Doe Science news source
The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2016-12-21 11:00:28
  • Article ID: 666843

Filling in the Nuclear Data Gaps

Berkeley Lab researcher tackling common questions that cut across the field of nuclear science

  • Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab

    Lee Bernstein, who leads the Nuclear Data Group in Berkeley Lab’s Nuclear Science Division, stands beside the beam line in Cave 0 of the Lab’s 88-Inch Cyclotron.

  • Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab

    Thin-foil samples such as the one shown in this photo are used in nuclear physics experiments at Berkeley Lab’s 88-Inch Cyclotron. In these experiments, an intense particle beam is used to irradiate the foil, and the radiation properties are then precisely measured using a high-purity germanium detector.

  • Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab

    Lee Bernstein (center) works with UC Berkeley graduate students Andrew Voyles (left) and Alexander Springer (right) to prepare for an experiment in Cave 0 at Berkeley Lab’s 88-Inch Cyclotron.

  • Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab

    This device is used to measure the thickness of foil samples for nuclear physics experiments at the 88-Inch Cyclotron.

  • Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab

    Lee Bernstein (center), works on the setup for a nuclear physics experiment at Berkeley Lab’s 88-Inch Cyclotron with UC Berkeley graduate students Andrew Voyles (right) and Alexander Springer (left).

Nuclear science, a field focused on what’s at work in the center of atoms, brought us a powerful energy source and new medical treatments and imaging tools.

And the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories have for decades contributed basic nuclear science results and other data on nuclear reactions and nuclear structure to support these and other applications, such as the management of our nuclear weapons stockpile.

Now, to help fill some important knowledge gaps and settle disagreements between experiments and models, the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is ramping up its efforts to solve common problems for a broad group of stakeholders in the nuclear energy, security, and medical fields.

In June, Berkeley Lab managers brought aboard Lee Bernstein -- a nuclear physicist who has been involved in national efforts to guide the focus and effectiveness of the U.S. Nuclear Data Program -- to lead the renewed Nuclear Data Group.

With the availability of precise measurement tools, powerful computer simulations, and a coordinated plan for new experiments, scientists are better equipped than ever to answer some of the most pressing questions in nuclear science. This renewed effort, Bernstein says, could boost fusion energy and nuclear medicine R&D, aid nuclear materials detection and nuclear weapons counterproliferation efforts, and lead to improvements in nuclear power generation.

Bernstein, who during the early ’90s had conducted experiments at Berkeley Lab’s particle-accelerating 88-Inch Cyclotron as a postdoctoral researcher at Rutgers University, spent the previous 22 years as a staff scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore Lab).

He developed a nuclear science program at Livermore Lab’s National Ignition Facility (NIF), a powerful laser that is used to help ensure the reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. In 2013, he began teaching nuclear physics courses at UC Berkeley’s Department of Nuclear Engineering.

“The Nuclear Data Group is now going beyond the traditional assembly, assessment, and dissemination of nuclear data to include a vibrant experimental effort to address data priorities for the various nuclear agencies and those they serve,” says Barbara Jacak, who leads Berkeley Lab’s Nuclear Science Division.

“Surprisingly, this is the first time that such a coherent experimental effort is being made,” she adds. “Some of the wonderful advantages of Lee’s group include access to the Lab’s 88-Inch Cyclotron, an ideal accelerator facility to perform measurements; active local groups willing to collaborate; and many excellent students wanting to get involved thanks to the strong links with the UC Berkeley campus.”

Berkeley Lab’s new Nuclear Data Group effort benefits greatly from Berkeley Lab’s connection to UC Berkeley’s Nuclear Engineering Department, Bernstein says. His career path, he notes, has taken him full circle, as he is again conducting nuclear physics experiments at the 88-Inch Cyclotron. Only now the experiments are for a different purpose.

The models that have been developed to describe nuclear processes -- such as the intricate details of the fission reactions that release energy in nuclear reactors as atomic nuclei are split to form lighter elements -- can be improved upon thanks to advances in tools and techniques, and a new round of experiments at Berkeley Lab will help to provide more precise measurements.

“Our role in the U.S. Nuclear Data Program was to compile, evaluate, and archive data. We were judges and librarians,” Bernstein says. “We now do measurements, which is a new aspect: Where we see the deficiencies, we measure.” These new measurements are used to validate, in part, and improve upon past experiments, theory, and simulations.

Bernstein also leads the Data Evaluation for the Applied Nuclear Science (DEANS) project at UC Berkeley, which is part of the U.S. Nuclear Data Program. That and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are among the world’s custodians for unclassified nuclear data.

