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    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.
    • 2017-09-12 10:05:52
    • Article ID: 680935

    Boise State Researchers Earn Grants to Manufacture Sensors for Nuclear Reactors, Space

    • Credit: Allison Corona

      Dave Estrada, left, with undergraduate mechanical engineering student Alondra Perez in the Advanced Nanomaterials and Manufacturing Lab.

    • Credit: Allison Corona

      Harish Subbaraman, left, with doctoral student Ashita Chandnani in the Advanced Nanomaterials and Manufacturing Lab

    David Estrada and Harish Subbaraman, co-directors of the Advanced Nanomaterials and Manufacturing Laboratory (ANML) at Boise State University, recently were awarded two national grants related to additive manufacturing for extreme environments – including nuclear reactors and space.

    A one-year, $295,392 grant administered by the Department of Energy will be used to purchase advanced manufacturing equipment needed to build sensors suitable for extreme environments. Estrada and Subbaraman aim to establish a state-of-the-art laboratory capable of producing the radiation tolerant nanoparticle based inks needed to print nuclear sensors that can be inserted into a nuclear reactor. Such “in-pile” sensors will transmit real-time data about the reactor environment, providing new insights into reactor processes in order to strengthen U.S. competitiveness in nuclear research and development. The new nanoparticle ink synthesis lab will place the ANML among a national network of nuclear science user facilities for the benefit of researchers from across the nation.

    Another three-year, $748,000 grant administered by NASA's Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) will use nanotechnology to develop space-grade flexible sensors that are capable of transmitting real-time sensing data for trace gas vapors and exposure to radiation while in space.

    "Our vision is to leverage the unique physical properties of nanomaterials to create a new design paradigm for space-grade flexible hybrid electronics sensor systems, and build a light, flexible and self-sustaining multifunctional sensor to provide real-time information about crew and vehicle health," said Estrada.

    "Integrating our nanomaterials with advanced manufacturing techniques could potentially provide a low-cost path towards large-scale manufacturing of nanomaterial-based sensors for earth based applications in agricultural technologies, human health monitoring systems and aerospace sensors," Subbaraman added.

    In collaboration with the University of Idaho, American Semiconductor and the NASA Ames Research Center, Boise State’s ANML will combine printed carbon nanotubes, polymer brushes, chalcogenide glasses and thermoelectric nanomaterials with flexible silicon-integrated circuits and wireless communications hardware to create the flexible multifunctional sensor nodes.

    The ability to manipulate matter at the nanoscale enables the bottom-up design of innovative nanomaterial-based sensors, which benefit from unique properties such as high surface-area-to-volume ratio and tunable transport processes, allowing the team to design highly sensitive and mission specific sensors. The ability to print nanomaterials using additive manufacturing techniques highlights a path towards the digital design and in-space manufacturing of mission-specific sensors.

    Additionally, they are partnering with the Johnson Space Center, Marshall Flight Space Center, Air Force Research Laboratories and PakSense/Emerson to guide project progress towards NASA’s performance goals, as well as translate this new sensor technology into defense and consumer electronics industries.

    The EPSCoR program supports science and technology research and development at colleges and universities in areas such as remote sensing, nanotechnology, astrophysics and aeronautics

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    Stronger, lighter, greener

    A new award-winning magnet technology invented at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory could help drive the nation's transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric and hybrid power more rapidly, at lower cost, and in a more environmentally friendly way.

    Science Up-Close: Developing a Cookbook for Efficient Fusion Energy

    To develop a future fusion reactor, scientists need to understand how and why plasma in fusion experiments moves into a "high-confinement mode" where particles and heat can't escape. Scientists at the Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory simulated the transition into that mode starting from the most basic physics principles.

    Peering into the Mist: How Water Vapor Changes Metal at the Atomic Level

    New insights into molecular-level processes could help prevent corrosion and improve catalytic conversion.

    Neutron science publications reach new highs at ORNL's flagship facilities

    The High Flux Isotope Reactor and the Spallation Neutron Source at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have reached new levels of increased science productivity. In 2018, a record high of more than 500 scientific instrument publications were produced between HFIR and SNS--based on neutron beamline experiments conducted by more than 1,200 US and international researchers who used the world-leading facilities.

    Fiery sighting: A new physics of eruptions that damage fusion experiments

    Feature describes first direct sighting of a trigger for bursts of heat that can disrupt fusion reactions.

    Microbial Types May Prove Key to Gas Releases from Thawing Permafrost

    Scientists discover key types of microbes that degrade organic matter and release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

    An effect that Einstein helped discover 100 years ago offers new insight into a puzzling magnetic phenomenon

    Experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have seen for the first time what happens when magnetic materials are demagnetized at ultrafast speeds of millionths of a billionth of a second: The atoms on the surface of the material move, much like the iron bar did. The work, done at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser, was published in Nature earlier this month.

