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Machine Learning Dramatically Streamlines Search for More Efficient Chemical Reactions

A catalytic reaction may follow thousands of possible paths, and it can take years to identify which one it actually takes so scientists can tweak it and make it more efficient. Now researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have taken a big step toward cutting through this thicket of possibilities.

Freezing Lithium Batteries May Make Them Safer and Bendable

Columbia Engineering Professor Yuan Yang has developed a new method that could lead to lithium batteries that are safer, have longer battery life, and are bendable, providing new possibilities such as flexible smartphones. His new technique uses ice-templating to control the structure of the solid electrolyte for lithium batteries that are used in portable electronics, electric vehicles, and grid-level energy storage. The study is published online April 24 in Nano Letters.

New Study Reveals the Mystery Behind the Formation of Hollowed Nanoparticles During Metal Oxidation

In a newly published <i>Science</i> paper, Argonne and Temple University researchers reveal new knowledge about the behavior of metal nanoparticles when they undergo oxidation, by integrating X-ray imaging and computer modeling and simulation. This knowledge adds to our understanding of fundamental processes like oxidation and corrosion.

Rare Supernova Discovery Ushers in New Era for Cosmology

With help from a supernova-hunting pipeline based at NERSC, astronomers captured multiple images of a gravitationally lensed Type 1a supernova. This is currently the only one, but if astronomers can find more they may be able to measure Universal expansion within four percent accuracy. Luckily, Berkeley Lab researchers do have a method for finding more.

Making Batteries From Waste Glass Bottles

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering have used waste glass bottles and a low-cost chemical process to create nanosilicon anodes for high-performance lithium-ion batteries. The batteries will extend the range of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and provide more power with fewer charges to personal electronics like cell phones and laptops.

Changing the Game

High performance computing researcher Shuaiwen Leon Song asked if hardware called 3D stacked memory could do something it was never designed to do--help render 3D graphics.

A Scientific Advance for Cool Clothing: Temperature-Wise, That Is

Stanford University researchers, with the aid of the Comet supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer at UC San Diego, have engineered a low-cost plastic material that could become the basis for clothing that cools the wearer, reducing the need for energy-consuming air conditioning.

Adjusting Solar Panel Angles a Few Times a Year Makes Them More Efficient

With Earth Day approaching, new research from Binghamton University-State of New York could help U.S. residents save more energy, regardless of location, if they adjust the angles of solar panels four to five times a year.

A Real CAM-Do Attitude

A multi-institutional team used resources at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility to catalog how desert plants photosynthetic processes vary. The study could help scientists engineer drought-resistant crops for food and fuel.

Predictive Power

The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors carried out the largest time-dependent simulation of a nuclear reactor ever to support Tennessee Valley Authority and Westinghouse Electric Company during the startup of Watts Bar Unit 2, the first new US nuclear reactor in 20 years. The simulation was carried out primarily on OLCF resources.


3 Small Energy Firms to Collaborate with PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is collaborating with three small businesses to address technical challenges concerning hydrogen for fuel cell cars, bio-coal and nanomaterial manufacturing.

ORNL to Collaborate with Five Small Businesses to Advance Energy Tech

Five small companies have been selected to partner with the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory to move technologies in commercial refrigeration systems, water power generation, bioenergy and battery manufacturing closer to the marketplace.

U.S. Department of Energy's INCITE Program Seeks Advanced Computational Research Proposals for 2018

The Department of Energy's INCITE program will be accepting proposals for high-impact, computationally intensive research campaigns in a broad array of science, engineering, and computer science domains.

New Berkeley Lab Project Turns Waste Heat to Electricity

A new Berkeley Lab project seeks to efficiently capture waste heat and convert it to electricity, potentially saving California up to $385 million per year. With a $2-million grant from the California Energy Commission, Berkeley Lab scientists will work with Alphabet Energy to create a cost-effective thermoelectric waste heat recovery system.

New SLAC Theory Institute Aims to Speed Research on Exotic Materials at Light Sources

A new institute at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is using the power of theory to search for new types of materials that could revolutionize society - by making it possible, for instance, to transmit electricity over power lines with no loss.

Lenvio Inc. Exclusively Licenses ORNL Malware Behavior Detection Technology

Virginia-based Lenvio Inc. has exclusively licensed a cyber security technology from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory that can quickly detect malicious behavior in software not previously identified as a threat.

Argonne Scientist and Nobel Laureate Alexei Abrikosov Dies at 88

Alexei Abrikosov, an acclaimed physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory who received the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on superconducting materials, died Wednesday, March 29. He was 88.

Jefferson Lab Accomplishes Critical Milestones Toward Completion of 12 GeV Upgrade

The Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has achieved two major commissioning milestones and is now entering the final stretch of work to conclude its first major upgrade. Recently, the CEBAF accelerator delivered electron beams into two of its experimental halls, Halls B and C, at energies not possible before the upgrade for commissioning of the experimental equipment currently in each hall. Data were recorded in each hall, which were then confirmed to be of sufficient quality to allow for particle identification, a primary indicator of good detector operation.

Valerie Taylor Named Argonne National Laboratory's Mathematics and Computer Science Division Director

Computer scientist Valerie Taylor has been appointed as the next director of the Mathematics and Computer Science division at Argonne, effective July 3, 2017.

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.


