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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 email us at 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 - May 2015

Cyclotron radiation from one electron

Collaborators: Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of Washington; Karlsruher Institut für Technologie; National Radio Astronomy Observatory

For the first time, researchers have detected energy given off by single electrons trapped in a magnetic field. The result might help them figure out the weight of a neutrino - one of the smallest particles in the universe. The findings were reported in the April 20 edition of Physical Review Letters. Read more.

When Arctic permafrost melts...

Collaborators: University of California, Berkeley; California State University, Northridge; University of Guelph; University of Tennessee; University of Copenhagen; U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; U.S. Geological Survey

As the Arctic warms, carbon locked away in permafrost will be transformed into powerful greenhouse gases, but little is known about how that transition takes place. Now, scientists looking at microbes in different types of Arctic soil have a new picture of life in permafrost that reveals entirely new species and hints that subzero microbes might be active. This information, published in Nature, is key to prepare for the release of gigatons of methane, which could set the Earth on a path to irreversible global warming. Read more.

Detecting cyberattack patterns

Collaborators: Joint Center for Energy Storage Research; U.S. Army Research Laboratory

As the volume of computer network traffic surges, the threat of intrusion and cyberattack increases. As a result, global corporations and government agencies increasingly need to protect intellectual property and consumer data. To identify precursor events and patterns as they emerge, scientists developed a technology that identifies and categorizes cyberattacks as graph patterns to enhance detection. The research team's paper was published in the 18th International Conference on Extending Database Technology (ICDT 2015). March 23-27, 2015, Brussels, Belgium. Read more.

Better rechargeable batteries

Collaborators: Pennsylvania State University; University of California, Davis; Florida State University

PNNL researchers recently gained insight into the chemistry that clogs rechargeable lithium batteries using special microscope setups at EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE national scientific user facility at PNNL. This research, appearing in the journal Nano Letters, will help researchers design cheaper and more powerful rechargeable batteries with metals more common and safer than lithium. Read more.

Replacing platinum in fuel cell catalysts

A transition from inefficient and polluting combustion engines to fuel cells on a massive scale is not currently feasible due to the high cost of platinum-based catalysts. A new nanoparticle preparation system provides the means to get at the fundamental science of replacing some of the platinum with cheaper, Earth-abundant metals. Described in the journal Nanoscale, the implications of this new preparation technique go far beyond fuel cells. It may be used to create alloy nanomaterials for solar cells, catalysts for a variety of chemical reactions, and energy storage devices. Read more.

Examining the information content in nanoscale chemical images

Collaborators: University of Notre Dame

Scientists discovered a potential remediation strategy for environmental contamination using mineral structures that form naturally underground. Experimental results indicate that low-temperature mineral structures in the subsurface are highly selective for the incorporation of neptunium or uranium actinyl ions - a mechanism that may be used as part of a groundwater remediation strategy. The research was published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. Read more.

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