Richard Sayre Richard Sayre tackles biotech challenges at Los Alamos

Richard Sayre, one of the nation's top specialists in algae and energy-producing plant research, has joined the Bioscience Division of DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory to help boost cutting-edge research in this area. Cited by Nature magazine as "one of five crop researchers who could change the world," Sayre brings a crew of postdoctoral researchers and a range of funding to LANL.

"Bringing Dick to the Laboratory is a great success as we look to strategic hires to strengthen key capabilities," said Alan Bishop, principal associate director for Science, Technology, and Engineering at LANL. "Dick's enthusiasm and internationally recognized expertise will catalyze many new collaborations in bioscience and other fields to meet our energy security mission."

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For biofuel production, this study provides scientists with the information they need to better predict, manipulate and control the behaviors of atoms and pseudo-atoms.Mock atoms step up to the scale

When studying an atom’s behavior in different environments, scientists rely on electronegativity scales, which describe each atom’s ability to attract and repel electrons. But what about pseudo-atoms, a.k.a. those molecular fragments that behave like atoms by not changing much in various environments? Scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Heriot-Watt University in Scotland put the tetrahedral ammonium radical, made from a nitrogen atom and four hydrogen atoms, on the electronegativity scale. It has the same attractive force as potassium and the same size as a rubidium atom.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 356  |
  • February 13, 2012
  • Cutting corners to make superconductors work better

    Making superconducting nanocircuits with rounded corners will improve their performance. Making superconducting nanocircuits with rounded corners will improve their performance, according to John R. Clem, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, and Karl K. Berggren, an associate professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Clem and Berggren calculated the critical current in thin and narrow superconducting strips with sharp right-angle turns, 180-degree turnarounds, and more complicated geometries. They found that current crowding, which occurs at the inner corners when the current rounds sharp turns, significantly reduces the current where a voltage first appears, called the critical current. Rounded corners, according to Clem and Berggren, will significantly improve critical currents.

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  • Pioneering microscopic nuclear fuel examination

    The precautions necessary to protect workers make irradiated fuel sample preparation extremely challenging for researchers.

    New nuclear fuel designs have the potential to last longer and bolster safety margins. Nano-scale examination helps researchers understand how fuels perform under prolonged irradiation, but such information has been difficult to obtain. Until now.

    Researchers at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory have cleared a hurdle to examining irradiated fuel using a transmission electron microscope. This accomplishment has revealed behavior that suggests increased stability of a new type of reactor fuel. Further study and improvement in nuclear fuel performance are now much more attainable.

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  • A "natural" solution for transportation


    As the United States transitions away from a primarily petroleum-based transportation industry, a number of different alternative fuel sources-ethanol, biodiesel, electricity and hydrogen-have each shown their own promise. Hoping to expand the pool even further, researchers at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory have begun to investigate adding one more contender to the list of possible energy sources for light-duty cars and trucks: compressed natural gas (CNG).

    Compressed natural gas is composed primarily of methane, which when compressed occupies less than one percent of the volume it occupies at standard pressure. CNG is typically stored in cylindrical tanks that would be carried onboard the vehicles it fuels.

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  • Scientists build GPU cluster for subatomic calculations

    Fermilab’s Amitoj Singh and Don Holmgren examine one of the new GPUs used for lattice QCD calculations. Photo: Brad Hooker

    The latest addition to computing power at DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is a 45-teraflop cluster of graphics processing units that scientists use to explore the properties of the strong nuclear force. The GPU nodes power through data faster than any other computing nodes at more than five times the rate of the processing units of the previous generation.

    The cluster is part of a national project called USQCD. Quantum chromodynamics, or QCD, is the theory that explains the properties and behavior of quarks and gluons. Scientists compute the particles’ subatomic interaction, the strong nuclear force, using algorithms and techniques known as lattice QCD. The USQCD collaboration develops the software and hardware needed to meet the high demands of lattice QCD calculations, which require tens of thousands of processors.

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