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  • 2018-05-01 09:20:28
  • Article ID: 693768

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

  • Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    ORNL’s Jeffrey Warren (left) and Anirban Guha used a climate-controlled test chamber to simulate heat waves that peaked above 120 F and analyzed the impact on certain tree species.

  • Credit: Jason Richards/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    ORNL researchers test a sensor array inside a traffic cone as they developed a method to more accurately identify vehicles.

  • Credit: Jason Richards/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    ORNL scientists Ryan Kerekes (left) and Ryan Tokola codeveloped a prototype of the sensor platform for vehicle fingerprinting.

  • Credit: Dmytro Bykov/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    Computational modeling helped researchers visualize possible reactions when olefins are exposed to various catalysts.

  • Credit: Steve Gribben/NASA, Johns Hopkins APL

    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, shown in this artist’s concept, is scheduled to launch on July 31 to contribute data that may improve the agency’s ability to forecast space weather, which can disrupt communications satellites and power grids, and may demystify why the Sun’s corona is hotter than its surface.

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

    The ORNL-led team identified a low-barrier hydrogen bond, involving a single hydrogen atom formed in this catalytic triad, which is crucial for the enzyme’s ability to disrupt the drugs’ molecular structure and render them ineffective to combat pathogenic bacteria.

Plants—Surviving the heat 

A study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory detailed the response and recovery of certain tree species after short-term, extreme weather events such as heat waves. Scientists exposed sets of four different saplings to dramatic temperature swings that peaked above 120 F, or around 50 C, in a climate-controlled test chamber. Sensors attached to each tree and located throughout the chamber tracked telltale signs of heat and drought stress such as fluxes in carbon uptake and shifts in water demand. “By monitoring specific trait behavior, we characterized each tree’s reaction to being kicked into survival mode for brief periods of time,” said ORNL’s Anirban Guha. “We found that during simulated heat waves, the entire plant mechanism was impacted, which affects its year-long survival.” The ORNL-led team’s findings, which were published in Environmental Research Letters, will improve predictive Earth system models. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219; shoemakerms@ornl.gov

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/ORNL_heat_wave_chamber2.jpg 

Caption: ORNL’s Jeffrey Warren (left) and Anirban Guha used a climate-controlled test chamber to simulate heat waves that peaked above 120 F and analyzed the impact on certain tree species. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy. 

Video: https://youtu.be/5j-jEEJwLCU 

Caption: ORNL scientists exposed sets of four different saplings to dramatic temperature swings that peaked above 120 F, or around 50 C, in a climate-controlled test chamber. Credit: Jenny Woodbery/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy. 

Sensors—Vehicle fingerprinting 

Algorithms designed to parse data gathered by roadside sensors could make it easier to identify vehicles sought in AMBER Alerts and to assist researchers studying traffic patterns. Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists built a sensor platform to collect detailed images of cars, as well as electrical pulses and audio signals from engines, to uniquely identify vehicles. “Two cars with an identical make, model and color would be difficult to differentiate on the road,” said ORNL’s Ryan Kerekes. “With data pulled from sensors, we can use machine learning to extract important features to create a vehicle ‘fingerprint.’” The algorithms could be deployed with specialized sensor arrays or modified to apply to existing traffic cameras. The ORNL team presented their work at an IEEE Vehicle Technology Conference. Research is ongoing to upgrade sensors to capture larger vehicles and to improve matching algorithms. [Contact: Stephanie Seay, (865) 576-9894; seaysg@ornl.gov

Image #1: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/VehicleIDSensorinCone2.jpg 

Caption: ORNL researchers test a sensor array inside a traffic cone as they developed a method to more accurately identify vehicles. Credit: Jason Richards/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy. 

Image #2: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/VehicleIDSensorKerekesTokola.jpg 

Caption: ORNL scientists Ryan Kerekes (left) and Ryan Tokola codeveloped a prototype of the sensor platform for vehicle fingerprinting. Credit: Jason Richards/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy. 

Computing—Filling the gaps 

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute, renowned for advances in nonmetallic catalysis, leveraged computational modeling support from Oak Ridge National Laboratory to overcome a major limiting factor in the breakdown of simple organic compounds called olefins. Olefins are among nature’s most abundant chemical compounds and are commonly obtained from crude oil. But current industrial processes to catalyze olefins into useful products are energy-intensive and costly. ORNL’s Dmytro Bykov ran a series of calculations on experimental data provided by Max Planck to fill in the gaps. “The team had theorized the most promising catalysis candidates, but they needed details on the reaction mechanisms that are difficult to determine in a lab setting,” Bykov said. The resulting three-dimensional models helped the team better predict the most plausible ways to catalyze olefins. Their discovery was published in the journal Science. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219; shoemakerms@ornl.gov

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/ORNL_catalysis_of_olefins_0.png 

Caption: Computational modeling helped researchers visualize possible reactions when olefins are exposed to various catalysts. Credit: Dmytro Bykov/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.  

