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  • 2018-07-02 10:05:14
  • Article ID: 696908

Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, July 2018

  • Credit: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory contributed buildings and structures datasets to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support emergency response following major volcanic eruptions on the Island of Hawaii. Combined with other mapping layers—such as lava flows, outlined in red, and active or inactive fissures, shown in red or green triangles, respectively—structural information helps identify immediate risks or hazards and aids in damage assessment.

  • Credit: Pengfei Cao and Bingrui Li/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    Rubbery segments in a ribbon-shaped polymer membrane make it super-stretchy. Hydrogen-bonding molecules, shown as yellow and green spheres, allow the material to self-heal after a cut or break and recover its ability to separate gases such as carbon dioxide, shown as red and black spheres, from nitrogen, depicted as blue spheres.

  • Credit: Ngoc Nguyen/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    Researchers at ORNL developed a scalable processing technique to 3D print a plant-based composite material.

  • Credit: Christopher Bowland/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    The micrograph shows a cross-section of the weld area between two 3D-printed layers of a plant-based composite material developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

  • Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    Ben Ollis, left, and Phil Irminger of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Power and Energy Systems Group test components on the SI-GRID platform in a safe, low-voltage setting.

  • Credit: Kelley Smith/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    Postdoctoral researcher Cory Knoot prepares a sample of blue-green algae for neutron scattering experiment on the Bio-SANS instrument at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor.

  • Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    ORNL researchers insert a device to be tested on the SI-GRID platform.

Datasets—Assessing lava flow impacts 

Geospatial data from Oak Ridge National Laboratory is supporting emergency response to destructive volcanic activity in Hawaii. Researchers provided the Federal Emergency Management Agency with information on buildings and structures that was rapidly extracted from satellite imagery using novel deep learning techniques. Ongoing eruptions from the Kilauea volcano since May have opened fissures of flowing lava across the Big Island, damaging more than 700 homes. Identifying and characterizing vulnerable and affected structures, such as residences, businesses, schools and hospitals, are major aspects of emergency response and post-impact damage assessments. “Our expertise with large datasets combined with high-performance computing resources gives us the ability to provide this information very quickly,” said ORNL’s Mark Tuttle. His team processed data focused near Kilauea in less than a day and all visible structures on the entire Island of Hawaii in two weeks. [Contact: Ashley Huff, (865) 241-6451; huffac@ornl.gov

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/FEMA-Hawaii.jpg 

Caption: Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory contributed buildings and structures datasets to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support emergency response following major volcanic eruptions on the Island of Hawaii. Combined with other mapping layers—such as lava flows, outlined in red, and active or inactive fissures, shown in red or green triangles, respectively—structural information helps identify immediate risks or hazards and aids in damage assessment. Credit: Federal Emergency Management Agency 

Chemistry—Polymer, heal thyself 

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory–led team has developed super-stretchy polymers with amazing self-healing abilities that could lead to longer-lasting consumer products. The polymers are among the world’s stretchiest and can elongate about 1,000 to 5,600 percent before breaking. After breaking, they can be healed with complete restoration of elasticity by merely touching adjacent pieces. By tailoring the properties of segments and how they link to the polymer, the scientists tuned tensile strength, toughness and elastic recovery. They used stretchy polymeric strips to create a permeable membrane that selectively separated two gases. After that membrane broke, it self-healed to once again separate the gases. Tailoring the degree of hydrogen bonding was the key to self-healing and could be exploited to make other self-healing materials. “These novel materials provide an attractive platform for fabrication of functional films, membranes, coatings and devices with prolonged lifetimes,” said ORNL’s Tomonori Saito. The work was published in Advanced Functional Materials. [Contact: Dawn Levy, (865) 576-6448; levyd@ornl.gov] 

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/news/images/Super-stretchy-self-healing-material.jpg 

Caption: Rubbery segments in a ribbon-shaped polymer membrane make it super-stretchy. Hydrogen-bonding molecules, shown as yellow and green spheres, allow the material to self-heal after a cut or break and recover its ability to separate gases such as carbon dioxide, shown as red and black spheres, from nitrogen, depicted as blue spheres. Credit: Pengfei Cao and Bingrui Li/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

Materials – Printing with plants 

A scalable processing technique developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory uses plant-based materials for 3D printing and offers a promising additional revenue stream for biorefineries. Scientists created a new material with excellent printability and performance by tapping into lignin—a key component of plant cell walls that provides sturdiness. Lignin is a current byproduct of the biofuels process that could become a valuable coproduct with this new use. The method combines lignin, rubber, carbon fiber and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS—commonly used in plastic toys—to 3D print structures with 100 percent improved weld strength between the layers over ABS alone. “To achieve this, we are building on our experience with lignin during the last five years,” said ORNL’s Amit Naskar. “We will continue fine tuning the material’s composition to make it even stronger.” The research team published details about the patent-pending process in Applied Materials Today. [Contact: Kim Askey, (865) 576-2841; askeyka@ornl.gov

Image 1: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/Plant-based_3D-printed_material.jpg

