Brookhaven's Joseph P. Indusi

Brookhaven's Joseph P. Indusi

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R&D 100 Awards
DOE-funded projects at 11 laboratories across the nation win 35 R&D 100 awards.


 Number 143 October 13, 2003 

Novel manufacturing process developed for thin-film solar cells

A researcher at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has developed a novel process for producing lower cost thin-film cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells with a confirmed 14 percent efficiency. In conventional thin-film manufacture, semiconductor materials are layered between glass and a back contact and heated several times to high temperatures. The new process has only one heat-up period and includes two techniques developed at NREL that have the potential to increase performance. Further, the reduced temperature in the NREL process allows the use of inexpensive soda-lime glass, which has a low softening point.

[Sarah Barba, 303/275-3023;]

Training class instructs U.S. border inspectors on weapons detection

Customs agents use radiation detectors to check a small sample of uranium during a mock exercise.
Customs agents use radiation detectors to check a small sample of uranium during a mock exercise in which the agents interviewed a suspicious man trying to cross the border and searched his vehicle. The uranium ingot was found hidden in an emergency light.

Scientists at DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are training U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors to identify and halt smuggling of weapons of mass destruction during three-day training courses in Richland, Wash. About 25 inspectors participate in each course and nearly 400 CBP officers have completed the training program, which just began its second year. U.S. border inspectors receive comprehensive training to detect, identify, interdict and investigate the illicit movement of materials, commodities and components associated with the development or deployment of weapons of mass destruction. The course curriculum includes classroom instruction, as well as hands-on demonstrations and exercises designed to familiarize inspectors with the materials and components associated with weapons of mass destruction and dual-use items. PNNL and the CBP share instructional responsibilities, while the National Nuclear Security Administration funds the training.

[Staci Maloof, 509/372-6313;]

TeraGrid to link with Oak Ridge neutron science facilities

SETENS: A Southeast TeraGrid extension for neutron sciences
SETENS: A Southeast TeraGrid extension for neutron sciences (click image for larger view)
Researchers from around the nation will have access to data from DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory neutron science facilities because of a $3.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant to ORNL's Center for Computational Sciences will fund a network hub and high-performance network connections to the TeraGrid, which when complete will operate at 40 gigabits per second and be the fastest research network in the world. The TeraGrid will provide scientists extraordinary amounts of data from ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor and the Spallation Neutron Source. Grant collaborators were the University of Tennessee, Georgia Institute of Technology, Duke University, Florida State University, North Carolina State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and University of Virginia.

[Ron Walli, 865/576-0226;]

Berkeley Lab far infrared detectors in orbit

NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF)
NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF)

DOE's Berkeley Lab researchers Eugene Haller and Jeffrey Beeman developed and helped fabricate two of the far infrared radiation detector arrays aboard NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), which is now in orbit around Earth. SIRTF is designed to capture images of previously hidden celestial objects and phenomenon. The germanium crystals doped with gallium that Haller and Beeman developed are far and away the most sensitive detectors of far infrared radiation ever to be sent into space. They will be especially useful for studying the history of early star formation and the evolution of galaxies and planetary systems.

[Lynn Yarris, 510/486-5375;]

Ductile intermetallics discovered

yag button
A button of yttrium-silver dented by repeated hammer blows

Intermetallic compounds have long been known to possess chemical, physical, electrical, magnetic and mechanical properties that are often superior to ordinary metals. But their potential has gone untapped because they are typically quite brittle at room temperature. Now researchers at DOE's Ames Laboratory have identified 12 fully ordered, completely stoichiometric intermetallic compounds that are ductile at room temperature. The discovery, announced in an article in the September issue of Nature Materials, could make these promising materials more useful. The study, led by senior metallurgist Karl Gschneidner, Jr. and associate scientist Alan Russell, has focused on yttrium-silver, yttrium-copper, and dysprosium-copper, but a preliminary examination of other rare earth compounds showed that they are also ductile.

