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Printed, Flexible and Rechargeable Battery Can Power Wearable Sensors

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego have developed the first printed battery that is flexible, stretchable and rechargeable. The zinc batteries could be used to power everything from wearable sensors to solar cells and other kinds of electronics. The work appears in the April 19, 2017 issue of Advanced Energy Materials.

Neutrons Provide the First Nanoscale Look at a Living Cell Membrane

A research team from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has performed the first-ever direct nanoscale examination of a living cell membrane. In doing so, it also resolved a long-standing debate by identifying tiny groupings of lipid molecules that are likely key to the cell's functioning.

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.


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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.


A 'Wearable' Brain Scanner Inspired by Brookhaven Technology

Article ID: 674970

Released: 2017-05-18 10:05:21

Source Newsroom: Brookhaven National Laboratory

  • Nora Volkow, who led a world-renowned brain-imaging program at Brookhaven Lab, came up with the idea for RatCAP. She is now the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

  • Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, a neuroscientist at West Virginia University, places a helmet-like PET scanner on a research subject. The mobile scanner—designed for studies of human interaction, movement disorders, and more—is based on a scanner developed at Brookhaven Lab for brain-imaging studies in freely moving animals.

  • The Brookhaven-developed scanner, dubbed "RatCAP," made it possible to scan animals without anesthesia. Members of the RatCAP team in 2011 showing a brain scan and the apparatus holding the ring-shaped detector: (front row, from left) Paul Vaska, Craig Woody, Daniela Schulz, Srilalan Krishnamoorthy, Bosky Ravindranath, (back row, from left) Sean Stoll, David Schlyer, Sri Harsha Maramraju, Martin Purschke, Fritz Henn, and Paul O'Connor.

  • Stan Majewski, once a physicist at Jefferson Lab, now at the University of Virginia, and Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, a neuroscientist at West Virginia University—co-developers of an Ambulatory Microdose Positron Emission Tomography (AMPET) scanner—display a mockup of their device at a scientific conference. AMPET is based on a smaller mobile scanner designed for studies in rats that was developed at Brookhaven Lab

A 'Wearable' Brain Scanner Inspired by Brookhaven Technology

Building on a Brookhaven Lab innovation designed for brain imaging in moving rats, a team in Virginia and West Virginia designs a device for studies of human interaction, dementia, movement disorders, and more

By Lida Tunesi

Patients undergoing a positron emission tomography (PET) scan in today’s bulky, donut-shaped machines must lie completely still. Because of this, scientists cannot use the scanners to unearth links between movement and brain activity. What goes on up there when we nod in agreement or shake hands? How are the brains of people struggling to walk after a stroke different from those who can?

To tackle questions like these, Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, a neuroscientist at West Virginia University (WVU), has partnered with Stan Majewski, a physicist at WVU and now at the University of Virginia, to develop a miniaturized PET brain scanner. The scanner can be “worn” like a helmet, allowing research subjects to stand and make movements as the device scans. This Ambulatory Microdose Positron Emission Tomography (AMPET [https://www.pethelmet.org/]) scanner could launch new psychological and clinical studies on how the brain functions when affected by diseases from epilepsy to addiction, and during ordinary and dysfunctional social interactions.

 

“There are so many possibilities,” said Brefczynski-Lewis, “Scientists could use AMPET to study Alzheimer’s or traumatic brain injuries, or even our sense of balance. We want to push the limits of imaging mobility with this device.”

The idea was sparked by a scanner developed for studying rats, a project started in 2002 at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory. Majewski, a high-energy physicist by training, originally caught wind of Brookhaven’s “RatCAP [https://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=111235]” project because he ran in the same physicist circles as several of the RatCAP team members.

“I learned about what my friends and colleagues at Brookhaven were doing,” said Majewski, “and decided to build the same type of device for humans.”

Brookhaven beginnings

The Rat Conscious Animal PET, or RatCAP, scanner is a 250-gram ring that fits around the head of a rat, suspended by springs to support its weight and let the rat scurry about as the device scans. Nora Volkow, head of Brookhaven’s Life Sciences division at the time, came up with the idea to image the brains of awake and moving animals.

“I wanted to do PET scans on animals without having to use anesthesia,” said Volkow, who is now the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Unlike humans, animals can’t be told to simply lie still in a scanner. But the anesthesia required to make them lie still muddies the results. “It affects the distribution of the PET radiotracer and inhibits neurons,” Volkow said. A wearable scanner, however, would move with the animal’s brain and eliminate the need for anesthesia (see HOW PET WORKS). Volkow enlisted the help of Brookhaven scientists and engineers to make the idea a reality.

Tracking particles

Fortunately, there is a large overlap between medical imaging and nuclear physics, a subject in which Brookhaven Lab is a world leader. Today, physicists at the Lab use technology similar to PET scanners at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider [https://www.bnl.gov/rhic/] (RHIC), where they must track the particles that fly out of near-light speed collisions of charged nuclei. PET research at the Lab dates back to the early 1960s and includes the creation of the first single-plane scanner [https://www.flickr.com/photos/brookhavenlab/3181807959/in/album-72157611796003039/] as well as various tracer molecules [https://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=111461]. 

“Both fields think about the same things—how the photodetectors work, how the scintillating crystals work, how the electronics work,” said Brookhaven physicist Craig Woody. “PET scanners, as well as CT [computed tomography] and MRI [magnetic resonance imaging], are used by doctors but they are built by detector physicists.”

Woody, who is now working on a new particle detector for RHIC, led the RatCAP project with David Schlyer and Paul Vaska. At the time, Schlyer and Vaska were heads of Brookhaven’s cyclotron operations and of PET physics, respectively. Schlyer is now a scientist emeritus at the Lab and Vaska is a professor of biomedical engineering at Stony Brook University.

