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.
    • 2020-03-17 17:50:21
    • Article ID: 728340

    The Department of Energy Tackling the Challenge of Coronavirus

    • Credit: CDC

      DOE is collaborating with the scientific community to tackle the COVID-19 public health emergency.

    Thousands of processors stacked over six feet high are networked together into the fastest computer in the world. Powerful X-rays produced by accelerating electrons to near the speed of light. Computer software that can model the complex spread of diseases. These are just some of the tools that we here at the Department of Energy (DOE) are using to tackle the COVID-19 disease outbreak, widely referred to as the coronavirus.

    To harness our scientific capabilities, the DOE has recently launched a task force that will coordinate the resources to study coronavirus and other public health issues that are available at the 17 DOE national laboratories.

    DOE has a vital role to play in the national response to COVID-19. Researchers have already used tools at our national laboratories to make major inroads to analyzing the virus and its spread.

    Scientists have used Summit – the most powerful supercomputer in the world and part of a DOE Office of Science user facility – to examine more than 700,000 viral genomes. They have also simulated more than 8,000 different compounds. As a result, they have identified 77 drug compounds with the potential to keep the virus from infecting a person. While a normal computer would have taken months to do this analysis, it only took Summit a few days.

    With the X-rays at the Advanced Photon Source, another DOE Office of Science user facility, scientists have created a 3D map of a protein of the virus that medicines may be able to target. Researchers revealed this protein is essential to the virus being able to replicate in a host. It’s also extremely similar to a protein from the earlier SARS-CoV outbreak. As a result, scientists think that drugs that companies have been developing to treat SARS may also be useful for inhibiting the virus behind COVID-19. Currently, these scientists are mapping the structure of several other proteins in the COVID-19 virus to see if drugs could target them.

    Predicting how the virus will spread can help public health officials identify where to target their efforts. The DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory are using computer models to map the potential spread of the disease. By using supercomputers to simulate virtual people, they can forecast the spread more accurately than previous models. Last year, Los Alamos actually won the FluSight Challenge competition run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by creating models with the most accurate description of how the common influenza spreads.

    Other resources at the DOE’s national laboratories include genomic analysis, models of viral evolution, and powerful microscopes.

    While the DOE itself does not fund medical or clinical work, our facilities complement the efforts of the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and other federal partners in understanding the basic phenomena underlying the outbreak. We want to ensure the scientists confronting this disease have comprehensive access to both our tools and our subject matter expertise. We encourage scientists to submit their ideas for using DOE tools to research COVID-19. Together, we will tackle this public health emergency.

     

    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.

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    Capturing 3D microstructures in real time

    Capturing 3D microstructures in real time

    Argonne researchers have invented a machine-learning based algorithm for quantitatively characterizing material microstructure in three dimensions and in real time. This algorithm applies to most structural materials of interest to industry.

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    Argonne's Paul Dickman honored with nuclear waste management achievement award

    Argonne's Paul Dickman honored with nuclear waste management achievement award

    Paul Dickman has been named a Waste Management Symposium Fellow for 2020.

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    Brookhaven Lab's Lijun Wu Receives 2020 Chuck Fiori Award

    Brookhaven Lab's Lijun Wu Receives 2020 Chuck Fiori Award

    For the past 20 years, Wu has been advancing quantitative electron diffraction to study batteries, catalysts, and other energy materials.

    Jefferson Lab Temporarily Suspends Operations

    Jefferson Lab Temporarily Suspends Operations

    In an effort to minimize the risk to the Jefferson Lab workforce and in keeping with recommendations from national, state, and local authorities, the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility is temporarily suspending operations.

    Department of Energy to Provide $60 Million for Science Computing Teams

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    Fermilab, UNICAMP and Sao Paulo Research Foundation collaborate on major international projects for neutrino research

    Fermilab, UNICAMP and Sao Paulo Research Foundation collaborate on major international projects for neutrino research

    Under a new agreement, the University of Campinas and the Sao Paulo Research Foundation will play important roles in the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, hosted by Fermilab.

    New $21.4 million U.S.-Israel center aims to develop water-energy technologies

    New $21.4 million U.S.-Israel center aims to develop water-energy technologies

    A U.S.-Israel team that includes researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory has received $21.4 million to develop new technologies to help solve global water challenges.

    Argonne's Valerii Vinokur awarded Fritz London Prize

    Argonne's Valerii Vinokur awarded Fritz London Prize

    Valerii Vinokur, a senior scientist and distinguished fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, has been awarded the Fritz London Memorial Prize for his work in condensed matter and theoretical physics.

    Register to Join a Special April 16 Media Tour of a Telescope Instrument that Will Create a 3D Map of Millions of Galaxies

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    Members of the media are invited to attend a mid-April dedication of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), which is scheduled to begin its five-year mission to construct a 3D map of the universe in the coming months.

    Department of Energy to Provide $100 Million for Solar Fuels Research

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide up to $100 million over five years for research on artificial photosynthesis for the production of fuels from sunlight.


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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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