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Welcome to Currents


Welcome to Currents. Every six to eight weeks, this e-newsletter will feature the latest research from PNNL, discuss how we are working with other labs and universities, and highlight opportunities for colleagues, postdocs and students to partner with our research teams. The purpose of this newsletter is to profile the breadth of research at PNNL - and to highlight opportunities for collaboration. In this way, Currents is our way of starting conversations. Please if you have any questions or are interested in learning more about PNNL's science and technology. Thank you.

Dr. Steven Ashby
Laboratory Director

In this issue — July 2016

New material has potential to cut costs and make nuclear fuel recycling cleaner

Scientists are investigating a new metal organic framework (MOF) that selectively traps xenon, a gas released during the reprocessing of nuclear fuel. Conventional technologies operate at extremely low, energy-intensive temperatures. By working at ambient temperature, the new material has the potential to save energy, make reprocessing cleaner and less expensive. Read more.

Weird, Water-Oozing Material Could Quench Thirst

When nanorods were created in an experiment that didn't go as planned, researchers gave the microscopic spawns of science a closer examination. The nanorods had the unusual property of spontaneously emitting water. With further development, research has shown that this serendipitous innovation could be used for water harvesting and purification, or even sweat-gathering fabric. This work was published in Nature Nanotechnology. This work was published in Nanotechnology. Read more.

A Less-Explored Secret of Secondary Organic Aerosols

Research Partners: University of California, Davis; University of California, Irvine

Scientists discovered an often ignored but very influential process that can affect more than just the air we breathe. It affects our weather and climate. Research published in the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems identified oligomerization - a process that causes smaller molecules to combine and form larger molecules - as the most influential process among seven model parameters affecting secondary organic aerosol-forming in the atmosphere. Read more.

A More Stable, Efficient Catalyst for Biofuel Production?

While popular zeolite catalysts could help turn paper manufacturing waste and other biomass into fuel, the catalyst crumbles after just two days in hot water - a challenge because hot water is nearly universal in biofuel production. Published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a PNNL research team discovered that fixing broken bonds deep inside the material stabilized the catalyst and let it thrive in hot water. Read more.

A Slow Separation: The Finer Details of Nuclear Fission

Research Partners: University of Washington; Warsaw University of Technology (Poland); Los Alamos National Laboratory

In the first study of its kind, scientists developed a novel model that provides an intricate look at what happens during the final stages of nuclear fission. Using the model, researchers determined that fission fragments remain connected far longer than expected before the daughter nuclei split apart. Published in the journal Physical Review Letters, this work provides a long-awaited description of real-time fission dynamics within a microscopic framework, opening a pathway to a theoretical method with abundant predictive power. Read more.

Better Material for Next-Gen Data Storage and Solar Cells?

Research Partners: North Carolina State University; Gatan Inc.; Sandia National Laboratories

In the quest to synthesize a useful double perovskite material not found in nature, researchers developed a multidimensional analysis approach that resulted in the first direct atomic-scale measurement of ordering in the material. In a paper published in Chemistry of Materials, the researchers showed that combining multiscale synthesis, characterization and modeling techniques can lead to a better understanding of complex materials systems. These results will help scientists precisely engineer next-generation materials for data storage and solar cell applications. Read more.

Study Focuses on Proteins in Ovarian Cancer Biology

Research Partners: Johns Hopkins University; Stanford University School of Medicine; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; University of California at San Diego; New York University School of Medicine; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; National Cancer Institute; Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium

In what is believed to be the largest study of its kind, scientists examined the collections of proteins in the tumors of 169 ovarian cancer patients to identify critical proteins present in their tumors. This study was published in the journal Cell. By integrating their findings about the collection of proteins (the proteome) with information already known about the tumors' genetic data (the genome), the investigators report the potential for new insights into the progress of the most malignant form of the disease. Read more.

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