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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.
    • 2020-06-02 10:15:26
    • Article ID: 732515

    Story Tips: Shuffling atoms, thinning forests, fusion assembly and nuclear medicine

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

      Using the single-crystal diffractometer TOPAZ, Oak Ridge National Laboratory confirmed the exact position of deuterium atoms from selective deuteration of benzene molecules.

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

      Pine trees in the Tuolumne Valley of Yosemite National Park show the effects of drought and fire.

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

      Fraser firs are affected by the balsam woolly adelgid atop Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    • Credit: ITER Organization

      The 1250 ton cyrostat base is positioned over the ITER tokamak pit for installation. This base is the heaviest lift of tokamak assembly.

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

      Ra-226 pellets are loaded in a target for irradiation in ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor.

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

      Solid radium sulfate sits in the bottom of a flask during the recovery process.

    Neutrons – Deuterium shuffle 

    Scientists have found a new method to strategically add deuterium to benzene, an aromatic compound commonly found in crude oil. When applied to the active ingredient of drugs to incorporate deuterium, it could dramatically improve the drugs’ efficacy and safety and even introduce new medicines. 

    To validate the method, which was published in Nature, a team led by W. Dean Harman of the University of Virginia worked with Xiaoping Wang at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source. Wang successfully verified the exact position of deuterium atoms that resulted from the selective deuteration of benzene molecules using single crystal neutron diffraction. 

    “Because the high sensitivity of neutrons to hydrogen and its deuterium isotope, we were able to quantitatively assign not only the positions of the deuterium atoms at the atomic level, but also determine precisely how many were added on each side of the benzene molecule,” Wang said. “This is important in designing new therapeutic drugs.” 

    Media Contact: Sara Shoemaker, 865.576.9219, shoemakerms@ornl.gov 

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/20-G00484_Wang_ST.png 

    Caption: Using the single-crystal diffractometer TOPAZ, Oak Ridge National Laboratory confirmed the exact position of deuterium atoms from selective deuteration of benzene molecules. Credit: Jill Hemman/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

     

    Ecology – Thinning forests 

    A multi-institutional research team found that changing environmental conditions are affecting forests around the globe, leading to increasing tree death and uncertainty about the ability of forests to recover. 

    Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, temperature, drought and extreme events such as wildfires are causing more frequent tree mortality and triggering intense competition among saplings for resources. This competition contributes to forest thinning, which limits the amount of carbon captured and held in tree trunks, branches and roots. 

    “There’s a lot of nuance just in the carbon dioxide response,” said Anthony Walker of Oak Ridge National Laboratory who contributed carbon dioxide analyses for the study published in Science. “We are examining the many tradeoffs and feedbacks. For instance, elevated carbon dioxide can spur tree growth while also increasing the risk of mortality associated with faster growth rates.” 

    The study concluded that pervasive shifts in forest vegetation are likely to accelerate in the future.  

    Media contact: Kim Askey, 865.576.2841, askeyka@ornl.gov 

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/fire%20regrowth.jpg 

    Caption: Pine trees in the Tuolumne Valley of Yosemite National Park show the effects of drought and fire. Credit: Anthony Walker/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/p1060209.jpg 

    Caption: Fraser firs are affected by the balsam woolly adelgid atop Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Credit: Anthony Walker/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy 

    Fusion – ITER assembly begins 

    ITER, the world’s largest international scientific collaboration, is beginning assembly of the fusion reactor tokamak that will include 12 different essential hardware systems provided by US ITER, which is managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 

    The systems include superconductors for the toroidal field magnet system and ORNL-developed pellet injection technology for plasma fueling and performance. These critical components will help ITER achieve its mission to demonstrate a self-heated, burning plasma and 500 megawatts of fusion power. 

    The 60-foot-tall central solenoid magnet, also fabricated under ORNL management, is considered the “heart of ITER” because it will initiate and drive plasma current inside the tokamak. 

    “The start of ITER tokamak assembly is a momentous milestone for the project and makes the fusion community — at Oak Ridge and around the world — excited for the future,” Kathy McCarthy, US ITER project director, said. 

    The first shipment of central solenoid modules to ITER, located in southern France, will begin later this year. 

