Tuesday, September 2, 2014

PNNL Research Highlights

Fundamental and Computational Sciences Directorate
  1. Predicting Cyclones: Small Errors Add Up to Big Difference
    Results: For the first time, an international team of scientists led by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory simulated Indian Ocean tropical cyclones to investigate how model errors grow. Using very high-resolution models, their research found that in the tropical cyclone environments, model errors begin to grow in calculations over small regions and continue to build from local to regional scales. The scientists also discovered that errors at small scales grow faster than those at larger scales, even in sophisticated models that explicitly simulate processes involving clouds and rain.
  2. Geoengineering: Opening a Dialogue on the Future
    Results: Climate geoengineering uses technology to temporarily reduce the effects of climate change by reflecting a small portion of sunlight back to space. As recently reported in Environmental Research Letters, an international team of scientists led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers used the output from climate models to evaluate which regions of the globe might be made "better" or "worse" by such geoengineering.
  3. Playing Twenty Questions with Molecules at Plasmonic Junctions
    Results: Sometimes, it seems as if molecules struggle to communicate with scientists. When it comes to junction plasmons, essentially light waves trapped at tiny gaps between noble metals, what the molecules have to say could radically change the design of detectors used for science and security. Single molecule detection sensitivity is feasible through Raman scattering from molecules coaxed into plasmonic junctions. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) found that sequences of Raman spectra recorded at a plasmonic junction, formed by a gold tip and a silver surface, exhibit dramatic intensity fluctuations, accompanied by switching from familiar vibrational line spectra of a molecule to broad band spectra of the same origin. The fluctuations confirm the team's earlier model that assigns enhanced band spectra in Raman scattering from plasmonic nanojunctions to shorting of the junction plasmon through intervening molecular bridges.
  4. New Project is the ACME of Addressing Climate Change
    Eight national laboratories, including Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, are combining forces with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, four academic institutions and one private-sector company, to start work on the most complete climate and Earth system model yet. High performance computing will be used for the project to address challenging and demanding climate change issues. Other participating national laboratories include Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Sandia.
  5. Modelers Clear Pathways for the Water-Carbon-Energy Cycle
    Results: The starting point very often changes the finish. A team led by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory modeled runoff, that is, water's movement over the land surface and through the subsurface, using two widely adopted methods. They found that the modeling choices result in differences that ultimately swing results in carbon cycle simulations—by as much as 20 percent. The differences in modeling runoff methods cause substantial differences in the soil moisture that also changes soil temperature. Their study was published in the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems.
  6. Waters Appointed to New National Academies Committee
    Congratulations to Dr. Katrina Waters, Deputy Director of Biological Sciences at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on her appointment to a new National Academies Study on Predictive-Toxicology Approaches. The study committee will evaluate modern toxicology approaches for use by the Department of Defense to predict toxicity, in efforts to prevent debilitating acute exposures to deployed personnel.
  7. Comprehensive Proteomic Dataset of Ovarian Tumor Samples Released
    Results: A collaboration between researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Johns Hopkins University has produced a comprehensive dataset of the proteomic analyses of high-grade serous ovarian tumor samples. Such tumors are the most common cancer of the ovary. The dataset provides researchers the opportunity to develop and test novel proteogenomic integration tools and algorithms to extend their understanding of cancer biology and how genomic through proteomic changes interact to drive cancer-information that can help identify clinical targets for treatment.
  8. Water Leads to Chemical that Gunks up Biofuels Production
    Results: Trying to understand the chemistry that turns plant material into the same energy-rich gasoline and diesel we put in our vehicles, researchers have discovered that water in the conversion process helps form an impurity which, in turn, slows down key chemical reactions. The study can help improve processes that produce biofuels from plants.
  9. Johannes Lercher and Chuck Peden Named Wiley Research Fellows
    Congratulations to Dr. Johannes Lercher and Dr. Chuck Peden at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on being named Wiley Research Fellows in recognition of the role they will play in EMSL's Energy Materials & Processes Science Theme, and their proven record of generating outstanding science.
  10. Chromium's Bonding Angles Let Oxygen Move Quickly
    Results: By taking advantage of the natural tendency of chromium atoms to avoid certain bonding environments, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have generated a material that allows oxygen to move through it very efficiently, and at relatively low temperatures. Specifically, they found that their attempts to make metallic SrCrO3 lead instead to the formation of semiconducting SrCrO2.8 . Because chromium as an ion with a charge of +4 does not like to form 90o bonds with oxygen, as it must in SrCrO3, SrCrO2.8 forms instead with a completely different crystal structure. This material contains oxygen-deficient planes through which oxygen can diffuse very easily.