In designing the small-scale scanner, the team used recent advances in detector technology. For instance, they used dense crystals to convert the gamma photons generated by positron-electron interactions into visible light, along with small light-detecting sensors called avalanche photodiodes. They also used special electronics developed at Brookhaven and built into the compact, lightweight PET detector. Suspending the structure on long springs helped support its weight so rats could “wear” the scanner while moving around easily.

“It was a very collaborative effort,” said Schlyer, who produced the radioisotopes needed for the scans. “We had people from physics, biology, chemistry, medicine, and electrical engineering.”

From rats to hats

Word got out about RatCAP as the scientists presented their progress at conferences and meetings. Stan Majewski, then at DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), took notice. He had been working on new methods of breast cancer imaging, applying his high-energy physics detector expertise to the medical field.

“I had known Stan for a long time—we worked together at CERN, the European nuclear physics laboratory,” said Woody. “I have to give him credit because he was constantly saying ‘you really ought to do medical physics.’”

Majewski noted that Jefferson Lab's management was very supportive of the project and provided some seed money even after he relocated to WVU to do more work on medical imaging. While there he expanded on the ideas of the RatCAP and built a prototype wearable PET brain imager for humans. 

“A mobile brain imaging tool has applications in psychology research and clinical uses,” Majewski said. “You could do bedside imaging of epilepsy, for example, and watch what happens in the brain during a seizure.”

Majewski’s “Helmet_PET” prototype, patented in 2011, used silicon photomultipliers—a newer, similarly compact but more efficient photodetector than the avalanche photodiodes used in RatCAP.

“Stan saw the potential in the RatCAP and took it further,” said Woody.

The patent drawing of the prototype was sitting on Majewski’s desk at WVU when Brefczynski-Lewis, a neuroscientist, walked in. The drawing of a helmet-shaped detector on an upright person caught her attention.

“I had always been bothered by this middle zone of the brain you couldn’t reach with other imaging technologies,” she said. “With electroencephalography (EEG) you can’t reach deep brain structures, but with PET and MRI you can’t have motion. I thought Stan’s device could fill this niche.”

After building the first prototype at WVU, the two scientists began using Helmet_PET to image the brains of volunteer patients. After Majewski transferred to the University of Virginia the team developed a newer model of the device, now known as AMPET. The current imaging cap is designed to scan a standing person and is attached to an overhead support, allowing for some motion.

AMPET bears great similarity to one of the first PET scanners [https://www.flickr.com/photos/brookhavenlab/3181807959/in/album-72157611796003039/] built at Brookhaven, nicknamed the “hair dryer.”

“The ideas have sort of come full circle,” said Schlyer. “What has changed is the technology that makes these devices possible.”

The AMPET team hopes to start developing a full-brain scanner soon—one that covers the entire head rather than examining a horizontal five-centimeter section, like the current ring.

Microdose has big potential

Because AMPET sits so close to the brain, it can “catch” more of the photons stemming from the radiotracers used in PET than larger scanners can. That means researchers can administer a lower dose of radioactive material and still get a good biological snapshot. Catching more signals also allows AMPET to create higher resolution images than regular PET.

But most importantly, PET scans allow researchers to see further into the body than other imaging tools. This lets AMPET reach deep neural structures while the research subjects are upright and moving.

“A lot of the important things that are going on with emotion, memory, and behavior are way deep in the center of the brain: the basal ganglia, hippocampus, amygdala,” Brefczynski-Lewis said.

From a psychologist’s or neuroscientist’s perspective, AMPET could open doors to a variety of experiments, from exploring the brain’s reactions to different environments to the mechanisms involved in arguing or being in love.

Brefczynski-Lewis described ways to use AMPET to study the brain activity that underlies emotion. “Currently we are doing tests to validate the use of virtual reality environments in future experiments,” she said. In this “virtual reality,” volunteers would read from a script designed to make the subject angry, for example, as his or her brain is scanned.

In the medical sphere, the scanning helmet could help explain what happens during drug treatments, or shed light on movement disorders.

“There is a sub-population of Parkinson’s patients who have great difficulty walking, but can ride a bicycle with ease and without hesitation,” said Schlyer, who is also an adjunct professor in the Radiology department at Weill Cornell Medical College, where he studies Parkinson’s. “What is going on in their brains that makes these two activities so different? With this device we could monitor regional brain activation as patients walk and bike, and potentially answer that question.”

Brefczynski-Lewis noted, “We have successfully imaged the brain of someone walking in place. Now we’re ready to build a laboratory-ready version. It’s been an exciting journey—uncovering the needs of different neuroscientists and developing this device that we hope will someday meet those needs, and help in our quest to understand the brain.”

The RatCAP project at Brookhaven was funded by the DOE Office of Science. RHIC is a DOE Office of Science User Facility for nuclear physics research.

 

SIDEBAR: HOW PET WORKS

A patient or animal about to undergo a PET scan is injected with a low dose of a radiotracer—a radioactive form of a molecule that is regularly used in the body. One commonly used tracer is 18FDG, a radioactive version of glucose developed by Brookhaven scientists Joanna Fowler and Al Wolf in 1978. These molecules emit anti-matter particles called positrons, which then manage to only travel a tiny distance through the body. As soon as one of these positrons meets an electron in biological tissue, the pair annihilates and converts their mass to energy. This energy takes the form of two high-energy light rays, called gamma photons, that shoot off in opposite directions. PET machines detect these photons and track their paths backward to their point of origin—the tracer molecule. By measuring levels of 18FDG tracer, for instance, doctors can map areas of high metabolic activity. Mapping of different tracers helps researchers gain insight into different aspects of a patient’s health.

 

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.