Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Larisa M. Brass ()
Communications and External Relations


ORNL partnership reaches across Atlantic

ORNL Director Thom Mason signs the memorandum of understanding during a visit to the Imperial College of London for the launch of the Global Lab. In the background are Oak Ridge officials looking on via teleconference from ORNL.
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 11, 2007 — Scientists in London will be able to use and manipulate, in real-time, leading multi-million dollar scientific instruments and technology in the United States, following this week's official launch of the Global Lab at Imperial College London.

The launch was attended by Ian Pearson, British Minister of State for Science and Innovation and Sir Keith O'Nions, Director General of Science and Innovation for the United Kingdom's Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), as well as Thom Mason, Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The Global Lab has been established as part of the AtlanTICC Alliance, a sustainable energy research consortium comprising Imperial College London, Georgia Institute of Technology and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The AtlanTICC Alliance was established four years ago as part of a $3 million grant to support research collaborations between Imperial and leading US research organizations on energy sources and the treatment of cancer. This grant was made by the UK Government's Office of Science and Innovation, which is now part of DIUS.

The AtlanTICC Alliance has also recently established a unique UK-USA framework agreement between the three partner organizations to facilitate open and collaborative working with joint research and development teams.

The Global Lab links together laboratories in the UK and the US via high bandwidth/low latency network, the Lambda Rail, running across the Atlantic seabed. The Lambda Rail can move vast amounts of data virtually instantaneously across thousands of miles. AtlanTICC scientists have already shown that they can simultaneously manipulate complex equipment in the US, and talk to each other on the Lambda Rail via video link-up, without the time-delay and low resolution usually associated with such long-range communications. All three institutions involved are now exploring how to use this data rich, high-speed communications tool to share ideas and research through international seminars and lectures.

As an example of the Global Lab in action, the Minister controlled and manipulated, from London, one of the world's leading electron microscopes at Oak Ridge, the JEOL 2200FS Aberration Corrected Electron Microscope (ACEM). In this extremely powerful microscope, electrons are focused into a probe that is less than 0.0.1nm in diameter, which is less than the length of a typical chemical bond. By scanning this probe across a sample, it is possible to analyze individual atoms.

There are only a small number of such machines worldwide that provide scientists with true atomic-scale resolution. Imperial researchers will now be able to access this technology to carry out important research into alternatives to fossil fuels - such as the next generation of low-cost solar power cells, advanced fuel cells and innovative biofuels - in collaboration with their colleagues in America.

The AtlanTICC Alliance event at Imperial's South Kensington campus in central London began with a video conference outlining the AtlanTICC Alliance's aims and research goals, including live input from all three institutions. The Minister then saw the Global Lab in action, and was able to use the equipment at Imperial to image the atomic-structure of an exciting new type of super-lattice structure for use in fuel cell devices using the ACEM at Oak Ridge.

Imperial's Dr. Tariq Ali, Director of the AtlanTICC Alliance, said: "The Global Lab link will be an invaluable tool for scientists from all three institutions involved in the Alliance. Remote use of state-of-the art apparatus such as the ACEM will mean that our scientists can share ideas, experiments and data towards developing new 'green' fuels and energy alternatives without the need for costly and environmentally-damaging long haul international flights."

Ian Pearson, Minister of State for Science and Innovation, said: "This project demonstrates the importance of international collaboration in modern scientific research. Major scientific projects will frequently require researchers from different nations to work together. The UK already has a very good record on collaboration with researchers in other countries and I am pleased that the DIUS has been able to support this project through our $12 million UK-US Science Bridges initiative."

Thom Mason, Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory said: "We were pleased to join our partners, Imperial College London and Georgia Institute of Technology, in the demonstration and in the long-term pursuit of answers to global energy problems. Technology allows us to share resources and communicate science with collaborators, whether they are a few miles down the road or across an ocean. We believe that this kind of joint research brings together the strengths of our institutions in ways that will benefit us all."

Charles Liotta, Regents Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, added: "The AtlanTICC Alliance is a unique partnership between a leading research university in the United States, the leading technical university in the United Kingdom, and the largest energy lab in the United States to collaborate on global energy issues and solve energy challenges."

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.