DOE News
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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.
    • 2019-07-24 08:05:44
    • Article ID: 716281

    Eyes on VENUS: ORNL to deliver unique US neutron imaging capability for science discovery

    • Credit: ORNL/Jill Hemman

      Artistic rendering of the VENUS imaging beamline under construction at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source. VENUS will provide impactful insights into research areas such as those featured, including nuclear fuels such as uranium (left), additively manufactured materials, biological processes, engineered components, studies of archeological and natural materials.

    • Credit: ORNL/Jill Hemman

      Actual data images illustrate distinctions between heavy elements used in nuclear fuels (left), varying crystalline orientations in additively manufactured materials (D-O-E), hydrogen transport in plant and biological systems, identifying internal defects in engineered materials, and nondestructive analysis of historical artifacts.

    The ability to directly see the atomic fabric of materials provides pivotal information in accelerating the design and improving the performance of future technologies. Visualizing in real space the behaviors and dynamics of materials requires powerful probes and advanced instrumentation.

    Construction has begun on VENUS, a state-of-the-art neutron imaging instrument, at the Spallation Neutron Source at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This new instrument will provide a platform for studying in real time the makeup and performance of a wide range of functional materials under varying environments.

    VENUS will benefit diverse research areas including the development of energy-related materials (e.g., batteries, nuclear fuels, biofuels); advanced engineering materials (e.g., additively manufactured alloys, aluminum and steel, carbon fibers, concrete, glass); and studies of archeological and natural materials, providing insights into geological processes, biology and plant physiology.

    Coupled with SNS, the world’s most powerful pulsed accelerator-based neutron source, VENUS will be the only open research facility platform in the US to provide time-of-flight neutron imaging capabilities to users from academia and industry.

    Neutrons play an important role in our understanding of the material world. Scientists use them to study the structure of matter—from the benchtop to the atomic scale—because neutrons are deeply penetrating, carry no charge, and are nondestructive, making them suitable for studying, for example, biological structures, metal stresses and defects, and magnetic behavior in quantum materials.

    In general, as neutrons scatter, or “bounce” off atoms in a material, they reveal information about an atom’s location and behavior. Neutron imaging, on the other hand, measures in transmission–as neutrons pass through a material—to produce a neutron radiograph, much like a clinical x-ray.

    “Neutron imaging is about contrast—seeing something behind something else or seeing the difference between one side of your sample and the other,” said ORNL instrument scientist Hassina Bilheux, a lead developer in the VENUS project. “For example, if you want to see lithium as it’s moving through the battery, you need contrast to isolate the signal coming from lithium ions.”

    Building the VENUS beamline at SNS will leverage the facility’s accelerator-based neutron source and provide advanced imaging techniques that complement those currently available at the lab’s steady-state neutron source, the High Flux Isotope Reactor. The SNS pulsed-source accelerator enables the time-of-flight technique, which uses time-stamped neutrons that can be adjusted and preselected across a range of energies. The technique provides the tunable contrast necessary for revealing structural information with low-energy neutrons using an approach called Bragg-edge imaging. It also pinpoints specific elements within a sample using high-energy neutrons with resonance imaging to better understand the material’s functional properties and behaviors.

    “For example, to distinguish between certain heavy elements such as europium, tantalum, gadolinium, and uranium, one needs higher-energy neutrons, which SNS provides,” said Bilheux. “Measuring with VENUS will provide us with three-dimensional maps showing us where a heavy element is located within a sample, and we’ll be able to switch between different heavy elements. That capability will be incredibly beneficial in optimizing the efficiency of novel nuclear materials, which is a high priority for DOE.”

    VENUS is on track to be completed in 2022 and expected to be ready for scientific users by 2023. The beamline will ensure the United States remains competitive with international spallation sources that are already building or currently operate advanced imaging instruments.

    To meet the 2023 timeline, the developers are using a portion of the beam time on the SNAP diffractometer to develop imaging software and train the user community ahead of VENUS’s launch. Design of the instrument and its major components is also in progress.

    “VENUS will enable us to not only gather information about a material’s structure but also how the structure is changing during applied load such as heat or pressure,” said Bilheux. “We’ll be able to do more experiments and get faster results, all without having to use multiple imaging instruments.”

