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How X-Rays Helped to Solve Mystery of Floating Rocks

Experiments at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source have helped scientists to solve a mystery of why some rocks can float for years in the ocean, traveling thousands of miles before sinking.

Special X-Ray Technique Allows Scientists to See 3-D Deformations

In a new study published last Friday in Science, researchers at Argonne used an X-ray scattering technique called Bragg coherent diffraction imaging to reconstruct in 3-D the size and shape of grain defects. These defects create imperfections in the lattice of atoms inside a grain that can give rise to interesting material properties and effects.

Neptune: Neutralizer-Free Plasma Propulsion

The most established plasma propulsion concepts are gridded-ion thrusters that accelerate and emit a larger number of positively charged particles than those that are negatively charged. To enable the spacecraft to remain charge-neutral, a "neutralizer" is used to inject electrons to exactly balance the positive ion charge in the exhaust beam. However, the neutralizer requires additional power from the spacecraft and increases the size and weight of the propulsion system. Researchers are investigating how the radio-frequency self-bias effect can be used to remove the neutralizer altogether, and they report their work in this week's Physics of Plasmas.

Report Sheds New Insights on the Spin Dynamics of a Material Candidate for Low-Power Devices

In a report published in Nano LettersArgonne researchers reveal new insights into the properties of a magnetic insulator that is a candidate for low-power device applications; their insights form early stepping-stones towards developing high-speed, low-power electronics that use electron spin rather than charge to carry information.

Researchers Find Computer Code That Volkswagen Used to Cheat Emissions Tests

An international team of researchers has uncovered the mechanism that allowed Volkswagen to circumvent U.S. and European emission tests over at least six years before the Environmental Protection Agency put the company on notice in 2015 for violating the Clean Air Act. During a year-long investigation, researchers found code that allowed a car's onboard computer to determine that the vehicle was undergoing an emissions test.

Physicists Discover That Lithium Oxide on Tokamak Walls Can Improve Plasma Performance

A team of physicists has found that a coating of lithium oxide on the inside of fusion machines known as tokamaks can absorb as much deuterium as pure lithium can.

Scientists Perform First Basic Physics Simulation of Spontaneous Transition of the Edge of Fusion Plasma to Crucial High-Confinement Mode

PPPL physicists have simulated the spontaneous transition of turbulence at the edge of a fusion plasma to the high-confinement mode that sustains fusion reactions. The research was achieved with the extreme-scale plasma turbulence code XGC developed at PPPL in collaboration with a nationwide team.

Green Fleet Technology

New research at Penn State addresses the impact delivery trucks have on the environment by providing green solutions that keep costs down without sacrificing efficiency.

Scientists Demonstrate New Real-Time Technique for Studying Ionic Liquids at Electrode Interfaces

This electron microscope-based imaging technique could help scientists optimize the performance of ionic liquids for batteries and other energy storage devices.

How Scientists Turned a Flag Into a Loudspeaker

A paper-thin, flexible device created at Michigan State University not only can generate energy from human motion, it can act as a loudspeaker and microphone as well, nanotechnology researchers report in the May 16 edition of Nature Communications.


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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduates Urged to Embrace Change at 211th Commencement

Describing the dizzying pace of technological innovation, former United States Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz urged graduates to "anticipate career change, welcome it, and manage it to your and your society's benefit" at the 211th Commencement at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Saturday.

ORNL Welcomes Innovation Crossroads Entrepreneurial Research Fellows

Oak Ridge National Laboratory today welcomed the first cohort of innovators to join Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast region's first entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

Department of Energy Secretary Recognizes Argonne Scientists' Work to Fight Ebola, Cancer

Two groups of researchers at Argonne earned special awards from the office of the U.S. Secretary of Energy for addressing the global health challenges of Ebola and cancer.

Jefferson Science Associates, LLC Recognized for Leadership in Small Business Utilization

Jefferson Lab/Jefferson Science Associates has a long-standing commitment to doing business with and mentoring small businesses. That commitment and support received national recognition at the 16th Annual Dept. of Energy Small Business Forum and Expo held May 16-18, 2017 in Kansas City, Mo.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President's Commencement Colloquy to Address "Criticality, Incisiveness, Creativity"

To kick off the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Commencement weekend, the annual President's Commencement Colloquy will take place on Friday, May 19, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The discussion, titled "Criticality, Incisiveness, Creativity," will include the Honorable Ernest J. Moniz, former Secretary of Energy, and the Honorable Roger W. Ferguson Jr., President and CEO of TIAA, and will be moderated by Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson.

