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Fundamental & Computational Sciences Directorate

Chemical Imaging Research Area

Chemical Imaging photo

Researchers have long wanted to "see" chemical, materials, and biochemical processes, in time and space, with enough detail to determine what is occurring at the molecular level. This level of information will allow scientists and engineers to move from observing chemical, materials, and biological processes to controlling them. But, they lack the tools to reach this level of clarity, specifically for processing under operating conditions. Instead, they must infer what is happening from secondary sources and mathematical models. Data from multiple experimental tools are needed to significantly advance this capability.

In collaboration with U.S. and UK universities, scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are inventing the tools and techniques to generate in situ or in-place images at the nanometer and near-nanometer scales. This work is done using resources at EMSL, PNNL, and synchrotron radiation light sources.

As an example, imaging researchers obtained nanometer-scale images of environmental particles linked to climatic and health problems. At the near-nanometer scale, researchers are developing a robust method to quantify atomic-scale changes at energy storage material interfaces using the new generation of aberration-corrected microscopes and in situ stages. They are also building the computational tools to speed analysis of the massive data streams.

This work is funded by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Office at PNNL. Additional funding comes from other research grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and other sources.

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