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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 — September 2016

A New, Non-Toxic Option for Flat Panel Makers

Research Partners: Tokyo Institute of Technology

Mayenite can be turned from an insulator to a transparent conductor and back. It is also suitable for use as semiconductors in flat panel displays. This flexibility is due to a tiny change in its chemical composition. In new work published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists show how components called electron anions help transform crystalline mayenite, also called C12A7, into semiconducting glass. For flat panel makers, this may lead to the replacement of indium and gallium with abundant non-toxic elements like calcium and aluminum. Read more.

Microbial Protein's Structure Can Be Altered When Exposed to Soil Mineral Surfaces

Research Partners: Oregon State University; Institut für Bodenlandschaftsforschung (Germany)

The degradation of soil organic matter by microbes plays an important role in atmospheric carbon levels. A recent study published in the journal Langmuir examined how soil minerals affect the stability of microbial proteins, potentially influencing the rate of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere. The findings show interactions with the surface of birnessite, but not other common soil minerals, have potential to substantially alter the structure of bacterial proteins. This research sheds new light on how protein-mineral interactions affect degradation rates of soil organic matter. Read more.

How Organic Molecules Influence Marine Clouds

Research Partners: Montana State University; Los Alamos National Laboratory

Scientists are learning more about chemical interaction mechanisms that may be responsible for the high amount of sugar-like material found in sea spray. The material is produced from ocean bubbles that burst and launch the tiny particles into the atmosphere. Ultimately, research will show how these particles impact the brightness of the cloud layers formed above the ocean, which have an effect on the Earth's climate. This research was published in Geophysical Research Letters. Read more.

Precisely Controlled Gold Nanocrystals for Industry

Research Partners: University of Florida; Brookhaven National Laboratory

Tiny particles of gold are highly stable and have features that make them ideal for many industrial applications. The challenge? It is difficult to control the size and shape of single-crystal nanostructures. Scientists have now revealed a key role for a surfactant called polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) in the growth of gold nanocrystals upon exposure to visible light. The findings, published in Nature Materials, could be used to optimize properties of gold nanocrystals for specific industrial and medical applications. Read more.

PNNL Scientist Joins Hunt for Signs of Ancient Martian Life

Research Partners: Carl Sagan Center, SETI Institute; NASA Ames Research Center

The search for signs of ancient life on Mars has come to PNNL, where Sherry Cady, an expert on rock chemistry and microbial signatures, is part of a team that is investigating if there has ever been life on the red planet. Research will advance detection strategies to support the search for fossilized life. Rovers are expected to be sent to Mars in 2020 by the NASA and European ExoMars programs. Read more.

Take a look at ANT-Based Cyber Defense Software

A cyber-defense software system mimics the behavior of an ant colony to protect against hackers; It's one of five PNNL-developed technologies in the running for an R&D 100 Award. The Ant-Based Cyber Defense tool works by enabling a small "ant-like" program to wander from device-to-device. If the ants detect an anomaly, they alert a human by "swarming" to an area under attack. Watch as PNNL researcher Glenn Fink explains how the innovation works. View.

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