    Media contacts: Lynne Degitz, 865.466.6383, degitzlk@ornl.gov and Laban Coblentz, +33 6 14 16 40 85, laban.coblentz@iter.org 

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Photo%203.%20Base%20over%20pit_0.jpg 

    Caption: The 1250 ton cyrostat base is positioned over the ITER tokamak pit for installation. This base is the heaviest lift of tokamak assembly. Credit: ITER Organization 

    Isotopes – Improved process for medicine 

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have discovered a better way to separate actinium-227, a rare isotope essential for an FDA-approved cancer treatment. 

    To produce Ac-227, researchers recover radium-226 from obsolete medical devices and fabricate it into targets that are irradiated in the High Flux Isotope Reactor. Ac-227 is then separated from the targets and purified. 

    Initially, researchers used caustic solution to dissolve targets, but recently they developed an approach using an acidic solution. 

    “From that one simple step, we increased actinium yield, minimized waste production, optimized our processing timeframe and made it easier to recycle radium,” said ORNL’s Roy Copping. “This is an important project for the lab, and it’s of enormous benefit to mankind.” 

    ORNL began producing Ac-227 in 2017 and has a 10-year contract with U.S. DOE’s Isotope Program and Bayer. Radium-223 dichloride, derived from Ac-227, is the primary ingredient in Bayer’s Xofigo prostate cancer drug. 

    Media contact: Kristi Nelson Bumpus, 865-253-1381, bumpuskl@ornl.gov 

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Ac227%201.jpg 

    Caption: Ra-226 pellets are loaded in a target for irradiation in ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    Image: https://www.ornl.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Ac227%202_0.jpg 

    Caption: Solid radium sulfate sits in the bottom of a flask during the recovery process. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

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    Fat-Based Molecules are Key to Zika Virus Infection

    Fat-Based Molecules are Key to Zika Virus Infection

    Researchers from PNNL have helped colleagues at OHSU identify lipid molecules required for Zika infection in human cells. The specific lipids involved could also be a clue to why the virus primarily infects brain tissue.

    Another Win for the Standard Model: New Study Defies Decades-Old 'Discrepancy' With High-Precision Measurement

    Another Win for the Standard Model: New Study Defies Decades-Old 'Discrepancy' With High-Precision Measurement

    A new study dives into a decades-old discrepancy from a Standard Model of particle physics pillar known as "lepton flavor universality," and provides strong evidence to resolve it.

    Influx of Electric Vehicles Accelerates Need for Grid Planning

    Influx of Electric Vehicles Accelerates Need for Grid Planning

    A new PNNL report says the western U.S. bulk power system can reliably support projected growth of up to 24 million electric vehicles through 2028, but challenges will arise as EV adoption grows beyond that threshold. This study is the most comprehensive of its kind, integrating multiple variables not evaluated before, such as growth in commercial delivery fleets and long-haul trucks, as well as large-scale and long-term EV charging scenarios and strategies.

    First results of an upgraded experiment highlight the value of lithium for the creation of fusion energy

    First results of an upgraded experiment highlight the value of lithium for the creation of fusion energy

    Initial results of the Lithium Tokamak Experiment-Beta (LTX-β) at PPPL show that the enhancements significantly improve performance of the plasma that will fuel future fusion reactors.

    Hybrid inverter integrates distributed energy resources, supports smart grid function

    Hybrid inverter integrates distributed energy resources, supports smart grid function

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have developed an intelligent power electronic inverter platform that can connect locally sited energy resources such as solar panels, energy storage and electric vehicles and smoothly interact with the utility power grid.

    Ready to Join the Fight Against COVID-19

    Ready to Join the Fight Against COVID-19

    UPTON, NY--On July 29, 2020 the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory opened a new cryo-electron microscopy center, the Laboratory for BioMolecular Structure (LBMS), with an initial focus on COVID-19-related research. This state-of-the-art research center for life sciences imaging offers researchers access to advanced cryo-electron microscopes (cryo-EM)--funded by NY State--for studying complex proteins, as well as the architecture of cells and tissues.

    ORNL-produced plutonium-238 to help power Perseverance on Mars

    ORNL-produced plutonium-238 to help power Perseverance on Mars

    Mars 2020 will be the first NASA mission that uses ORNL-produced plutonium-238, the first U.S.-produced Pu-238 in three decades. ORNL's Pu-238 will help power Perseverance across the Red Planet's surface.

    Solving materials problems with a quantum computer

    Solving materials problems with a quantum computer

    Scientists at Argonne and the University of Chicago have developed a method paving the way to using quantum computers to simulate realistic molecules and complex materials. They tested the method on a quantum simulator and IBM quantum computer.