The Roadmap to Quark Soup

Scientists discover new signposts in the quest to determine how matter from the early universe turned into the world we know today.

Neutrons Play the Lead to Protons in Dance Around "Double-Magic" Nucleus

Electric and magnetic properties of a radioactive atom provide unique insight into the nature of proton and neutron motion.

Ultrafast Imaging Reveals the Electron's New Clothes

Scientists use high-speed electrons to visualize "dress-like" distortions in the atomic lattice. This work reveals the vital role of electron-lattice interactions in manganites. This material could be used in data-storage devices with increased data density and reduced power requirements.

One Small Change Makes Solar Cells More Efficient

For years, scientists have explored using tiny drops of designer materials, called quantum dots, to make better solar cells. Adding small amounts of manganese decreases the ability of quantum dots to absorb light but increases the current produced by an average of 300%.

Electronic "Cyclones" at the Nanoscale

Through highly controlled synthesis, scientists controlled competing atomic forces to let spiral electronic structures form. These polar vortices can serve as a precursor to new phenomena in materials. The materials could be vital for ultra-low energy electronic devices.

In a Flash! A New Way for Making Ceramics

A new process controllably but instantly consolidates ceramic parts, potentially important for manufacturing.

Deciphering Material Properties at the Single-Atom Level

Scientists determine the precise location and identity of all 23,000 atoms in a nanoparticle.

Smallest Transistor Ever

It has long been thought that building nanometer-sized transistors was impossible. Simply put, the physics and atomic structural imperfections couldn't be overcome. However, scientists built fully functional, nanometer-sized transistors.

Creation of Artificial Atoms

For the first time, scientists created a tunable artificial atom in graphene. The results from this research demonstrate a viable, controllable, and reversible technique to confine electrons in graphene.

Developing Tools to Understand Lithium-Ion Battery Instabilities

Scientists develop tools to understand Li-ion battery instabilities, enabling the study of electrodes and solid-electrolyte interphase formation.


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

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

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Middle Schoolers Test Their Knowledge at Science Bowl Competition

Argonne National Laboratory

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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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Electronic "Cyclones" at the Nanoscale

Article ID: 673356

Released: 2017-04-20 13:05:43

Source Newsroom: Department of Energy, Office of Science

  • Credit: Image courtesy of R. Ramesh, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

    By controlling the layered structure, scientists observed discrete spiral regions in the ionic structure of multiple layered materials. The image shows an atomic-scale, high-resolution scanning transmission electron micrograph of the layered structures, with an overlay (yellow arrows) showing the local ionic movement, demonstrating the spiral configurations or “polar vortices.” The materials are made of very thin layers of electrically ordered lead titanate and electrically disordered strontium titanate.

The Science

It has long been thought that spiral electronic structures called “polar vortices” would not be produced in electrically ordered materials. The idea persisted although scientists observed a similar phenomenon on the surface of some magnetic materials. However, through highly controlled multilayer thin film synthesis, scientists controlled various competing atomic forces to allow these regions to form.  

The Impact

Polar vortices can serve as a precursor to new phenomena in materials. The materials could be vital for ultra-low energy electronic devices. The vortices in electrically ordered, or ferroelectric, materials are similar to phenomena in magnetic materials — local, rotating magnetic regions called skyrmions.

Summary

Recently, scientists discovered that in some magnetic materials, magnetic spirals, called skyrmions, could form on the material’s surface. These skyrmions can retain their organization as they are moved over macroscopic distances, which makes them excellent candidates for ultra-low power electronics applications. Until now, scientists assumed this phenomenon was unique to magnetic materials. Ferroelectrics are a class of non-magnetic materials that have local regions where the atomic charge orients spontaneously (below a critical temperature) to produce regions where the electric “poles” of the atoms (like the “poles” of the Earth) align, resulting in electrical polarization. The direction of this aligned orientation, called polarization, in a ferroelectric can be modified by application of an electric field. However, scientists did not think that regions of rotating electrical polarization in ferroelectrics (similar to the skyrmions observed in magnetic materials) could be formed. By careful synthesis of ultrafine layered structures or superlattices, built from layers of lead titanate and strontium titanate (controlled down to a thickness of 4 angstroms (for comparison, a cold virus is 300 angstroms across)), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers discovered they could create electrical spirals, called polar vortices, similar to the rotating vortices observed in magnetic systems. Changing the superlattice constituent layer thicknesses allows one to tune the characteristics of the rotating regions and produce entirely new phenomena in these materials. The fact that these polar vortices can display emergent behavior in their electronic, optical, magnetic, and other properties, such as a sense of handedness (chirality) suggests the possibility of new properties and potential applications for the material.

Funding

This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory); National Science Foundation (University of California Berkeley and Pennsylvania State University); and Army Research Office (University of California Berkeley). This research used resources at the Advanced Light Source, Advanced Photon Source, and Molecular Foundry, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science user facilities.

Publications

A.K. Yadav, C.T. Nelson, S.L. Hsu, Z. Hong, J.D. Clarkson, C.M. Schlepütz, A.R. Damodaran, P. Shafer, E. Arenholz, L.R. Dedon, D. Chen, A. Vishwanath, A.M. Minor, L.Q. Chen, J.F. Scott, L.W. Martin, and R. Ramesh, “Observation of polar vortices in oxide superlattices.” Nature 530, 198-201 (2016). [DOI: 10.1038/nature16463]