Materials—Taking the heat 

A shield assembly that protects an instrument measuring ion and electron fluxes for a NASA mission to touch the Sun was tested in extreme experimental environments at Oak Ridge National Laboratory—and passed with flying colors. Components aboard Parker Solar Probe, which will endure the heat near the Sun, will get closer to the Sun than prior missions. The ORNL team exposed the shield assembly to a searing 3,227  F for up to 72 hours and simulated solar intensity of 65 watts per square centimeter using ORNL’s Radioisotope Power Systems Program and Plasma-Arc Lamp facilities, respectively. This exceeded the worst conditions that the mission is predicted to experience in the corona. Andrew Driesman, project manager of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which designed, built and will operate the spacecraft for NASA, said, “ORNL’s support was crucial in completing our testing on time by helping to solve difficult materials and technical challenges.” [Contact: Dawn Levy, (865) 576-6448; levyd@ornl.gov

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/NASA_Parker_Solar_Probe_rendering.jpg 

Caption: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, shown in this artist’s concept, is scheduled to launch on July 31 to contribute data that may improve the agency’s ability to forecast space weather, which can disrupt communications satellites and power grids, and may demystify why the Sun’s corona is hotter than its surface. Credit: Steve Gribben/NASA, Johns Hopkins APL. 

Neutrons—On the down-low 

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory-led team has observed how a prolific class of antibiotics may be losing its effectiveness as certain bacteria develop drug resistance by acquiring enzymes known as aminoglycoside modifying enzymes. Aminoglycosides are commonly used in antibiotics to treat tuberculosis, meningitis and listeriosis. Using X-rays and neutron diffraction, researchers found a known but previously undetected biological architecture called a catalytic triad within this enzyme group. The team identified a low-barrier hydrogen bond, involving a single hydrogen atom formed in this catalytic triad, which is crucial for the enzyme’s ability to disrupt the drugs’ molecular structure and render them ineffective to combat pathogenic bacteria. Detailed in Science Advances, this information provides new insights that could help improve future drug design. [Contact: Sara Shoemaker, (865) 576-9219; shoemakerms@ornl.gov

Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/ORNL_neutrons_low-barrierH.png 

Caption: The ORNL-led team identified a low-barrier hydrogen bond, involving a single hydrogen atom formed in this catalytic triad, which is crucial for the enzyme’s ability to disrupt the drugs’ molecular structure and render them ineffective to combat pathogenic bacteria. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

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How a Molecular Signal Helps Plant Cells Decide When to Make Oil

Scientists identify new details of how a sugar-signaling molecule helps regulate oil production in plant cells. The work could point to new ways to engineer plants to produce substantial amounts of oil for use as biofuels or in the production of other oil-based products.

Neutrons Produce First Direct 3D Maps of Water During Cell Membrane Fusion

New 3D maps of water distribution during cellular membrane fusion could lead to new treatments for diseases associated with cell fusion. Using neutron diffraction at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, scientists made the first direct observations of water in lipid bilayers modeling cell membrane fusion.

Chemists Demonstrate Sustainable Approach to Carbon Dioxide Capture From Air

Chemists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated a practical, energy-efficient method of capturing carbon dioxide directly from air. If deployed at large scale and coupled to geologic storage, the technique may bolster the portfolio of responses to global climate change.

Nucleation a boon to sustainable nanomanufacturing

Young-Shin Jun, professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and Quingun Li, a former doctoral student in her lab, are the first to measure the activation energy and kinetic factors of calcium carbonate's nucleation, both key to predicting and controlling the process.

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Argonne scientists and their collaborators have developed a new model that merges basic electrochemical theory with theories used in different contexts, such as the study of photoelectrochemistry and semiconductor physics, to describe phenomena that occur in any electrode.

A prize-winning measurement device could aid a wide range of industries

Companies dealing with liquids ranging from wastewater to molten metals could benefit from a prize-winning device developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University.

After 150 years, a Breakthrough in Understanding the Conversion of CO2 to Electrofuels

Using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, Columbia Engineers are first to observe how CO2 is activated at the electrode-electrolyte interface; their finding shifts the catalyst design from trial-and-error paradigm to a rational approach and could lead to alternative, cheaper, and safer renewable energy storage.