[Kerry Gibson, 515/294-1405;]

Female physicists lead the way on Jefferson Lab experiment

A recent physics experiment at the DOE's Jefferson Lab set a new Jefferson Lab record: the most female scientists on an experiment. The experiment, which ended in July, boasts two spokeswomen. A female postdoctoral fellow is overseeing data analysis. The research is central to a female graduate student's doctoral thesis. And the majority of scientists working shifts during the experiment were women, many of them undergraduate physics students. Cynthia Keppel, a Hampton University professor and experiment co-spokesperson, attributes the female majority to what she calls "the best reasons, a change of gender climate and good science." Keppel believes that once the field starts having enough women around, physics experiments run by women will eventually become commonplace.

[Debbie Magaldi, 757/269-5102;]

Brookhaven's Indusi champions homeland security and classic Buicks

Joseph P. Indusi
Joseph P. Indusi

Joseph P. Indusi, chair of the Nonproliferation and National Security Department at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory, is vigilant about assessing risks to national security in the post 9/11/01 era. But it was the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center a decade ago that shifted the focus of his department.

"Since 1993, we have been focusing more of our efforts on anti-terrorism initiatives," Indusi said. "Recently, we have been working with the Department of Homeland Security to test and evaluate radiation detectors for use in the New York metropolitan area. We also are developing advanced radiation detectors that can be used to trace radiation from devices such as dirty bombs. The department has also been part of a team conducting vulnerability and risk assessments at critical infrastructure facilities in New York State."

Indusi's department provides technical assistance to promote enhanced safeguards and security systems for the protection and accountability of weapons-grade nuclear materials, in cooperation with Russian nuclear facilities. It also develops safeguards systems and arms control verification technology to stem the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. To support nonproliferation of these weapons, the department provides non-weapons related jobs to Russian weapons scientists in their homeland.

Further, the department provides technical oversight of projects designed to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards, and it addresses the environmental and proliferation concerns associated with dismantling Russian nuclear submarines. "I've been entrusted with a job at Brookhaven that is extremely important for the safety of the nation and the world," Indusi said. "I take that role very seriously, and I believe that my staff of about 40 experts and I perform it very well."

Indusi in a rebuilt classic Buick.

To unwind from work on national security issues in his leisure time, Indusi enjoys rebuilding classic Buicks. He owns a 1948 Buick Special Two-Door Sedanet, which he restored to showroom condition. He is currently restoring a recently acquired 1953 Buick Special 2-door hardtop. Also, he has had several articles published in The Bugle, Buick Club of America's newsletter.

Submitted by DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory

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SSRL scientists gain insight into blocking anthrax, other diseases

The molecules dUMP and FAD.
The molecules dUMP and FAD attach in different ways to the binding site of the TSCP enzyme (left), where dUMP is chemically converted into dTMP (a part of DNA necessary for cell replication). If an inhibitor blocks the binding site (right), dUMP and FAD cannot attach and dTMP cannot be made and the cell cannot in theory reproduce.

Scientists at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) operated at DOE's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center have found an Achilles heel in the brutal diseases anthrax, botulism, syphilis, diarrhea and Lyme disease.

These single-celled disease organisms need a protein called thymidylate synthase complementing protein (TSCP) to replicate. TSCP is an enzyme, a type of protein that catalyzes chemical changes in the molecules that bind to it without changing itself. SSRL's concentrated X-rays revealed the 3-D structure and function of this protein, which has enabled researchers to create a computer model of a molecule that could block it and thus the organisms that rely on it to survive. The research was a cooperative effort with the Joint Center for Structural Genomics.

"The unique structure of the TSCP enzyme and its discovery last year in numerous pathogenic organisms provide an exciting opportunity for drug design," said Irimpan Mathews, a protein crystallographer at SSRL. The data was published in the June issue of Structure.

Mathews and his colleagues determined the key binding sites where small molecules attach to TSCP. TSCP converts a molecule called dUMP into dTMP, an essential part of DNA necessary for cells to replicate. The researchers also found that all known members of this enzyme family share the same structure at their core. This commonality allows one drug to potentially inhibit the activity of all TSCPs—and therefore stop the replication of many disease-causing organisms.

The TSCP binding site has anchorages for the molecules dUMP, FAD, and a third small molecule. Although each molecule has a different shape, it fits snugly into its attachment area, the way different computer cables—modem, power, USB—have a corresponding port to plug into. The computer model of an inhibitor designed by Mathews and his colleagues is shaped to plug up the attachment areas of both dUMP and FAD in order to thwart the chemical reaction and thus prevent cell reproduction. For more information, see

Submitted by DOE's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

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