Caption: Researchers at ORNL developed a scalable processing technique to 3D print a plant-based composite material. Credit: Ngoc Nguyen/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

Image 2: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/Plant-based_3D-printed_material_micrograph.jpg

Caption: The micrograph shows a cross-section of the weld area between two 3D-printed layers of a plant-based composite material developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Credit: Christopher Bowland/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

Electricity—Mini-grid to the max 

Oak Ridge National Laboratory engineers have devised a testbed that lets them mimic high-voltage equipment in a safe, low-voltage setting. The Software-Defined Intelligent Grid Research Integration and Development platform, or SI-GRID, operates below 100 volts—less than a household outlet— and has been used to develop communications and controls for microgrids. The platform gives researchers crucial information on how the grid functions when loads suddenly shift during a power outage, and how it can more quickly recover. It can, for instance, test protective relays that detect electrical faults and prevent damage to the network. “Traditionally, we would rely on computer models of the grid to figure out how new components will work,” said Ben Ollis of ORNL. “With the higher fidelity of a physical system, we can better understand power quality issues and dynamics.” The platform explores ways to monitor the grid, protect it from disturbances like storms and cyber intrusion and make it more resilient when power is disrupted. [Contact: Stephanie Seay, (865) 576-9894; seaysg@ornl.gov

Image 1: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/SI-GRID_1.jpg

Caption: Ben Ollis, left, and Phil Irminger of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Power and Energy Systems Group test components on the SI-GRID platform in a safe, low-voltage setting. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

Image 2: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/SI-GRID_2.jpg

Caption: ORNL researchers insert a device to be tested on the SI-GRID platform. Credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

Neutrons—Making sustainable biofuels 

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are using neutrons to understand why certain hydrocarbons produced by blue-green algae are important to their biology, so new strains can be engineered to sustainably produce biofuels. Neutron scattering makes it possible to non-destructively see inside living algae at real world temperatures and in real time. “No one has used neutron scattering to test the hypothesized role hydrocarbons in modulating membrane structure in algae,” said Cory Knoot of the Washington University in St. Louis. “Understanding why alkanes are important to cyanobacterial health could make it easier to engineer new strains of the algae that can sustainably produce alkanes as biofuels.” Knoot used the lab’s Biological Small-Angle Neutron Scattering, or Bio-SANS, instrument, which is designed and optimized to analyze the structure, function and dynamics of complex biological systems.  [Contact: Kelley Smith, (865) 576-5668; smithks@ornl.gov

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/neu.png 

Caption: Postdoctoral researcher Cory Knoot prepares a sample of blue-green algae for neutron scattering experiment on the Bio-SANS instrument at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor. Credit: Kelley Smith/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

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Theorists Publish Highest-Precision Prediction of Muon Magnetic Anomaly

UPTON, NY--Theoretical physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Brookhaven National Laboratory and their collaborators have just released the most precise prediction of how subatomic particles called muons--heavy cousins of electrons--"wobble" off their path in a powerful magnetic field.

How Gold Nanoparticles Could Improve Solar Energy Storage

Star-shaped gold nanoparticles, coated with a semiconductor, can produce hydrogen from water over four times more efficiently than other methods - opening the door to improved storage of solar energy and other advances that could boost renewable energy use and combat climate change, according to Rutgers University-New Brunswick researchers.

National Ignition Facility Sets New Energy Record

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser system has set a new record, firing 2.15 megajoules (MJ) of energy to its target chamber - a 15 percent improvement over NIF's design specification of 1.8 MJ, and more than 10 percent higher than the previous 1.9 MJ energy record set in March 2012. Increasing NIF's energy limit will expand the parameter space for stockpile stewardship experiments and provide a significant boost to the pursuit of ignition.

Generating Electrical Power From Waste Heat

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories have developed a tiny silicon-based device that can harness what was previously called waste heat and turn it into DC power.

Extracting Signals of Elusive Particles from Giant Chambers Filled with Liquefied Argon

In two new papers, the MicroBooNE collaboration describes how they use this detector to pick up the telltale signs of neutrinos. The papers include details of the signal processing algorithms that are critical to accurately reconstruct neutrinos' subtle interactions with atoms in the detector.

SLAC's Ultra-High-Speed 'Electron Camera' Catches Molecules at a Crossroads

An extremely fast "electron camera" at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has produced the most detailed atomic movie of the decisive point where molecules hit by light can either stay intact or break apart. The results could lead to a better understanding of how molecules respond to light in processes that are crucial for life, like photosynthesis and vision, or that are potentially harmful, such as DNA damage from ultraviolet light.

Merging Antenna and Electronics Boosts Energy and Spectrum Efficiency

By integrating the design of antenna and electronics, researchers have boosted the energy and spectrum efficiency for a new class of millimeter wave transmitters, allowing improved modulation and reduced generation of waste heat. The result could be longer talk time and higher data rates in millimeter wave wireless communication devices for future 5G applications.