Water Plays Unexpected Role in Forming Minerals

Water molecules line up tiny particles to attach and form minerals; understanding how this happens impacts energy extraction and storage along with waste disposal.

X-Rays Uncover a Hidden Property That Leads to Failure in a Lithium-Ion Battery Material

X-ray experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have revealed that the pathways lithium ions take through a common battery material are more complex than previously thought.


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Berkeley Lab to Build an Advanced Quantum Computing Testbed

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will receive $30 million over five years from the U.S. Department of Energy to build and operate an Advanced Quantum Testbed (AQT) allowing researchers to explore superconducting quantum processors to advance scientific research

Cheng wins Midwest Energy News' 40 Under 40 Award

Lei Cheng, an assistant chemist in the Materials Science division at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, has received a Midwest Energy News 40 Under 40 Award.

JCESR renewed for another five years

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced its decision to renew the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), a DOE Energy Innovation Hub led by Argonne National Laboratory and focused on advancing battery science and technology.

Binghamton designated as NextFlex New York Node for flexible hybrid electronics initiative

NextFlex has designated Binghamton University to be the New York "Node" for its flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) initiative. As the NextFlex New York Node, Binghamton will design, develop and manufacture tools; process materials and products for flexible hybrid electronics; and attract, train and employ an advanced manufacturing workforce, building on the region's existing electronics manufacturing base.

First Particle Tracks Seen in Prototype for International Neutrino Experiment

The largest liquid-argon neutrino detector in the world has just recorded its first particle tracks, signaling the start of a new chapter in the story of the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). DUNE's scientific mission is dedicated to unlocking the mysteries of neutrinos, the most abundant (and most mysterious) matter particles in the universe.

Tais Gorkhover Wins LCLS Young Investigator Award for Pioneering Novel X-ray Imaging Methods

Tais Gorkhover, a principal investigator with the Stanford PULSE Institute, will receive the 2018 LCLS Young Investigator Award, granted to early-career scientists in recognition of exceptional research using the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray free-electron laser at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

ORNL, United Kingdom Lab Partner on Nuclear Energy Research

The United Kingdom's National Nuclear Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have agreed to cooperate on a wide range of nuclear energy research and development efforts that leverage both organizations' unique expertise and capabilities.

Nat Fisch receives Fusion Power Associates' Distinguished Career Award

Feature describes lifetime career award for PPPL physicist and professor Nat Fisch.

Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator Expands Focus to Include the Food-Water-Energy Interconnection

The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), a technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), is expanding its program to advance technologies that address the interconnection of food, water and energy.

Graham George receives Lytle Award for contributions to X-ray absorption spectroscopy

Graham Neil George, professor and Canada Research Chair in X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) at the University of Saskatchewan, has been chosen to receive the 2018 Farrel W. Lytle Award for his outstanding contributions to synchrotron science at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.


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Breaking the Symmetry Between Fundamental Forces

Scientists improve our understanding of the relationship between fundamental forces by re-creating the earliest moments of the universe.

Water Plays Unexpected Role in Forming Minerals

Water molecules line up tiny particles to attach and form minerals; understanding how this happens impacts energy extraction and storage along with waste disposal.

Heavy Particles Get Caught Up in the Flow

First direct measurement show how heavy particles containing a charm quark get caught up in the flow of early universe particle soup.

Seeing Between the Atoms

New detector enables electron microscope imaging at record-breaking resolution.

Scaling Up Single-Crystal Graphene

New method can make films of atomically thin carbon that are over a foot long.

Discovered: Optimal Magnetic Fields Suppress Instabilities in Tokamak Plasmas

U.S. and Korean scientists show how to find and use beneficial 3-D field perturbations to stabilize dangerous edge-localized modes in plasma.

New Electron Glasses Sharpen Our View of Atomic-Scale Features

A new approach to atom probe tomography promises more precise and accurate measurements vital to semiconductors used in computers, lasers, detectors, and more.

Getting an Up-Close, 3-D View of Gold Nanostars

Scientists can now measure 3-D structures of tiny particles with properties that hold promise for advanced sensors and diagnostics.

Small, Short-Lived Drops of Early Universe Matter

Particle flow patterns suggest even small-scale collisions create drops of early universe quark-gluon plasma.

Tuning Terahertz Beams with Nanoparticles

Scientists uncover a way to control terahertz radiation using tiny engineered particles in a magnetic field, potentially opening the doors for better medical and environmental sensors.


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