Carol Giometti (right)

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 Number 158 May 17, 2004 

From top quarks to the blues
This microphotograph of the grooves in a 78 r.p.m. shellac phonograph record was taken with an electronic camera. The audio data is encoded in the side-to-side modulation of the groove trajectory.
This microphotograph of the grooves in a 78 r.p.m. shellac phonograph record was taken with an electronic camera. The audio data is encoded in the side-to-side modulation of the groove trajectory.

The 1995 discovery of the top quark and singer Marian Anderson's 1947 rendition of Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen may seem unrelated. But through an interagency agreement with the Library of Congress, the same technology used to study subatomic particles is helping to restore and preserve the sounds of yesteryear. “We developed a way to image the grooves in a recording that is similar to measuring tracks in a particle detector,” says Carl Haber, a senior scientist in DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Physics Division who developed the technology along with fellow Physics Division scientist Vitaliy Fadeyev. Their work could ultimately enable the Library of Congress to digitize the thousands of blues, classical, Dixie , jazz, and spoken word recordings in its archives. The mass digitization of these aging discs and cylinders will both preserve the nation's musical history and make it accessible to a wide audience.

[Dan Krotz 510/486-4019,

INEEL helps Air Force lasso the wind

DOE's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory is helping install, test and integrate two new 900-kilowatt wind turbines into the power grid at a U.S. Air Force base that tracks NASA's down-range space launches from Ascension Island . These turbines, which supplement four existing small wind turbines, increase the renewable energy electric capacity to 2.7 megawatts, and further reduce air emissions and dependence on diesel generators. The turbines will save an additional 650,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year and will help power the island's desalination plant, providing 25 million gallons of fresh drinking water each year with “green” wind energy.

[Reuel Smith, 208/526-3733,]

PNNL on fast track for hydrogen fuel reformer

Researchers at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have demonstrated a compact steam reformer which can produce large amounts of hydrogen-rich gas from a liquid fuel in only 12 seconds. The development is an important step in bringing fuel cell-powered cars to the mass market. Instead of building a new infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations, researchers are looking at converting gasoline onboard the vehicle. One approach uses steam reforming, in which hydrocarbon fuel reacts with steam at high temperatures over a catalyst. Until now, this method has required drivers to wait about 15 minutes before they can leave the driveway or parking lot. This delay is unacceptable to drivers. But PNNL engineers have called upon their expertise in microtechnology to develop a fuel reformer technology that appears to have overcome a major stumbling block for onboard reformation: the need for speed.

[Susan Bauer, 509/375-3688,

CDF moves to the front with top quark data

CDF group

The CDF collaboration at DOE's Fermilab has submitted the first paper on top quark physics from data collected during Run II of the Tevatron. The measurement, of two leptons with large transverse momenta signaling the decay of the two W bosons produced in the decay of top and anti-top quark pairs, establishes a foundation for detailed comparisons of the properties of these events to the Standard Model as Run II continues. Scientists believe the unusually large mass of the top quark causes it to play a special role in our universe, and top dilepton events are particularly interesting to study with the higher statistics of Run II.

[Mike Perricone, 630/840-5678;]

Making connections with magnetic field reconnection

Scientists at DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory have proposed a new theory to explain the movement of vast energy fields in giant radio galaxies. They theorize that magnetic field reconnection may be responsible for the acceleration of relativistic electrons within large intergalactic volumes. The theory could be the basis for a whole new understanding of the ways in which cosmic rays—and their signature radio waves—propagate and travel through intergalactic space. A deeper understanding of the magnetic field reconnection mechanism could also have important applications here on Earth, such as the creation of a magnetic confinement system for fusion energy reactors.

[Todd A. Hanson, 505/665-2085;]

‘Abundant expression' boosts
protein research

Argonne biologist Carol Giometti describes a 2-dimensional electrophoresis protein separation experiment to Danielle Bennett, a visiting high school student. Giometti also works with university students in their research.
Argonne biologist Carol Giometti describes a 2-dimensional electrophoresis protein separation experiment to Danielle Bennett, a visiting high school student. Giometti also works with university students in their research.

When Leslie Woo needed to learn a new technique to complete her research for her doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Chicago, her advisor knew where to go—DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory.