In April 2017, Berkeley Lab will host a meeting of the IAEA’s Nuclear Structure and Decay Data (NSDD) Network, a governing body that sets the standards for evaluating the structure of atomic nuclei. “Inviting us to hold the NSDD meeting in Berkeley is a recognition of the new role of the Lab and campus in the international nuclear data community,” says Bernstein.

Bernstein also serves as a member of the leadership team for the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium, a group of national labs and universities that has a mission to train the next generation of experts for nuclear security and related fields.

Generally, nuclear data is focused on “the properties of nuclei and the reactions that make them and that produce energy and medical isotopes,” Bernstein says. “All of this data, all of this information is completely open and unclassified,” he says. “But even though everybody shares and uses this nuclear data, there has really not been a concerted, multi-agency effort to try to address these needs” for improved data, he says. Until now.

A workshop held at Berkeley Lab in May 2015 and a related white paper outlined the highest-priority needs for nuclear data that were common to a collection of agencies, and that report is now driving some of the latest work in the nuclear data field, Bernstein says.

“Who owns fission physics? Everyone owns it,” he explains, from the nuclear power industry to the counterproliferation community, and from the scientists who must ensure the safety of the nation’s nuclear weapons to the medical community that uses radioactive isotopes for treatment, imaging, and diagnosis.

Berkeley Lab’s 88-Inch Cyclotron has provided a good platform for the new program in nuclear data measurements, Bernstein says, adding that he enjoys working with several UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students who journey up to the cyclotron to assist with the experiments.

“For these students, what a treat,” he says, noting that their classrooms on campus are just 800 meters from the cyclotron. “They have world-class capabilities here, and can go right back down and have classes there. The vast majority of my work is here (at the cyclotron) as well.”

Even before he joined Berkeley Lab, Bernstein had been conducting some research at the cyclotron to support his work developing new detectors for use at Livermore Lab’s NIF laser. He conducted that work and other cyclotron research at Berkeley Lab as part of a national labs and UC Berkeley research consortium known as BANG, the Bay Area Neutron Group.

“This place has always been welcoming to us,” Bernstein says of Berkeley Lab’s 88-Inch Cyclotron. “The staff are innovative, they’re clever, and a lot of this research sits on both sides: from practical applications to basic science.”

Bernstein says that Rick Firestone, a longtime staff scientist at Berkeley Lab and a mentor, had convinced him to think about joining Berkeley Lab full time.

“When Rick told me he was retiring, I said, ‘Wow, here’s a great opportunity to do something between these two worlds (basic science and applications) and have nuclear data at the core,’” Bernstein says.

Now, Bernstein says he enjoys mentoring students who may pursue careers in nuclear science and engineering.

“I get to see all of the best and brightest students,” he says. “A large amount of my time is spent teaching and mentoring students. I think this is a very special place to be -- it is so completely intertwined with campus.”

Nuclear science research at Berkeley Lab is support by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

###

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 http://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.

X
X
X
  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Kentucky Researchers First to Produce High Grade Rare Earths From Coal

University of Kentucky researchers have produced nearly pure rare earth concentrates from Kentucky coal using an environmentally-conscious and cost-effective process, a groundbreaking accomplishment in the energy industry.

Watching Atoms Move in Hybrid Perovskite Crystals Reveals Clues to Improving Solar Cells

The discovery of nanoscale changes deep inside hybrid perovskites could shed light on developing low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells. Using X-ray beams and lasers, a team of researchers led by the University of California San Diego discovered how the movement of ions in hybrid perovskites causes certain regions within the material to become better solar cells than other parts.

Quantum Dots Amplify Light with Electrical Pumping

In a breakthrough development, Los Alamos scientists have shown that they can successfully amplify light using electrically excited films of the chemically synthesized semiconductor nanocrystals known as quantum dots.

The Challenge of Estimating Alaska's Soil Carbon Stocks

A geospatial analysis determined the optimal distribution of sites needed to reliably estimate Alaska's vast soil carbon.

Strain-Free Epitaxy of Germanium Film on Mica

Germanium was the material of choice in the early history of electronic devices, and due to its high charge carrier mobility, it's making a comeback. It's generally grown on expensive single-crystal substrates, adding another challenge to making it sustainably viable for most applications. To address this aspect, researchers demonstrate an epitaxy method that incorporates van der Waals' forces to grow germanium on mica. They discuss their work in the Journal of Applied Physics.

Unplugging the Cellulose Biofuel Bottleneck

Molecular-level understanding of cellulose structure reveals why it resists degradation and could lead to cost-effective biofuels.