    Found: A precise method for determining how waves and particles affect fusion reactions

    Like surfers catching ocean waves, particles within plasma can ride waves oscillating through the plasma during fusion energy experiments. Now a team of physicists led by PPPL has devised a faster method to determine how much this interaction contributes to efficiency loss in tokamaks.

    Discovery adapts natural membrane to make hydrogen fuel from water

    In a recent study from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, scientists have combined two membrane-bound protein complexes to perform a complete conversion of water molecules to hydrogen and oxygen.

    How Plants Regulate Sugar Deposition in Cell Walls

    Identified genes involved in plant cell wall polysaccharide production and restructuring could aid in engineering bioenergy crops.


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    Top 10 Discoveries of 2018

    Every year, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory compiles a list of the biggest advances made by the Lab's staff scientists, engineers, and visiting researchers. From uncovering mysteries of the universe to building better batteries, here, in no particular order, are our picks for the top 10 discoveries of 2018.

    U.S. Department of Energy Announces $33 Million for Small Business Research and Development Grants

    The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will award 189 grants totaling $33 million to 149 small businesses in 32 states.

    DOE to Provide $16 Million for New Research into Atmospheric and Terrestrial Processes

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide $16 million for new observational research aimed at improving the accuracy of today's climate and earth system models.

    Machine learning award powers Argonne leadership in engine design

    When attempting to design engines to be more fuel-efficient and emissions-free, automotive manufacturers have to take into account all the complexity inherent in the combustion process.

    ORNL partners with industry to address multiple nuclear technology challenges

    The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is collaborating with industry on six new projects focused on advancing commercial nuclear energy technologies that offer potential improvements to current nuclear reactors and move new reactor designs closer to deployment.

    Lithium earns honors for three physicists working to bring the energy that powers the sun to Earth

    Feature describes research of three PPPL physicists who have won the laboratory's 2018 outstanding research awards

    DOE approves technical plan and cost estimate to upgrade Argonne facility; Project will create X-rays that illuminate the atomic scale, in 3D

    The U.S. Department of Energy has approved the technical scope, cost estimate and plan of work for an upgrade of the Advanced Photon Source, a major storage-ring X-ray source at Argonne.

    Costas Soukoulis elected to National Academy of Inventors

    Costas Soukoulis, Ames Laboratory senior scientist and Iowa State University Frances M. Craig Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor, has been named as a 2018 National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow.

    Biophysicist F. William Studier Elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

    F. William Studier, a Senior Biophysicist Emeritus at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry at Stony Brook University, has been elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). He is among 148 renowned academic inventors being recognized by NAI for 2018.

    Blast to the future

    A grant from DOE's Technology Commercialization Fund will help researchers at Argonne and industry partners seek improvements to U.S. manufacturing by making discovery and design of new materials more efficient.


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    Rapid Lake Draining on Ice Sheets Changes How Water Moves in Unexpected Ways

    Widespread fracturing during lake drainage triggers vertical shafts to form that affect the Greenland Ice Sheet.

    New Historical Emissions Trends Estimated with the Community Emissions Data System

    The data system will allow for more detailed, consistent, and up-to-date global emissions trends that will aid in understanding aerosol effects.

    Peering into the Mist: How Water Vapor Changes Metal at the Atomic Level

    New insights into molecular-level processes could help prevent corrosion and improve catalytic conversion.

    Microbial Types May Prove Key to Gas Releases from Thawing Permafrost

    Scientists discover key types of microbes that degrade organic matter and release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

    New Method Knocks Out Yeast Genes with Single-Point Precision

    Researchers can precisely study how different genes affect key properties in a yeast used industrially to produce fuel and chemicals.

    How Plants Regulate Sugar Deposition in Cell Walls

    Identified genes involved in plant cell wall polysaccharide production and restructuring could aid in engineering bioenergy crops.

    Scientists Identify Gene Cluster in Budding Yeasts with Major Implications for Renewable Energy

    How yeast partition carbon into a metabolite may offer insights into boosting production for biofuels.

    More Designer Peptides, More Possibilities

    A combined experimental and modeling approach contributes to understanding small proteins with potential use in industrial, therapeutic applications.

    Deep Learning for Electron Microscopy

    Artificial intelligence on Summit to discover atomic-scale structures.

    Clarifying Rates of Methylmercury Production

    New model provides more accurate estimates of how fast microbes produce a mercury-based neurotoxin.


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