Thursday, July 31, 2014

PNNL Research Highlights

Fundamental and Computational Sciences Directorate
  1. 2014 PNWAVS Symposium To Be Held in Conjunction with PREMIER Network Meeting
    The 25th Annual Symposium of the Pacific Northwest AVS Science and Technology Society will be held in conjunction with the Pooled Resources for Electron Microscopy Informatics Education and Research, or PREMIER, Network meeting on September 16-19. The meeting will be held at EMSL in Richland, Washington.
  2. Jiwen Fan receives PNNL Award for Early Career Exceptional Achievement
    Congratulations to Dr. Jiwen Fan on receiving a 2014 Ronald L. Brodzinski Award for Early Career Exceptional Achievement. The award, which Pacific Northwest National Laboratory established in memory of Laboratory Fellow Ron Brodzinski, recognizes outstanding published scientific or engineering contributions in fields of national importance by individuals near the beginning of their professional careers.
  3. New Imaging Approach Accurately Measures Lipid and Metabolite Distributions in Biological Samples
    Results: To understand how cells converse, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Oregon Health & Science University designed an approach that accurately determines the spatial location of molecules and quantifies lipids and metabolites in biological samples. The new approach efficiently accounts for signal suppression or matrix effect (see sidebar) that may significantly alter molecules’ distributions obtained in mass spectrometry imaging experiments. Compensation for matrix effects is achieved by adding appropriate internal standards to the solvent used in nano-DESI imaging.
  4. Julia Laskin Receives Laboratory Director's Science and Engineering Achievement Award
    Congratulations to Dr. Julia Laskin on receiving a 2014 Laboratory Director’s Science and Engineering Achievement Award. The award recognizes Laskin for her fundamental contributions to mass spectrometry, in particular for her research involving ion collisions with surfaces. She is an internationally recognized expert in gas phase ion chemistry, surface modification, and chemical characterization. Her fundamental studies of complex ions colliding with well-characterized surfaces built a path for precise experimental control of ion activation and dissociation. Further, her innovative ion work demonstrated that soft-landing of mass-selected ions is a powerful technique for preparing and studying novel materials, including catalysts. She has also developed imaging mass spectrometry for chemical analysis of biological samples in their native environments as part of PNNL's Chemical Imaging Initiative.
  5. A Noble Gas Cage
    Results: When nuclear fuel gets recycled, the process releases radioactive krypton and xenon gases. Naturally occurring uranium in rock contaminates basements with the related gas radon. A new porous material called CC3 effectively traps these gases, and research appearing July 20 in Nature Materials shows how: by breathing enough to let the gases in but not out.
  6. Mapping Molecules in the Human Lung
    A team of investigators at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will perform an unprecedented, systematic study, mapping the molecular components of normal lung development during late term and early childhood. They recently were awarded $4.5 million over 5 years by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to develop a molecular atlas of the developing human lung (LungMAP).
  7. Comm Link
    Results: Tensor contractions, generalized matrix multiplications that are time-consuming to calculate, make them among the most compute-intensive operations in several ab initio computational quantum chemistry methods. In this work, scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and The Ohio State University developed a systematic framework that uses three fundamental communication operators—recursive broadcast, rotation, and reduction, or RRR,—to derive communication-efficient algorithms for distributed contraction of arbitrary dimensional tensors on the IBM Blue Gene/Q Mira supercomputer. The framework automatically models potential space-performance trade-offs to optimize the communication costs incurred in executing tensor contractions on supercomputers. The paper documenting this work, “Communication-optimal Framework for Contracting Distributed Tensors,” is a SC14 Best Paper award finalist.
  8. Tropical Tempests Take Encouragement from Environment
    Results: Mix some warm ocean water with atmospheric instability and you might have a recipe for a cyclone. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Atlanta Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory found that the intensity of post-monsoon tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal has increased over the 30-year period from 1981-2010. The culprit? Trending increases in certain environmental conditions that brew up these storms: increased sea surface and upper ocean temperatures and atmospheric instability. These particular changes are prominent in the eastern Bay of Bengal where the strongest tropical cyclones have traditionally formed.
  9. Cherry Picking Molecules Based on Their Pi Electrons
    Results: Specialized windshield glass, everyday plastic water bottles, and countless other products are based on ethylene, a simple two-carbon molecule, which requires an energy-intense separation process to pluck the desired chemical away from nearly identical ethane. To eliminate the extreme cooling required in the separation, an international team including researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory designed a material with a porous framework that greatly prefers ethylene. What makes this material particularly potent for applications is that the highly selective sorbent is stable in air and water. In addition, the framework offers a high surface area that speeds the sorting. The material contains silver that binds with the electrons around ethylene's double-bonded carbon atoms. These electrons are known as π electrons or the π cloud.
  10. Dust Increases Cloud Cover
    Results: Surprisingly, cloud cover increases when more dust blows off the west coast of Africa, according to a long global climate simulation run by researchers from the University of California San Diego and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. They expected that heat radiating off of dust, which absorbs solar energy, would "burn off" the clouds. Instead, the team found more clouds as more dust flows from Africa over the Atlantic Ocean. The Community Earth System Model (CESM) produced the simulations in this research.