ORNL, University of Tennessee Launch New Doctoral Program in Data Science

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has approved a new doctoral program in data science and engineering as part of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.

SurfTec Receives $1.2 Million Energy Award to Develop Novel Coating

The Department of Energy has awarded $1.2 million to SurfTec LLC, a company affiliated with the U of A Technology Development Foundation, to continue developing a nanoparticle-based coating to replace lead-based journal bearings in the next generation of electric machines.

Ames Laboratory Scientist Inducted Into National Inventors Hall of Fame

Iver Anderson, senior metallurgist at Ames Laboratory, has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

DOE HPC4Mfg Program Funds 13 New Projects to Improve U.S. Energy Technologies Through High Performance Computing

A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to spur the use of high performance supercomputers to advance U.S. manufacturing is funding 13 new industry projects for a total of $3.9 million.

Penn State Wind Energy Club Breezes to Victory in Collegiate Wind Competition

The Penn State Wind Energy Club breezed through the field at the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition 2017 Technical Challenge, held April 20-22 at the National Wind Technology Center near Boulder, Colorado--earning its third overall victory in four years at the Collegiate Wind Competition.


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Casting a Wide Net

Designed molecules will provide positive impacts in energy production by selectively removing unwanted ions from complex solutions.

New Software Tools Streamline DNA Sequence Design-and-Build Process

Enhanced software tools will accelerate gene discovery and characterization, vital for new forms of fuel production.

The Ultrafast Interplay Between Molecules and Materials

Computer calculations by the Center for Solar Fuels, an Energy Frontier Research Center, shed light on nebulous interactions in semiconductors relevant to dye-sensitized solar cells.

Supercapacitors: WOODn't That Be Nice

Researchers at Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage, an Energy Frontier Research Center, take advantage of nature-made materials and structure for energy storage research.

Groundwater Flow Is Key for Modeling the Global Water Cycle

Water table depth and groundwater flow are vital to understanding the amount of water that plants transmit to the atmosphere.

Finding the Correct Path

A new computational technique greatly simplifies the complex reaction networks common to catalysis and combustion fields.

Opening Efficient Routes to Everyday Plastics

A new material from the Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center, an Energy Frontier Research Center, facilitates the production of key industrial supplies.

Fight to the Top: Silver and Gold Compete for the Surface of a Bimetallic Solid

It's the classic plot of a buddy movie. Two struggling bodies team up to drive the plot and do good together. That same idea, when it comes to metals, could help scientists solve a big problem: the amount of energy consumed by making chemicals.

Saving Energy Through Light Control

New materials, designed by researchers at the Center for Excitonics, an Energy Frontier Research Center, can reduce energy consumption with the flip of a switch.

Teaching Perovskites to Swim

Scientists at the ANSER Energy Frontier Research Center designed a two-component layer protects a sunlight-harvesting device from water and heat.


Speedy X-Ray Detector Arrives at NSLS-II

Article ID: 674210

Released: 2017-05-05 10:05:21

Source Newsroom: Brookhaven National Laboratory

  • Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

    At the SRX beamline at NSLS-II: (standing, left to right) Juergen Thieme (NSLS-II), Chris Ryan (CSIRO), Robin Kirkham (CSIRO), Florian Werner (TU Munich) and Peter Siddons (NSLS-II) with (seated, left to right) Margaux LeVaillant (CSIRO) and Giada Iancono (CNRS). Garth Williams (NSLS-II) and Tony Kuczewski (NSLS-II) participated in the experiment, but were not present for the photo.

  • Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Using Maia to "chemically fingerprint" mineral deposits: This false-color image represents rubidium (red), iron (green), and chromium (blue) in a mineral sample from the Noril'sk deposit in Siberia, the world's largest mining resource for nickel. The picture size is 10.5 millimeters by 5.1 millimeters, 3751 x 1822 pixels, with a scan time of just 0.8 milliseconds per pixel.

  • Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Image of the heart of the Maia detector, a two-inch wide chip with 384 silicon detector elements in an 20 x 20 arrangement, each connected to its own readout amplifier. The central hole lets incident x-rays pass through to be focused onto the sample, which allows the detector to be very close to the sample.