New Experimental Results from the Largest and Most Sophisticated Stellerator

An international team is running tests on the largest and most sophisticated stellerator, the Wendelstein 7-X fusion experiment. This complex machine is housed at the Max-Planck-Institute of Plasma Physics, and researchers are analyzing data from the first experiment campaign that took place in 2016, hoping to understand the science of fusion reactors. In a new report in Physics of Plasma, the scientists recount the first detailed characterization of plasma turbulence at the outer edge of the stellerator.

X-Ray Experiment Confirms Theoretical Model for Making New Materials

Experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have confirmed the predictive power of a new computational approach to materials synthesis. Researchers say that this approach, developed at the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, could streamline the creation of novel materials for solar cells, batteries and other sustainable technologies.

Diesel Doesn't Float This Boat

Marine research could soon be possible without the risk of polluting either the air or the ocean. It's thanks to a new ship design and feasibility study led by Sandia National Laboratories. Despite many advantages, the feasibility of a hydrogen-powered research vessel has never been studied or proven. Until now.


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Seth Davidovits Wins 2018 Marshall N. Rosenbluth Dissertation Award

Article describes dissertation award won by Seth Davidovits.

DOE Launches New Lab Partnering Service

The U.S. Department of Energy officially launched the Lab Partnering Service (LPS), an on-line, single access point platform for investors, innovators, and institutions to identify, locate, and obtain information from DOE's 17 national laboratories.

Department of Energy Announces $75 Million for High Energy Physics Research

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $75 million in funding for 77 university research awards on a range of topics in high energy physics to advance knowledge of how the universe works at its most fundamental level.

Thesis Prize Winner's Calculations Characterize Neutrino Interactions

Alessandro Baroni is helping demystify one of the most mysterious particles. His work is contributing to our understanding of neutrinos, and it has earned him the 2017 Jefferson Science Associates Thesis Prize for work performed on a thesis related to research at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

10 Questions for Steven Cowley, New Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Steven Cowley, a theoretical physicist and international authority on fusion energy, became the seventh Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPon July 1 and will be Princeton professor of astrophysical sciences on September 1.

Ames Laboratory to lead new Center for Advancement of Topological Semimetals

Ames Laboratory will receive $10.75 million over four yearrs for a new Center for Advancement of Topological Semimetals as one of the Department of Energy's Energy Frontier Research Centers.

DOE Awards $100 Million for Energy Frontier Research Centers

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced $100 million in funding for 42 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to strengthen U.S. economic leadership and energy security.

Argonne welcomes <em>The Martian</em> author Andy Weir

Best-selling science fiction author Andy Weir visited Argonne to give a series of standing-room-only talks, inspiring students and scientists alike.

United States and Italy Sign Agreement to Collaborate on Sterile Neutrino Research

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Italian Embassy, on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, signed an agreement for collaboration on research with the international Short-Baseline Neutrino (SBN) program hosted at DOE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

UW Professor and Clean Energy Institute Director Daniel Schwartz Wins Highest U.S. Award for STEM Mentors

Daniel Schwartz, University of Washington Professor and Clean Energy Institute Director, received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) this week.


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Tracking Down Helium-4's Quarks and Gluons

Scientists obtain the first exclusive measurement of deeply virtual Compton scattering of electrons off helium-4, vital to obtaining an unambiguous 3-D view of quarks and gluons within nuclei.

Predicting Magnetic Explosions: From Plasma Current Sheet Disruption to Fast Magnetic Reconnection

Supercomputer simulations and theoretical analysis shed new light on when and how fast reconnection occurs.

Is Nature Exclusively Left Handed? Using Chilled Atoms to Find Out

Elegant techniques of trapping and polarizing atoms open vistas for beta-decay tests of fundamental symmetries, key to understanding the most basic forces and particles constituting our universe.

As Future Batteries, Hybrid Supercapacitors Are Super-Charged

A new supercapacitor could be a competitive alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

Forever Young Catalyst Reduces Diesel Emissions

Atom probe tomography reveals key explanations for stable performance over a cutting-edge diesel-exhaust catalyst's lifetime.

Sense Like a Shark: Saltwater-Submersible Films

A nickelate thin film senses electric field changes analogous to the electroreception sensing organ in sharks, which detects the bioelectric fields of prey.

A Bit of Quantum Logic--What Did the Atom Say to the Quantum Dot?

Let's talk! Scientists demonstrate coherent coupling between a quantum dot and a donor atom in silicon, vital for moving information inside quantum computers.

New Tech Uses Isomeric Beams to Study How and Where the Galaxy Makes One of Its Most Common Elements

A new measurement using a beam of aluminum-26 prepared in a metastable state allows researchers to better understand the creation of the elements in our galaxy.

Simulations of Magnetically Confined Plasmas Reveal a Self-Regulating Stabilizing Mechanism

A mysterious mechanism that prevents instabilities may be similar to the process that maintains the Earth's magnetic field.

Seeing All the Colors of the Plasma Wind

2-D velocity imaging helps fusion researchers understand the role of ion winds (aka flows) in the boundary of tokamak plasmas.


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