Detailed View of Immune Proteins Could Lead to New Pathogen-Defense Strategies

Biologists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley used cryo-EM to resolve the structure of a ring of proteins used by the immune system to summon support when under attack, providing new insight into potential strategies for protection from pathogens. The researchers captured the high-resolution image of a protein ring, called an inflammasome, as it was bound to flagellin, a protein from the whiplike tail used by bacteria to propel themselves forward.

Unlocking the Secrets of Ebola

Scientists have identified a set of biomarkers that indicate which patients infected with the Ebola virus are most at risk of dying from the disease. The results come from one of the most in-depth studies ever of blood samples from patients with Ebola.

Scientists Make First Observations of How a Meteor-Like Shock Turns Silica Into Glass

Studies at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made the first real-time observations of how silica - an abundant material in the Earth's crust - easily transforms into a dense glass when hit with a massive shock wave like one generated from a meteor impact.

How Fungal Enzymes Break Down Plant Cell Walls

Lignocellulose-degrading enzyme complexes could improve biofuel production.


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Five Brookhaven Lab Scientists Named 2017 American Physical Society Fellows

Anatoly Frenkel, Morgan May, Rachid Nouicer, Eric Stach, and Peter Steinberg were recognized for their outstanding contributions to astrophysics, materials physics, and nuclear physics.

Argonne Appoints Chief of Staff

Megan Clifford has been named Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, effective January 1, 2018.

Jefferson Lab Scientist Selected to Receive Francis Slack Award

Dr. Hari Areti, has been selected to receive the Francis G. Slack Award, established by the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society, to honor excellence in service to Physics in the Southeastern U.S.

ORNL Wins Nine R&D 100 Awards

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have received nine R&D 100 Awards in recognition of their significant advancements in science and technology.

Argonne Scientists Capture Several R&D 100 Awards

Innovative technologies developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory recently earned several R&D 100 Awards.

Eight Los Alamos innovations win R&D 100 Awards

Eight Los Alamos National Laboratory technologies won R&D 100 Awards last week at R&D Magazine's annual ceremony in Orlando, Florida.

Physicist David Gates Named Editor-in-Chief of Plasma, a New Online Journal

Article announces David Gates' appointment as editor-in-chief of Plasma magazine

Argonne to Install Comanche System to Explore ARM Technology for High-Performance Computing

Argonne National Laboratory is collaborating with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to provide system software expertise and a development ecosystem for a future high-performance computing (HPC) system based on 64-bit ARM processors.

CANDLE Shines in 2017 HPCwire Readers' and Editors' Choice Awards

Argonne National Laboratory has been recognized in the annual <em>HPCwire</em> Readers' and Editors' Choice Awards, presented at the 2017 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC17), in Denver, Colorado.

SLAC's Helen Quinn Honored with 2018 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics

Helen Quinn, a professor emerita at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, will receive the 2018 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics - one of eight prestigious Franklin Institute Awards that will be handed out in Philadelphia next April.


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

The Challenge of Estimating Alaska's Soil Carbon Stocks

A geospatial analysis determined the optimal distribution of sites needed to reliably estimate Alaska's vast soil carbon.

Unplugging the Cellulose Biofuel Bottleneck

Molecular-level understanding of cellulose structure reveals why it resists degradation and could lead to cost-effective biofuels.

How Fungal Enzymes Break Down Plant Cell Walls

Lignocellulose-degrading enzyme complexes could improve biofuel production.

Stretching to Perfection of 2-D Semiconductors

Scientists use heat and mismatched surfaces to stretch films that can potentially improve the efficient operation of devices.

Simple is Beautiful in Quantum Computing

Defect spins in diamond were controlled with a simpler, geometric method, leading to faster computing.

The Effect of Hurricanes on Puerto Rico's Dry Forests

More frequent storms turn forests from carbon source to sink.

A Chemical Thermometer for Tropical Forests

Monoterpene measures how certain forests respond to heat stress.

Where a Leaf Lands and Lies Influences Carbon Levels in Soil for Years to Come

Whether carbon comes from leaves or needles affects how fast it decomposes, but where it ends up determines how long it's available.

Twisting Molecule Wrings More Power from Solar Cells

Readily rotating molecules let electrons last, resulting in higher solar cell efficiency.

Rules Are Only Suggestions in Heavy Elements

The arrangement of electrons in an exotic human-made element shows that certain properties of heavy elements cannot be predicted using lighter ones.