The National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), a DOE Office of Science User Facility at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, is a truly international resource. Geoscientists from Australia and France recently trekked across the globe to aim NSLS-II’s tiny, intense beams of x-ray light at thin samples of nickel-rich mineral gathered from a mine in far-off Siberia. They scanned these slices of geological material to see what other chemical elements were associated with the nickel. The group also examined slices of minerals grown in a lab, and compared results from the two sample suites to learn how massive metal deposits form.

Their experiment was the first to use a newly installed x-ray detector, called Maia, mounted at NSLS-II’s Submicron Resolution X-Ray Spectroscopy (SRX) beamline.  Scientists from around the world come to SRX to create high-definition images of mineral deposits, aerosols, algae—just about anything they need to examine with millionth-of-a-meter resolution. Maia, developed by a collaboration between NSLS-II, Brookhaven’s Instrumentation Division and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), can scan centimeter-scale sample areas at micron scale resolution in just a few hours—a process that used to take weeks.

“The Maia detector is a game-changer,” said Juergen Thieme, lead scientist at the SRX beamline. “Milliseconds per image pixel instead of seconds is a huge difference.”

SRX beamline users now have time to gather detailed data about larger areas, rather than choosing a few zones to focus on. This greatly enhances the chance to capture rare “needle in a haystack” clues to ore forming processes, for example.

“This is important when you are trying to publish a paper,” said Thieme. “Editors want to make sure that your claim is based on many examples and not one random event.”

“We’ve already gathered enough data for one, if not two papers,” said Margaux Le Vaillant, one of the visiting users from CSIRO and principal investigator for this experiment.

Collaborator Giada Iacono Marziano of the French National Center for Scientific Research added, “Because we can now look at a larger image in detail, we might see things—like certain elemental associations—that we didn’t predict.” These kinds of surprises pose unexpected questions to scientists, pushing their research in new directions.

Siddons and his collaborators at Brookhaven Lab and CSIRO have provided Maia detectors to synchrotron light sources around the world—CHESS at Cornell University in New York, PETRA-III at the DESY laboratory in Hamburg, Germany, and the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne. The detector at SRX offers the advantage of using beams from NSLS-II, the brightest light source of its kind in the world.

When scientists shine the x-ray beams at samples, they excite the material’s atoms. As the atoms relax back to their original state they fluoresce, emitting x-ray light that the detector picks up. Different chemical elements will emit different characteristic wavelengths of light, so this x-ray fluorescence mapping is a kind of chemical fingerprinting, allowing the detector to create images of the sample’s chemical makeup.

The Maia detector has several features that help it map samples at high speeds and in fine detail.

“Maia doesn’t ‘stop and measure’ like other detectors,” said physicist Pete Siddons, who led Brookhaven’s half of the project. Most detectors work in steps, analyzing each spot on a sample one at a time, he explained, but the Maia detector scans continuously. Siddons’ team has programmed Maia with a process called dynamic analysis to pick apart the x-ray spectral data collected and resolve where different elements are present.

Maia’s analysis systems also make it possible for scientists to watch images of their samples appear on the computer screen in real-time as Maia scans. If samples are very similar, Maia will recycle the dynamic analysis algorithms it used to create multi-element images from the first sample’s fluorescence signals to build the subsequent sample’s images in real-time, without computational lag.

Part of Maia’s speed is also attributable to the 384 tiny photon-sensing detector elements that make up the large detector. This large grid of sensors can pick up more re-emitted x-rays than standard detectors, which typically use less than 10 elements. Siddons’ instrumentation team designed special readout chips to deal with the large number of sensors and allow for efficient detection.

The 20-by-20 grid of detectors has a hole in the middle, but that’s intentional, Siddons explained. “The hole lets us put the detector much closer to the sample,” Siddons said. Rather than placing the sample in front of the x-ray beam and the detector off to the side, SRX beamline scientists have aligned the beam, sample, and detector so that the x-ray beam shines through the hole to reach the sample. With this arrangement, the detector covers a wide angle and captures a large fraction of fluoresced x-rays. That sensitivity allows researchers to scan faster, which can be used either to save time or to cut back on the intensity of x-rays striking the sample, reducing any damage the rays might cause.

Siddons noted that the team is currently developing new readout chips for the detector, and incorporating a new type of sensor, called a silicon drift detector array. Together these will heighten the detector’s ability to distinguish between photons of similar energy, unfolding detail in complex spectra and making for even more accurate chemical maps.

This work is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy.  The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.  For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.