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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 — April 2016

Microbes May Not Be Adaptable to Climate Change

Collaborators: Washington State University; Joint Global Change Research Institute

Microbes in soil exert enormous influence on our planet's carbon cycle, but they may not be as adaptable to climate change as most scientists have presumed, according to the findings of a unique 17-year study of transplanted soils on a mountain in eastern Washington state. The team published their research in the journal PLOS One. Read more.

New Composite Material Has Potential for Energy Applications

Collaborators: University of Amsterdam (Netherlands); Argonne National Laboratory, Advanced Photon Source

Inexpensive metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) pull gases from air or other mixed gas streams, but fail to do so with oxygen. Now, a research team has overcome this limitation by creating a composite of a MOF and a helper molecule. The two work in concert to separate oxygen from other gases simply and cheaply. This scientific advancement, published in Advanced Materials, could impact a variety of applications, including fuel cells, food packaging, oxygen sensors and other industrial processes. Read more.

Today's Clouds: Not the Same as Pre-Industrial Clouds?

Collaborators: Nanjing University (China); Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science (Switzerland); National Center for Atmospheric Research; University of Oxford (UK); Norwegian Meteorological Institute; Kyushu University (Japan)

How much will greenhouse gases warm the Earth? It's one of the toughest questions asked of climate scientists. They have a good idea when they use simple models of the globe, for example, by including just a few things like sunlight and greenhouse gases. But throw in tiny airborne particles that seed clouds? Then scientists calculate a wide range of possibilities. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international team of scientists researched the puzzle, and they found that clouds may have been much "cleaner" before the dawn of the Industrial Age. Read more.

New Material Increases the Lifetime of Solar-Powered Electrons

Collaborators: University of Oxford (UK); SuperSTEM, SciTech Daresbury Campus (UK); Argonne National Laboratory

Storing sunlight as fuel for later use to drive fuel cells requires new materials. An international team of scientists has now demonstrated just such a material. In work published in Advanced Materials Interfaces, they combined two oxides on the atomic scale. The interface between the oxide materials absorbs visible light, producing electrons and holes that might be useful for catalyzing reactions, such as producing hydrogen fuel. If there is nothing to pull those electrons and holes apart, however, they will quickly destroy one another without doing anything useful. By synthesizing this material as a series of alternating layers, the team created a built-in electric field that could separate the excited electrons and holes — opening new possibilities for better catalytic performance. Read more.

Scientists Highlight Mass Spec Imaging Developments, Applications

Collaborators: Uppsala University (Sweden)

Researchers have combined mass spectrometry and microscopic imaging to create an impactful capability — mass spectrometry imaging (MSI). This technique allows scientists to locate and identify hundreds of molecules in complex samples without using a labeling compound. In a recent review in the journal Analytical Chemistry, scientists Julia Laskin and Ingela Lanekoff summarized key developments and applications of ambient ionization techniques based on liquid extraction used in MSI. Read more.

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