Karen Frank, assistant professor of pathology and Woo’s dissertation advisor, called Carol Giometti, biologist at Argonne who is expert in two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, a technique that provides measurements on hundreds of proteins—“abundant protein expression,” in scientific parlance.

The technique, also called 2DE, is technically challenging and expensive to accomplish, and the tools needed are not often found on university campuses. But Argonne was one of the pioneers in the technique, which was developed nearly 30 years ago at the University of Colorado, and optimized at Argonne by Norman and Leigh Anderson, a father-and-son team of biologists who worked at Argonne in the 1970s and 1980s. Giometti was a post-doctoral researcher in the Andersons’ research lab, and has remained at Argonne doing protein research using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis since then.

The technique is a method of separating substances and analyzing molecular structure based on the rate of their movement in a colloidal suspension under the influence of an electric field. The analysis is detailed by the “expression” of the protein—how it manifests itself or its effects within an organism.

Two processes together—the University of Chicago’s new mass spectroscopy facility and Argonne’s electrophoresis—can be combined to produce large amounts of information on a range of proteins, helping with “protein mapping”—determining how all the complex organic compounds in any living creature link together to provide the structure and functioning of all cells.

The combined research is expected to lead to the biological discoveries necessary to fundamentally alter the future of medical care and human health.

Submitted by DOE's Argonne National Laboratory

DOE Pulse highlights work being done at the Department of Energy's national laboratories. DOE's laboratories house world-class facilities where more than 30,000 scientists and engineers perform cutting-edge research spanning DOE's science, energy, national security and environmental quality missions. DOE Pulse is distributed every two weeks. For more information, please contact Jeff Sherwood (jeff.sherwood
, 202-586-5806)

Center of Excellence to advance development of metal hydride materials for onboard hydrogen storage

Work toward a new class of materials capable of storing hydrogen safely and economically on board a vehicle took a step forward last month with the creation of the Metal Hydride virtual Center of Excellence (MHvCE). The center, led by DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories and involving four other national laboratories, eight universities, and three companies, will advance the study of reversible metal hydride materials, regarded as a promising technology for the development of lightweight, safe onboard hydrogen storage.

The center was one of three virtual Centers of Excellence announced last month by Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham to support President Bush's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. Other centers are led by Los Alamos National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Each center will take a different approach toward addressing the major technical barrier to onboard hydrogen storage: storing enough hydrogen to enable more than a 300-mile driving range without impacting cargo or passenger space. Storage is widely considered one of the most important hurdles for the commercial success of hydrogen as a clean fuel for use in vehicles because of weight, volume, and cost constraints.

Sandia will manage $30 million in reversible metal hydrides research over the next five years. Hydrides are metallic alloys that can absorb and then release hydrogen. Sandia researchers have developed a new class of hydrides called complex metal hydrides, which operate at pressures and temperatures that are close to ambient conditions.

"Our approach will be to focus on achieving or exceeding the DOE's hydrogen storage targets through novel materials development, supported by our strengths in fundamental and applied materials science," said Jim Wang, manager of Sandia's analytical materials science department.

Reversible metal hydrides have long been a strength of Sandia's materials research efforts. Just recently, Sandia researchers improved the operating conditions of lithium imides for hydrogen storage by partial substitution of lithium with magnesium. This new class of materials absorbs hydrogen reversibly in two steps, providing a total theoretical capacity of 10.8 weight percent. Current test results demonstrated 4.7 weight percent reversible hydrogen storage at about 30 atmospheric pressure and 200 ºC from the first step reaction alone. A patent application has been filed on the synthesis of the materials.

Wang said the team is exploring further improvements on lithium amide/imide or other similar materials for hydrogen storage capacity and operation conditions toward the DOE FreedomCAR goals.

The center will bring together scientists and institutions with strong capabilities in several research areas. Partnering with Sandia on the MHvCE are

Brookhaven National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
National Institute of Stands and Technology
University of Hawaii
University of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Mellon University
University of Nevada, Reno
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
University of Utah
California Institute of Technology
Stanford University
General Electric Global Research
HRL Laboratories

Submitted by DOE's Sandia National Laboratories

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