    SNS is a DOE Office of Science User Facility. UT-Battelle LLC manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.—by Jeremy Rumsey 

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    Of Leaves and Light

    Of Leaves and Light

    Imagine getting an entire health workup just by having your picture taken--no invasive poking or prodding, not even a pinprick blood test. That's a goal ecologists have for monitoring the health of plants. Their cameras would be high-resolution sensors mounted on drones or satellites, capable of capturing much more than what's visible to the naked eye.

    New Technique Could Streamline Design of Intricate Fusion Device

    New Technique Could Streamline Design of Intricate Fusion Device

    Stellarators, twisty machines that house fusion reactions, rely on complex magnetic coils that are challenging to design and build. Now, a PPPL physicist has developed a mathematical technique to help simplify the design of the coils.

    Measuring the Charge of Electrons in a High-Temp Superconductor

    Measuring the Charge of Electrons in a High-Temp Superconductor

    The measurements could inform the search for new materials that perfectly conduct electricity at relatively higher temperatures.

    A new way to generate solar steam for cleaning water and reducing waste

    A new way to generate solar steam for cleaning water and reducing waste

    At the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, researchers are exploring affordable materials that could absorb the sunlight necessary to evaporate water and recapture it, leaving contaminants behind.

    Amazon Rainforest Absorbing Less Carbon Than Expected

    Amazon Rainforest Absorbing Less Carbon Than Expected

    An international team of scientists, including climate scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found that accounting for phosphorus-deficient soils reduced projected carbon dioxide uptake by an average of 50% in the Amazon, compared to current estimates based on previous climate models that did not take into account phosphorus deficiency.

    Fermilab's newest accelerator delivers first results

    Fermilab's newest accelerator delivers first results

    IOTA is designed to develop technologies to increase the number of particles in a beam without increasing the beam's size and thus the size and cost of the accelerator. IOTA researchers are investigating a novel technique called nonlinear integrable optics. The technique was a winner: Scientists observed that these specialized magnets significantly decreased the instability.

    Brookhaven Completes LSST's Digital Sensor Array

    Brookhaven Completes LSST's Digital Sensor Array

    After 16 years of dedicated planning and engineering, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have completed a 3.2 gigapixel sensor array for the camera that will be used in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a massive telescope that will observe the universe like never before.

    Scientists Report Two Advances in Understanding the Role of 'Charge Stripes' in Superconducting Materials

    Scientists Report Two Advances in Understanding the Role of 'Charge Stripes' in Superconducting Materials

    In independent studies, two research teams report important advances in understanding how charge stripes might interact with superconductivity. Both studies were carried out with X-rays at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    For Superconductors, Discovery Comes From Disorder

    For Superconductors, Discovery Comes From Disorder

    In a new study, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have explained the ways in which two electronic arrangements compete with each other and ultimately affect the temperature at which a material becomes superconducting.

    Cool Roofs Can Help Shield California's Cities Against Heat Waves

    Cool Roofs Can Help Shield California's Cities Against Heat Waves

    A new study by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that if every building in California sported "cool" roofs by 2050, these roofs would help contribute to protecting urbanites from the consequences of dangerous heatwaves.


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    DOE Issues Small Business Research and Development Funding Opportunity Announcement

    The Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs issued its first Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Fiscal Year 2020.

    Bioenergy startup licenses ORNL food-waste-to-fuel system

    Bioenergy startup licenses ORNL food-waste-to-fuel system

    Electro-Active Technologies, Inc., of Knoxville, Tenn., has exclusively licensed two biorefinery technologies invented and patented by the startup's co-founders while working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The technologies work as a system that converts organic waste into renewable hydrogen gas for use as a biofuel.

    DOE to Provide $27.6 Million for Data Science Research in Chemical and Materials Sciences

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $27.6 million in funding over the next three years for targeted research in data science to accelerate discovery in chemistry and material sciences.

    Explore the Site of a New Telescope Survey That Will Map the Universe in 3-D

    Explore the Site of a New Telescope Survey That Will Map the Universe in 3-D

    For a special sneak preview before the official start of observations in early 2020, join scientists, engineers, and others who are working on the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) for an exclusive day of access. DESI, under installation at Kitt Peak National Observatory, will capture the light from tens of millions of distant galaxies to better understand the accelerating expansion of the universe.

    A Community-Driven Data Science System to Advance Microbiome Research

    A Community-Driven Data Science System to Advance Microbiome Research

    The National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC), a new initiative aimed at empowering microbiome research, is gearing up its pilot phase after receiving $10 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.