    How clean water technologies could get a boost from X-ray synchrotrons

    How clean water technologies could get a boost from X-ray synchrotrons

    In a new perspective, SLAC and University of Paderborn scientists argue that research at synchrotrons could help improve water-purifying materials in ways that might not otherwise be possible.

    Computational gene study suggests new pathway for COVID-19 inflammatory response

    Computational gene study suggests new pathway for COVID-19 inflammatory response

    A team led by Dan Jacobson of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory used the Summit supercomputer at ORNL to analyze genes from cells in the lung fluid of nine COVID-19 patients compared with 40 control patients.


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    Magnum Venus Products licenses ORNL co-developed additive manufacturing technologies

    Magnum Venus Products licenses ORNL co-developed additive manufacturing technologies

    The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has licensed two additive manufacturing-related technologies that aim to streamline and ramp up production processes to Knoxville-based Magnum Venus Products, Inc., a global manufacturer of fluid movement and product solutions for industrial applications in composites and adhesives.

    Berkeley Lab Part of Multi-Institutional Team Awarded $60M for Solar Fuels Research

    Berkeley Lab Part of Multi-Institutional Team Awarded $60M for Solar Fuels Research

    The Department of Energy has awarded $60 million to a new solar fuels initiative - called the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA) - led by Caltech in close partnership with Berkeley Lab. LiSA will build on the foundational work of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP).

    Will Fox wins 2020 John Dawson Award for producing new insights into astrophysical shockwaves

    Will Fox wins 2020 John Dawson Award for producing new insights into astrophysical shockwaves

    Profile of PPPL winner of APS Dawson Award for outstanding achievement in plasma physics research.

    Jefferson Lab ES&H Deputy Director Receives Health Physics Society Honor

    Jefferson Lab ES&H Deputy Director Receives Health Physics Society Honor

    Bob May's career-long aspiration has been to keep people from all walks of life and in different work environments safe from radiation in the workplace. Now, the deputy director of Environment, Safety and Health at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has been honored for his dedication to the field by being named a fellow of the Health Physics Society.

    Robert Ainsworth awarded $2.5 million to improve particle beams for high-intensity experiments

    Robert Ainsworth awarded $2.5 million to improve particle beams for high-intensity experiments

    Fermilab scientist Robert Ainsworth has won a $2.5 million Department of Energy Early Career Research Award to study different ways of ensuring stability in high-intensity proton beams. By studying how certain types of beam instabilities emerge and evolve under different conditions, his team can help sharpen scientists' methods for correcting them or avoiding them to begin with.

    PNNL's Vapor Detection Technology Named GeekWire's 'Innovation of the Year'

    PNNL's Vapor Detection Technology Named GeekWire's 'Innovation of the Year'

    A PNNL-developed technology that can quickly detect explosive vapors, deadly chemicals and illicit drugs with unparalleled accuracy has been named the 2020 Innovation of the Year by GeekWire, the Seattle-based technology news company.

    Accomplished early career physicist is first recipient of fellowship that honors pioneering PPPL physicist Robert Ellis Jr.

    Accomplished early career physicist is first recipient of fellowship that honors pioneering PPPL physicist Robert Ellis Jr.

    An early career physicist with a strong background in plasma physics has been named to a new postdoctoral fellowship named for Robert Ellis Jr., a pioneering physicist at PPPL, that is aimed at diversifying the plasma physics field.

    U.S. Department of Energy to announce "Launch to the Future: Quantum Internet" at UChicago

    U.S. Department of Energy to announce "Launch to the Future: Quantum Internet" at UChicago

    On Thursday, July 23, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy Dan Brouillette will join government, academic, and science leaders at the University of Chicago to unveil a report outlining a blueprint for the construction of a national quantum internet, bringing the U.S. to the forefront of the global quantum race and ushering in a new era of communications.

    Department of Energy Names Three Office of Science Distinguished Scientists Fellows

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) named three National Laboratory scientists as DOE Office of Science Distinguished Scientists Fellows

    U.S. Department of Energy unveils blueprint for the quantum internet at 'Launch to the Future: Quantum Internet' event

    U.S. Department of Energy unveils blueprint for the quantum internet at 'Launch to the Future: Quantum Internet' event

    The U.S. Department of Energy unveils a report that lays out a blueprint strategy for the development of a national quantum internet, bringing the United States to the forefront of the global quantum race and ushering in a new era of communications. This report provides a pathway to ensure the development of the National Quantum Initiative Act.


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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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