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Breakthroughs Magazine

At A Glance

Power walking

image of soldierwith boots

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are investigating ways to convert energy from the environment—including from human movement into electricity to power new portable technologies for the soldiers of the future.

In one project they've designed a boot that would include a built-in power module. Every time soldiers take a step, they would be generating electricity that could be stored in portable batteries. These batteries could then power portable equipment such as tools, advanced radio communications and helmet assemblies that include electronic image displays and sensors.


A lesson in protection

A group of 24 Lithuanian border enforcement officials headed back to a different kind of school this fall—a training program to learn about methods and tools needed to fight the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

men scanning a barrel

Through a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Customs Service, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientists teach border enforcement officials tricks of the smuggling trade. The lessons address where materials and components associated with the development or deployment of a weapon of mass destruction can be hidden in cars, trucks and other modes of transportation. They also train border officials to use advanced detection technologies, including an ultrasound system and a material identification system developed at Pacific Northwest.

Increased border security in transit countries that lead to the Middle East, especially those that are landlocked, has become more important since the Soviet Union's demise. Since 1997, Pacific Northwest has trained more than 225 border enforcement officials from 14 Eastern and Central European and former Soviet bloc countries at HAMMER, a U.S. Department of Energy hands-on training and education center in Richland, Wash. Pacific Northwest also has been involved in on-location training for border enforcement officials in 14 Eastern and Central European countries.


microscope

A winning combination

Researchers have obtained the world's first simultaneous images of biological cells using a new tool that marries two advanced research methods. The image was obtained with a prototype of a combined microscope that allows fluorescent optical microscopes and magnetic resonance microscopes to focus on the same samples at the same time. Considered the "best of both worlds," the equipment was tested at the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a national user facility operated by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

While each technology has unique advantages, combining them significantly enhances the ability of scientists to study living cells and cell systems and provides more information than when used separately. "We're excited about where this technology is taking us because it may allow us to study a variety of cell processes in more detail than ever before, including those of critical importance to such things as cancer diagnosis and therapy," said Robert Wind, who led the multidisciplinary development team.

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