    Brookhaven Lab and University of Delaware Begin Joint Initiative

    Brookhaven Lab and University of Delaware Begin Joint Initiative

    The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Delaware (UD) have begun a two-year joint initiative to promote collaborative research in new areas of complementary strength and strategic importance.

    IDEMIA Identity & Security USA licenses ORNL advanced optical array

    IDEMIA Identity & Security USA licenses ORNL advanced optical array

    IDEMIA Identity & Security USA has licensed an advanced optical array developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The portable technology can be used to help identify individuals in challenging outdoor conditions.

    Jefferson Lab Welcomes New Director of Accelerator Operations

    Jefferson Lab Welcomes New Director of Accelerator Operations

    After an extensive search, Camille Ginsburg has been selected as the director of accelerator operations at DOE's Jefferson Lab.

    EIC Center at Jefferson Lab Announces Fellowship Awards

    EIC Center at Jefferson Lab Announces Fellowship Awards

    One graduate student and three postdoctoral research scientists are awarded fellowships to advance the science of an electron-ion collider.


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    Chaos Ensues When Lasers and Plasma Meet

    Chaos Ensues When Lasers and Plasma Meet

    Warp+PXR dramatically improves the accuracy of the simulations compared to those typically used in plasma research. Now, researchers can simulate lasers' interactions with plasma with much higher precision.

    This Superconductor Does Not Take Light Lightly

    This Superconductor Does Not Take Light Lightly

    Superconductors are materials that show no resistance to electrical current when cooled. Recently, scientists discovered a new superconducting material. Now, scientists have found that when exposed to low-energy ultraviolet light, the material acts as a superconductor at higher temperatures.

    Nuclear Physics Detector Tech Used in Cancer Treatment Monitoring System

    Nuclear Physics Detector Tech Used in Cancer Treatment Monitoring System

    The OARtrac(r) system includes technologies that are based on a novel application of scintillating material in fiber form. Doctors can insert these scintillating fibers into the human body via a catheter to monitor the radiation that cancer patients receive in a range of hard-to-reach areas.

    Machine Learning Helps Create Detailed, Efficient Models of Water

    Machine Learning Helps Create Detailed, Efficient Models of Water

    A team devised a way to better model water's properties. They developed a machine-learning workflow that offers accurate and computationally efficient models.

    Cultivating the Assembly Landscape

    Cultivating the Assembly Landscape

    For the first time, a team determined and predictably manipulated the energy landscape of a material assembled from proteins. Designing materials that easily and reliably morph on command could benefit water filtration, sensing applications, and adaptive devices.

    A Change in Structure for a Superheavy Magnesium Isotope

    A Change in Structure for a Superheavy Magnesium Isotope

    A recent measurement exploring the structure of magnesium-40 has shown a surprising change in the structure relative to expectations. This unanticipated change could be pointing to physics missing from our theories, such as the effects of weak binding between particles.

    Bursts of Light Shape Walls Between Waves of Charge

    Bursts of Light Shape Walls Between Waves of Charge

    To better store data, scientists need ways to change a material's properties suddenly. For example, they want a material that can go from insulator to conductor and back again. Now, they devised a surprisingly simple way of flipping a material from one state into another, and back again, with flashes of light. A single light pulse turns thin sheets of tantalum disulfide from its original (alpha) state into a mixture of alpha and beta states. Domain walls separate the two states. A second pulse of light dissolves the walls, and the material returns to its original state.

    New Geometric Model Improves Predictions of Fluid Flow in Rock

    New Geometric Model Improves Predictions of Fluid Flow in Rock

    Supercomputer validates mathematical approach for describing geological features.

    Deep Learning Reveals Mysteries of Deep Space

    Deep Learning Reveals Mysteries of Deep Space

    How do you determine the measurable "things" that describe the nature of our universe? To answer that question, researchers used CosmoFlow, a deep learning technique, running on a National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center supercomputer. They analyzed large, complex data sets from 3-D simulations of the distribution of matter to answer that question. The team showed that CosmoFlow offers a new platform to gain a deeper understanding of the universe.

    At DOE's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, science drives next-gen creations

    At DOE's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, science drives next-gen creations

    American ingenuity is providing radical productivity improvements from advanced materials and robotic systems developed at the Department of Energy's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


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