and Materials

Computer calculations by the Center for Solar Fuels, an Energy Frontier Research Center, shed light on nebulous interactions in semiconductors relevant to dye-sensitized solar cells.

Supercapacitors: WOODn't That Be Nice

Researchers at Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage, an Energy Frontier Research Center, take advantage of nature-made materials and structure for energy storage research.

Groundwater Flow Is Key for Modeling the Global Water Cycle

Water table depth and groundwater flow are vital to understanding the amount of water that plants transmit to the atmosphere.

Finding the Correct Path

A new computational technique greatly simplifies the complex reaction networks common to catalysis and combustion fields.

Opening Efficient Routes to Everyday Plastics

A new material from the Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center, an Energy Frontier Research Center, facilitates the production of key industrial supplies.

Fight to the Top: Silver and Gold Compete for the Surface of a Bimetallic Solid

It's the classic plot of a buddy movie. Two struggling bodies team up to drive the plot and do good together. That same idea, when it comes to metals, could help scientists solve a big problem: the amount of energy consumed by making chemicals.

Saving Energy Through Light Control

New materials, designed by researchers at the Center for Excitonics, an Energy Frontier Research Center, can reduce energy consumption with the flip of a switch.

Teaching Perovskites to Swim

Scientists at the ANSER Energy Frontier Research Center designed a two-component layer protects a sunlight-harvesting device from water and heat.


New Leaf Study Sheds Light on 'Shady' Past

Article ID: 666677

Released: 2016-12-18 11:00:12

Source Newsroom: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

  • Credit: www.publicdomainpictures.net

    A rainforest in Puerto Rico viewed from the forest floor.

A new study led by a research scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) highlights a literally shady practice in plant science that has in some cases underestimated plants’ rate of growth and photosynthesis, among other traits.

The study, published Dec. 19 in Nature Plants, suggests that this problem may stem from a common tendency in fieldwork to report leaf measurements taken in partially shaded conditions as existing in more fully sunlit conditions.

As a result, global plant databases and models may require updating to better account for plant responses to full-sun conditions, said Trevor F. Keenan, a research scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area who led the study.

“Often when researchers are in the field, it’s hard to get to leaves at the top of trees,” Keenan said, particularly in densely vegetated areas such as tropical forests where the canopies can reach over 100 feet in height.

“In other cases, understory plants grow mostly in the shade, so it is impossible to sample in full sun. Traits vary quite a lot in the canopy, so if you don’t sample from the top all of your samples will be biased,” he said.

Study finds large light-dependent variations in leaf traits

In plant fieldwork, full-sun conditions are defined as those in which a plant receives the maximum amount of sunlight, typically at the top of a canopy, but most leaves do not grow in full-sun conditions.

Leaves at the bottom of the canopy in a tropical rainforest may receive 100 times less sunlight than those at the top of the canopy, Keenan said. And many leaf characteristics -- which are integral to vital leaf functions such as carbon uptake and photosynthesis -- can vary 20-fold between the top and bottom leaves on the same plant.

“For example, the highest concentration in nitrogen is at the top, where you have the most sunlight. Plants allocate a lot of nutrients there so they can ‘profit’ from it the most,” Keenan said.

Cutting to the root of a data problem

Keenan and Ülo Niinemets, a researcher from the Estonian University of Life Sciences and Estonian Academy of Sciences, evaluated leaf data from several databases -- covering hundreds of plant species and spanning most regions of the world -- in the latest study. They used data from those studies that reported extra information about the specific location of the sampled leaves in the canopy as a benchmark for other studies’ data. The research was conducted as Keenan and colleagues were assembling a new global database for plant research.

The misreported sun vs. shade conditions are likely most pronounced in tropical regions, Keenan said. Because these regions of tropical vegetation are also considered to be the planet’s largest “carbon sinks” in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, “These are some of the most important areas to focus on,” he said.

Better accounting of light conditions that sampled leaves are growing in could help to improve models that account for plants’ total rate of photosynthesis and better quantify their role as a carbon sink, for example, and for plants’ adaptability to changing conditions. It can also identify important correlations between which plant traits are most pronounced under different lighting conditions.

More accurate sampling methods can ultimately help improve scientists’ understanding of whole ecosystem structure and function, and to understand how plants respond to factors such as climate change, the study states.

In addition to improved reporting of sunlit conditions, there is also a need for better accounting of plant ages in field studies, as age may affect leaf chemistry and function, according to the study.

The study concludes that field studies must take more care in accurately reporting sunlit vs. shaded conditions and age-driven trait responses in leaves. “These results will hopefully help to improve field measurement strategies,” Keenan said.

Combining field data with simulations and theory

More standardized fieldwork, in parallel with new computational tools and theoretical work, will contribute to better global plant models, Keenan said. Researchers will likely tap the supercomputing capabilities of Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) in upcoming modeling work.

“We really don’t know how plants are going to acclimate to a changing climate,” Keenan said, noting that Lab researchers are developing a theory for why plants acclimate and change their allocations of nutrients within the canopy. “We can use this to better understand why trait values vary.”

New techniques are emerging to improve data collection in the field, Keenan also said. The study notes that some field research has used a shotgun approach to sample leaves at the top of the canopy -- firing a shotgun to clip off leaves that are otherwise out of reach -- though this technique alters the water flow that exists in attached leaves, so it can affect photosynthesis measurements.

LIDAR, a laser-based mapping technology, has found more use in plant field work, Keenan noted, by providing 3-D images of forest structure, for example, and physics-based computer simulations are improving in their ability to model how leaves transfer energy from sunlight.

“There is definitely a path forward in technological and scientific advances, along with new measurement approaches,” he said. “There is a lot of work to be done.”

NERSC is a DOE Office of Science User Facility. This work was supported by Berkeley Lab’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development fund and by DOE’s Office of Science.

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

DOE’s 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.