Fundamental and Computational Sciences Directorate
Crossing the Atmosphere's Next Frontier
A blanket of atmospheric particles and pollution covers Mexico City impacting visibility, climate and human health. Aerosol and gases from natural and urban sources mix and chemically react in the atmosphere to form secondary organic aerosols, the subject of this study. The photo was taken from a research aircraft flight during the Megacity Initiative: Local and Global Research Observations (MILAGRO) field study in March 2006.
Yong Wang Elected Fellow in American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Congratulations to Dr. Yong Wang on being chosen as
an American Institute of Chemical Engineers Fellow. Wang is internationally known for his catalysis research, which has
significantly improved energy efficiency in the chemical and fuels
work includes basic studies of structure-function relationships of metal
catalysts, novel material development, and reaction engineering to improve
biomass and hydrocarbon conversion to fuels and chemicals.
Microfluidic Devices Move from Application to Fundamental Science
Just a few drops of liquid or a bit more is run past
specialized sensors in microfluidic devices to detect chemicals of concern to
doctors and security personnel. However, these devices are now being reinvented
for use in scientific instruments to answer fundamental questions, according to
a review written by scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and published
in Microfluidics and Nanofluidics.
Rodland to Chair NIH Cancer Biomarkers Study Section
Congratulations to Dr. Karin D. Rodland,
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who was invited to serve as chairperson
of the National Institutes of Health's Cancer Biomarkers Study Section. Her
2-year term begins July 1.
Review Article Puts Low-Dose Radiation Biology Controversy into Perspective
A review of the current issues in low-dose radiation research authored by two radiation biologists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is the cover story of the May 2013 issue of Radiation Research. The review, by Laboratory Fellow Dr. William F. Morgan and retired PNNL scientist Dr. William J. Bair, highlights critical areas of controversy in low-dose radiation biology, and suggests areas of future research to address these issues.
How to Overcome the Oxide Barrier
at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have uncovered the characteristics of
a low-resistance electrical contact to strontium titanate, SrTiO3,
an important prototypical oxide semiconductor.
Oxides are likely to be important materials in next-generation
electronic devices, and they need to be extremely small. Getting electrical
signals into and out of oxide semiconductors is hard because a large energy
barrier typically develops at the junction with metal contacts. Metal contacts are required to get
electricity into and out of a semiconductor device in much the same way that
jumper cables are needed to transfer power from a healthy car battery to a dead
battery. This work shows how to eliminate this barrier while keeping the
contact area extremely small, at the nanometer (one billionth of a meter)
At the Junction of Humid and Sticky
Results: What climate component can be as thick and sticky as honey, peanut butter or even asphalt? It is tiny particles forming in the atmosphere. An international team of scientists used two new techniques to find the viscosity of organic particles produced when α-pinene, one gas given off by pine trees, meets ozone, a gas produced from pollution. The researchers, from the University of British Columbia, Harvard University, University of Canterbury in New Zealand, University of Leeds in England, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that the resulting carbon-containing particles behave like liquids, semi-solids or solids across a range of atmospheric relative humidity conditions. Their research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Integrated Omics Uncovers Roles of Fungi and Bacteria in Lignocellulose Degradation
Results: A multi-institutional team
from the Department of Energy's Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) used
metagenomic and metaproteomic approaches to provide insight into the symbiotic
relationship between leaf-cutter ants, fungi, and bacteria. In doing so,
they have mapped the first draft genome of the predominant fungus and clarified
its role in lignocellulose degradation in underground fungal gardens tended by
the ants. Ultimately, scientists hope that this understanding will help the
development of cellulosic biofuels.
Would You Hire This Catalyst?
two catalysts for the job of turning intermittent wind or solar energy into chemical
fuels, scientists chose the material that gets the job done quickly and uses
the least energy. A catalyst that quickly produces fuel but uses far more
energy than it stores won't get the job. Scientists could measure the wasted energy,
also known as overpotential, in water but not in other liquids, until researchers
at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
devised a quick, elegant technique.
Rain and Cloud Resistance
Results: Tropical cloudiness has its own timeline. That’s what researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found when they compared development of turbulent clouds to the timing of the atmospheric perturbation that rolls over the region every 60 to 90 days. Contrary to past assumptions, rather than a smooth transition, they found two peaks in cloudiness and rainfall during the active phase of the atmospheric phenomenon known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO for short).