Saturday, December 20, 2014

PNNL Research Highlights

Fundamental and Computational Sciences Directorate
  1. Bringing Oxides into the Visible Realm
    Results: With the promise of sunlight into fuel, strontium titanate (SrTiO3) is widely studied. The problem is the optical band gap or the energy needed to get electrons to do work after being hit with light. At 3.2 electron-volts, the gap requires ultraviolet light. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory shortened the gap to 2.3 eV, putting it in the visible light regime. The shorter gap is thanks to a new technique that fabricates epitaxial strontium titanate films with equal concentrations of lanthanum and chromium additives, or dopants. An expitaxial film is created by putting a crystalline layer on a crystalline surface one atom at a time to make an ideal material. The added elements reduce the gap without creating any undesirable defects.
  2. David Asner Named American Physical Society Fellow
    Congratulations to Dr. David Asner at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on being initiated into the ranks of American Physical Society Fellow. The APS, founded in 1899, is the leading voice for physics and an authoritative source of physics information for the advancement of science and the benefit of humanity. Asner was chosen for his leadership in heavy flavor physics and for his key role in the analysis and interpretation of data recorded by the CLEO detector that operated at the Cornell University electron-positron.
  3. Chris Mundy Named American Physical Society Fellow
    Congratulations to Dr. Chris Mundy at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on being named a Fellow of the American Physical Society, which was founded in 1899. Mundy received this honor for his "pioneering applications of Kohn-Sham density functional theory to further our understanding of complex processes that occur at the air-water interface."
  4. Will Shaw Quoted in Virginian-Pilot on Wind-Measuring Buoy
    Dr. William Shaw, atmospheric scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, was quoted in a December 13 online edition of The Virginian-Pilot serving the Virginia Beach area. The article describes the laser-carrying buoy that will measure offshore wind at different altitudes for one year to assess wind energy potential. The buoys, another of which will also be deployed off Oregon's Coos Bay, carry lidars and other instruments that can measure wind speed and related meteorological and oceanographic variables. The data will be used to better understand wind behavior and enable effective development of offshore wind farms. Shaw is a project manager for the PNNL work to develop and deploy the instruments, sponsored by the Department of Energy.
  5. Halappanavar to Lead Analysis and Algorithms Team
    This month, Mahantesh Halappanavar assumed the role as new Team Lead of the Analysis and Algorithms group within the Advanced Computing, Mathematics, and Data Division’s Data Sciences pillar. Mahantesh has long been a contributor to the many efforts at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory that use algorithmic techniques to solve scientific computing problems. His interest in graph algorithms applied to high-performance computing (HPC) has resulted in novel research affecting areas spanning graph matching and coloring to combinatorial algorithms to stochastic coordinate descent and community detection.
  6. The Microbe Mineral Makeover
    Results: Cleaning up polluted soil and growing crops for biofuels benefit from a deeper understanding of how microbes alter subsurface minerals. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of East Anglia, and University College London assess the state of understanding of a key enzymatic pathway employed by bacteria in these transformations: chains of proteins called multi-heme cytochromes. The proteins perform a variety of tasks, primarily acting as electron conduits, and take multiple forms. The review, which focuses on the microbe Shewanella oneidensis, appears in Journal of the Royal Society Interfaces. The article covers more than 150 studies of the protein, spanning more than three decades.
  7. Electron-Rich Ions Retain Charge When Softly Landed
    Results: Creating extended range electric cars and high capacity flash memory for portable electronics requires scientists to delve into the behavior of anions, negatively charged molecules, that can store extra electrons needed to get the job done. For the first time, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) determined how carefully prepared electron-rich anions interact with three well-known carbon-based surfaces. Unlike positively charged ions, anions retain their charge and fail to transfer electrons to the surface. The Keggin anions (see sidebar) refuse to release their electrons to the surface because of the substantial force holding the electrons to the molecule.
  8. Scott Chambers Honored by American Physical Society for Outstanding Reviews
    Congratulations to Dr. Scott Chambers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on being named an outstanding referee of Physical Review and Physical Review Letters. He was selected for his high-quality reviews and advice. His award notes how he has helped the journal "advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics, while creating a resource that is invaluable to authors, researchers, students and readers." Chambers referees several articles every year.
  9. Stephanie Waldhoff Co-Authored Science Perspective on the Social Cost of Carbon
    Congratulations to Dr. Stephanie Waldhoff, who co-authored a Perspective article in the December 5 issue of Science. The journal, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is a widely read and respected publication for science research and opinion. The Perspective is an invited opinion article written about topics and issues of concern and interest to a broad community. Waldhoff and colleagues wrote "Using and improving the social cost of carbon," concerning a key economic tool used in U.S. government regulatory impact analyses.
  10. Ghassem Asrar Named Co-Chair of Scientific Council
    Congratulations to Dr. Ghassem R. Asrar, named to co-chair the Steering Council for the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP). The Steering Council members represent more than a dozen countries and diverse science perspectives. Asrar, world-renowned for his experience in remote sensing and satellites, brings a fundamental understanding of the connections between human activities and Earth's land, oceans, ice, and atmosphere. The Steering Council provides scientific guidance and establishes policies that apply to the broader organization.