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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.


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

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Internship Program Helps Foster Development of Future Nuclear Scientists

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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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

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

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

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

Ames Laboratory

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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

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

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

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Texas Tech Energy Commerce Students, Community Light up Tent City

Texas Tech University

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

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

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First Polymer Solar-Thermal Device Heats Home, Saves Money

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

American University

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ARRA Grant to Help Fund Seminary Building Green Roof

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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

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Friday September 10, 2010, 12:40 PM

Ithaca College Will Host Regional Clean Energy Summit

Ithaca College

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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

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Kansas Rural Schools To Receive Wind Turbines

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Helium: When You Must Be Sure It's Ultra-Pure

Article ID: 667404

Released: 2017-01-10 17:05:34

Source Newsroom: Department of Energy, Office of Science

  • Credit: Image courtesy of R.C. Pardo, Argonne National Laboratory.

    Scientists used this radio frequency discharge source to measure the extremely low abundance of 3He in samples of purified helium, the gas used in precision neutron lifetime experiments.

The Science

The gas that makes balloons float is also vital to scientific experiments. In these experiments, natural helium (He) is purified, but it contains a tiny bit of a slightly different form of helium, known as the isotope 3He. A sample can contain just one 3He in every million helium atoms. That’s too much for many experiments. Many experiments require ultra-pure helium, with a 3He component at least another million times smaller, or one in a trillion of the He atoms. Although techniques are believed to produce ultra-pure helium, until recently no experimental methods have confirmed that the amount of 3He present in a sample is indeed that small. Now, scientists at the ATLAS facility at Argonne National Laboratory have used accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) to precisely measure the very small concentrations of 3He present.

The Impact

Scientists need ultra-pure helium for a wide range of experiments. For example, they use ultra-pure helium to study the longevity and other properties of a free neutron. Free neutrons can provide insights into the formation of the universe and physics beyond the Standard Model, if measured accurately. To determine the purity of the helium for this study, the team demonstrated an approach that reaches a level of precision several orders of magnitude beyond that of any other technique. The team also found that measuring the amount of troublemaking 3He in purified helium samples intended for neutron studies suggest the need for significant experimental corrections, due to neutron absorption by the residual 3He present.

Summary

Answering difficult scientific questions about the nature of the universe requires isotopically purified helium (4He). The isotope 3He can contaminate the helium. Accurately measuring the amount of 3He requires determining the 3He/4He ratio at values well below those that can be achieved with standard mass spectroscopy techniques. Accelerator mass spectrometry provides the only way to directly measure the 3He content in purified helium samples at the level of sensitivity required for the neutron lifetime experiment, which seeks to determine how long a free neutron survives. Scientists used the ATLAS facility to demonstrate measurements of 3He/4He ratios as small as 10−14, or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000. In this work, scientists tuned the ATLAS accelerator, which serves as an ultra-precise mass filter, with specialized carbon ions. They scaled the accelerator components to 3He+. To reduce atmospheric 3He contamination, the team produced the 3He+ ions in a new radio frequency helium discharge source that reduced naturally occurring background sources of 3He. They monitored the final accelerator tune by regularly switching to H3+ ions from high-purity hydrogen. They eliminated H3+ ions and ions consisting of paired deuterium and hydrogen atoms by dissociation in a gold foil, after acceleration to 8 MeV. After stripping the second electron from the 3He+ ion, they dispersed the ions in a magnetic spectrograph and counted the 3He2+ ions. The team anticipates that these observations will also guide the design of future neutron experiments. Based on known improvements, an ultimate sensitivity to 3He/4He ratios as small as 10−15 appears to be feasible.

Funding

We acknowledge the support of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce, in providing support for facilities used in this work. This work was also supported in part by the National Science Foundation under grant PHY-0855593 and by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Office of Nuclear Physics, under contract DE-AC02-06CH11357. This research used the resources of the ATLAS facility, which is a DOE Office of Science user facility at Argonne National Laboratory.

Publications

H.P. Mumm, M.G. Huber, W. Bauder, N. Abrams, C.M Deibel, C.R. Huffer, P.R. Huffman, K.W. Schelhammer, R. Janssens, C.L. Jiang, R.H. Scott, R.C. Pardo, K.E. Rehm, R. Vondrasek, C.M. Swank, C.M. O’Shaughnessy, M. Paul, and L. Yang, “High-sensitivity measurement of 3He-4He isotopic ratios for ultracold neutron experiments.” Physical Review C 93, 065502 (2016). [DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevC.93.065502]