- Number 354 |
- January 16, 2012
DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is getting an earlier-than-expected start on a $94 million, nearly three-year project as the next stage of its mission to chart an attractive course for the development of nuclear fusion as a clean, safe and abundant fuel for generating electricity.The project will upgrade the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) facility at PPPL, over the next 30 months, with completion slated for 2014. The work will enhance the position of the NSTX as the world’s most powerful spherical torus – or tokamak – a device that controls the superheated and electrically charged gases called plasmas that create fusion power.
When transporting a cell's valuable electrons, the common microbe Shewanella oneidensis only trusts stable, mature proteins, according to scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Immature proteins are broken down before they can take up the task. This degradation suggests that protein traffic to the environment beyond the microbe is tightly regulated.
Scientists at DOE’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a scientific partnership led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and including Sandia and Livermore National Labs, the University of California at Berkeley and Davis, and the Carnegie Institution for Science, have developed biochemical models and simulations similar to the computer-assisted design (CAD) programs used by engineers. The new CAD-like tools make it possible to construct RNA devices that can control genetic expression in microbes, with enormous potential for advanced biofuels, biodegradable plastics, therapeutic drugs, and a host of other goods now derived from petrochemicals.
The prospect of electronics at the nanoscale may be even more promising with the first observation of metallic conductance in ferroelectric nanodomains by researchers at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Ferroelectric materials, which switch their polarization with the application of an electric field, have long been used in devices such as ultrasound machines and sensors. Now, discoveries about ferroelectrics' electronic properties are opening up possibilities of applications in nanoscale electronics and information storage.