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    • 2019-10-23 16:45:33
    • Article ID: 721309

    The way is clear: CORNING taps neutrons for developing new glass compositions

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

      Corning Incorporated senior research scientist Ying Shi (left) uses neutron scattering to understand the structure–property correlation in glass to make new compositions. Her son, Albert Song (right), wrote data analysis code for her project and joined her on a recent visit to the Spallation Neutron Source.

    Scientists above all else are problem solvers.

    Senior research scientist Ying Shi with Corning Incorporated is no exception. Her research focuses on understanding the structure–property correlation of glass to develop new compositions tailored for a range of applications. She frequently uses neutron scattering at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to gain insights into myriad glass samples at the atomic scale.

    Understanding how the atomic structure of various types of glass correlates with their properties is important to many consumer electronics. For example, the cover glass used in personal electronics such as cell phones needs to be tough enough to resist cracking, while the glass panel on a flat screen TV needs to exhibit minimal dimensional changes to ensure high resolution as it undergoes heat treatments during the manufacturing process.

    “It is an extremely tough and important problem to truly understand the atomic structure of silicate glasses and how their structures correlate with their properties,” Shi said. “We rely on large data sets to decipher the structure–property correlation.” That’s why every time Ying comes to ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source to use the NOMAD instrument, she measures nearly 100 glass samples that have systematically varied compositions and different treatments.

    Glass structure is different from crystalline materials. While the atoms in crystalline materials are arranged in an ordered way according to symmetry and periodicity—giving them what materials scientists call long-range order—glass has only short- and medium-range order.

    “Medium-range order, the key structural parameter to determine glass properties, can be revealed by the first sharp diffraction peak of neutron total scattering,” Shi said.

    Shi’s current experiments on the NOMAD instrument at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) allow her to correlate medium-range-order structural data collected on her specimens with numerous properties including hardness and coefficient of thermal expansion.

    What’s extra special about these experiments, she says, is that they incorporate code written by her teenage son. Shi’s son, Albert, who was an intern at Corning this past summer, was just 14 years old when he initially wrote the code for his mom’s data analysis.

    Now 16, Albert says he had already been learning to code in C# with his dad when his mom found she was unable to hire a professional coder to treat her hundreds of data files because her project, in the exploratory phase, hadn’t budgeted for one.

    “It might have taken a year for her to apply for the funding for professional coding, and she wanted to speed up the process and I wanted to help,” Albert explained. “The code basically processes the raw neutron beamline data and performs various mathematical treatments on the first sharp diffraction peak, which allows us to derive medium-range structural information within the glass.”

    Shi adds that, before Albert developed the code, she had to treat each data file from her experiments with two commercially available software packages, but they couldn’t communicate with each other.

    “I used to do some treatment myself and then manually output the data and then manually input it into the second software,” she said.

    Each data file took a half-hour to analyze using this method, and she knew it wouldn’t be sustainable for hundreds of data files and impossible if she wanted to optimize the fitting parameters.

    Shi says Albert’s code allows her to process 20 data files in less than 30 seconds, instead of taking a half-hour for 1 file, and she can tweak parameters more easily and get better results.

    ORNL has agreed to host Albert’s code on its GitHub, an open-source software development platform, and RingFSDP, a novel method Shi developed from her son’s code, is now available to benefit the glass research community. She recently published a paper on RingFSDP.

    “Hosting it on our repository here at ORNL makes it accessible to everyone. Hosting also makes sense because NOMAD team members were involved in the code’s development and are on the publication, and we host a lot of code developed either solely at ORNL or in collaboration with outside entities,” said neutron diffraction group leader Matthew Tucker.

    Albert has continued to improve his original code, and he wrote two additional codes during his Corning internship that he plans to share with ORNL.

    SNS is a DOE Office of Science User Facility. UT-Battelle LLC manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science. The 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, please visit https://energy.gov/science.—by Laurie Varma

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    Argonne's debt to 2019 Nobel Prize for lithium-ion battery

    Argonne's debt to 2019 Nobel Prize for lithium-ion battery

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    Simulations show that halo currents can serve as a proxy for the total force produced by vertical disruptions.


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    University of Kentucky Grant Seeks to Turn Coal Into Carbon Fiber

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    Dmitri Zakharov Recognized with the 2019 Chuck Fiori Award

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    With this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded for the development of lithium-ion batteries, directors of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research share perspectives on the future of energy storage.

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    University of Maryland, Baltimore County wins DOE's 2019 CyberForce Competition(tm)

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    In its 15th year, INCITE advances open science with supercomputer grants to 47 projects

    In its 15th year, INCITE advances open science with supercomputer grants to 47 projects

    The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science announced allocations of supercomputer access to 47 science projects for 2020--awarding 60 percent of the available time on some of the nation's most powerful supercomputers, with the ultimate goal of accelerating discovery and innovation. In 2020, 14 projects will run on Theta and 39 projects on Summit, where six of these projects will receive an allocation on both systems.

    ASU solar awards eclipse other universities in latest round of DOE funding

    ASU solar awards eclipse other universities in latest round of DOE funding

    ASU receives $9.8 million in Solar Energy Technologies Office Awards.

    DOE to Provide $10 Million for New Research into Ecosystem Processes

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    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Scientists designed and connected two different artificial cells to each other to produce molecules called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

    Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials

    Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials

    Bone and mollusk shells are composite systems that combine living cells and inorganic components. This allows them to regenerate and change structure while also being very strong and durable. Borrowing from this amazing complexity, researchers have been exploring a new class of materials called engineered living materials (ELMs).

    Excavating Quantum Information Buried in Noise

    Excavating Quantum Information Buried in Noise

    Researchers developed two new methods to assess and remove error in how scientists measure quantum systems. By reducing quantum "noise" - uncertainty inherent to quantum processes - these new methods improve accuracy and precision.

    How Electrons Move in a Catastrophe

    How Electrons Move in a Catastrophe

    Lanthanum strontium manganite (LSMO) is a widely applicable material, from magnetic tunnel junctions to solid oxide fuel cells. However, when it gets thin, its behavior changes for the worse. The reason why was not known. Now, using two theoretical methods, a team determined what happens.

    When Ions and Molecules Cluster

    When Ions and Molecules Cluster

    How an ion behaves when isolated within an analytical instrument can differ from how it behaves in the environment. Now, Xue-Bin Wang at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory devised a way to bring ions and molecules together in clusters to better discover their properties and predict their behavior.

    Tune in to Tetrahedral Superstructures

    Tune in to Tetrahedral Superstructures

    Shape affects how the particles fit together and, in turn, the resulting material. For the first time, a team observed the self-assembly of nanoparticles with tetrahedral shapes.

    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    This study is the first to confirm dust particles pre-dating the formation of our solar system. Further study of these materials will enable a deeper understanding of the processes that formed and have since altered them.

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Future fusion reactors will require materials that can withstand extreme operating conditions, including being bombarded by high-energy neutrons at high temperatures. Scientists recently irradiated titanium diboride (TiB2) in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) to better understand the effects of fusion neutrons on performance.

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    In breast cancer screening, an imaging technique based on nuclear medicine is currently being used as a successful secondary screening tool alongside mammography to improve the accuracy of the diagnosis. Now, a team is hoping to improve this imaging technique.

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Scientists can use genetic information to measure if microbes in the environment can perform specific ecological roles. Researchers recently analyzed the genomes of over 6,000 microbial species.


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