Spotlight

Tuesday October 03, 2017, 01:05 PM

Stairway to Science

Argonne National Laboratory

Thursday September 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

After-School Energy Rush

Argonne National Laboratory

Thursday September 28, 2017, 10:05 AM

Bringing Diversity Into Computational Science Through Student Outreach

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Thursday September 21, 2017, 03:05 PM

From Science to Finance: SLAC Summer Interns Forge New Paths in STEM

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Thursday September 07, 2017, 02:05 PM

Students Discuss 'Cosmic Opportunities' at 45th Annual SLAC Summer Institute

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Thursday August 31, 2017, 05:05 PM

Binghamton University Opens $70 Million Smart Energy Building

Binghamton University, State University of New York

Wednesday August 23, 2017, 05:05 PM

Widening Horizons for High Schoolers with Code

Argonne National Laboratory

Saturday May 20, 2017, 12:05 PM

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

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Monday May 15, 2017, 01:05 PM

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

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Friday April 07, 2017, 11:05 AM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jonathan Kirzner

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Wednesday April 05, 2017, 12:05 PM

High-Schooler Solves College-Level Security Puzzle From Argonne, Sparks Interest in Career

Argonne National Laboratory

Tuesday March 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jenica Jacobi

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Friday March 24, 2017, 10:40 AM

Great Neck South High School Wins Regional Science Bowl at Brookhaven Lab

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Wednesday February 15, 2017, 04:05 PM

Middle Schoolers Test Their Knowledge at Science Bowl Competition

Argonne National Laboratory

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

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Friday May 13, 2016, 04:05 PM

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

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

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

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Tuesday February 02, 2016, 10:05 AM

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

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Monday November 16, 2015, 04:05 PM

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

Ames Laboratory

Tuesday October 20, 2015, 01:05 PM

Meet Robert Palomino: 'Give Everything a Shot!'

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Tuesday April 22, 2014, 11:30 AM

University of Utah Makes Solar Accessible

University of Utah

Wednesday March 06, 2013, 03:40 PM

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

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday November 16, 2012, 10:00 AM

Texas Tech Energy Commerce Students, Community Light up Tent City

Texas Tech University

Wednesday November 23, 2011, 10:45 AM

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

Temple University

Wednesday July 06, 2011, 06:00 PM

New Research Center To Tackle Critical Challenges Related to Aircraft Design, Wind Energy, Smart Buildings

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday April 22, 2011, 09:00 AM

First Polymer Solar-Thermal Device Heats Home, Saves Money

Wake Forest University

Friday April 15, 2011, 12:25 PM

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

American University

Thursday February 10, 2011, 05:00 PM

ARRA Grant to Help Fund Seminary Building Green Roof

University of Chicago

Tuesday December 07, 2010, 05:00 PM

UC San Diego Installing 2.8 Megawatt Fuel Cell to Anchor Energy Innovation Park

University of California San Diego

Monday November 01, 2010, 12:50 PM

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

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday September 10, 2010, 12:40 PM

Ithaca College Will Host Regional Clean Energy Summit

Ithaca College

Tuesday July 27, 2010, 10:30 AM

Texas Governor Announces $8.4 Million Award to Create Renewable Energy Institute

Texas Tech University

Friday May 07, 2010, 04:20 PM

Creighton University to Offer New Alternative Energy Program

Creighton University

Wednesday May 05, 2010, 09:30 AM

National Engineering Program Seeks Subject Matter Experts in Energy

JETS Junior Engineering Technical Society

Wednesday April 21, 2010, 12:30 PM

Students Using Solar Power To Create Sustainable Solutions for Haiti, Peru

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Wednesday March 03, 2010, 07:00 PM

Helping Hydrogen: Student Inventor Tackles Challenge of Hydrogen Storage

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Thursday February 04, 2010, 02:00 PM

Turning Exercise into Electricity

Furman University

Thursday November 12, 2009, 12:45 PM

Campus Leaders Showing the Way to a Sustainable, Clean Energy Future

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Tuesday November 03, 2009, 04:20 PM

Furman University Receives $2.5 Million DOE Grant for Geothermal Project

Furman University

Thursday September 17, 2009, 02:45 PM

Could Sorghum Become a Significant Alternative Fuel Source?

Salisbury University

Wednesday September 16, 2009, 11:15 AM

Students Navigating the Hudson River With Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Wednesday September 16, 2009, 10:00 AM

College Presidents Flock to D.C., Urge Senate to Pass Clean Energy Bill

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Wednesday July 01, 2009, 04:15 PM

Northeastern Announces New Professional Master's in Energy Systems

Northeastern University

Friday October 12, 2007, 09:35 AM

Kansas Rural Schools To Receive Wind Turbines

Kansas State University

Thursday August 17, 2006, 05:30 PM

High Gas Prices Here to Stay, Says Engineering Professor

Rowan University





Showing results

0-4 Of 2215