FNAL's Kaori Maeshima

Kaori Maeshima

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 Number 256

March 10, 2008 

Thin film solar cell record set

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory set a new record of 19.9 percent for total area efficiency in a copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film solar cell. Solar cell efficiency is the percentage of power converted from sunlight into electricity. The cell was made using a "three-stage" co-evaporation process with a slight modification to the CIGS absorber. The record resulted from a higher fill factor, a parameter that determines the maximum power from a solar cell. The new record could serve as the benchmark for a variety of deposition processes for building thin-film solar cells.

[Stacie Oulton, 303/275-3891,]

Protein biomarkers may predict type 1 diabetes

Researchers used the spectroscopy resources located in EMSL and a protein-counting system developed at PNNL to identify candidate biomarkers for type 1 diabetes.
Researchers used the spectroscopy resources located in EMSL and a protein-counting system developed at PNNL to identify candidate biomarkers for type 1 diabetes.

Five protein biomarkers that potentially could be used to predict type 1 diabetes have been identified by a research team from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their results were published and highlighted in the February 2008 Journal of Proteome Research. The team analyzed the plasma proteomes of 10 healthy individuals and 10 patients recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. "We're looking for biomarkers that could be used to determine who is at risk for developing type 1 diabetes down the road," said PNNL scientist Tom Metz. The researchers are conducting follow-up studies with more samples to determine if the proteins are predictive or diagnostic of type 1 diabetes. The work was conducted in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a national scientific user facility located at PNNL and sponsored by DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research.

[Staci West, 509/372-6313,

Research suggests cement plugs will resist degradation by CO2

Barbara Kutchko uses a series of high-pressure vessels manufactured specifically for NETL's Geologic Sequestration Core Flow Laboratory.
Barbara Kutchko uses a series of high-pressure vessels manufactured specifically
for NETL's Geologic Sequestration Core Flow Laboratory.

The cement used to install and/or plug existing wells is critical in preventing leakage of CO2 to the surface in geologic sequestration. NETL has conducted laboratory experiments to determine the risk of storage loss due to chemical reaction between CO2 and cement. NETL research shows that imperfections in the cement can lead to significant risk to storage integrity, but chemical degradation of cement is unlikely to be extensive enough to present a significant risk to storage integrity of CO2in geologic sequestration. The results agreed with samples from an enhanced oil recovery site exposed to CO2 for 30 years.

[Linda Morton, 304/285-4543,]

2007 freeze shows paradox in climate change

A freeze-damaged oak.
A freeze-damaged oak.

A hard, late freeze that struck the eastern United States nearly a year ago illustrates a paradox of climate change, according to researchers at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The "Easter freeze" of April 5-9, 2007, caught crops and trees in their early, vulnerable stages of flowering and leaf production that was brought on by weeks of unusually balmy weather. The record warm March was as much to blame as the April freeze for damage, researchers said, which illustrates a threat climate change poses to plants and crops, including long-term effects on forest carbon uptake. The study was published recently in the journal BioScience.

[Bill Cabage, 685/574-4399,]


Remote operations bring
LHC to the U.S.

Kaori Maeshima
Kaori Maeshima

In mid-2008, the Large Hadron Collider at the European laboratory CERN will accelerate its first beam of protons, ringing in a new era in particle physics research. From extra dimensions of space-time to the nature of dark matter to the origin of mass, scientists expect that the LHC will provide answers to some of the greatest mysteries in science.

Kaori Maeshima, of the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, has worked on the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at the LHC for many years. In January, the U.S. CMS collaboration appointed Maeshima as its Operations Coord/inator.

"The CMS detector parts have been built in many different places in the world and brought together to the CMS experimental hall. Now is the time to learn how to operate CMS as one experiment," she said. More than 1,000 scientists from 93 U.S. universities and national laboratories have contributed to the construction of the LHC and its six experiments.

Maeshima has helped to establish the LHC Physics Center at Fermilab. In her new role she works closely with the commissioning team at CERN to get the CMS experiment ready for recording collisions. Fortunately, she and her colleagues in the United States can carry out much of their work without having to travel to Europe . From Fermilab's Remote Operations Center they can monitor the status of the LHC accelerator and the CMS experiment in real time.

Prior to working on the CMS operation, Maeshima led the design and operation of the online monitoring system of another particle physics experiment, the Collider Detector at Fermilab. Her CDF experience has been extremely valuable for her CMS work, she said.

Maeshima's goal for her new job is simple. She wants to make the remote monitoring operation from Fermilab seamless and as good as the one from the CMS control room at CERN. She expects that Fermilab's Remote Operations Center will be a prime location for scientists to witness the first LHC collisions later this year.

"I'm looking forward to working with everyone,” she said. “This is a very exciting time in particle physics.”

Submitted by DOE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory



Check out the joint Fermilab/SLAC publication symmetry.


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The march of the
carbon nanotubes

The work of Anders Nilsson (left) and Anton Nikitin might pave future directions for alternative energy research.
The work of Anders Nilsson (left) and Anton Nikitin might pave future directions for alternative energy research.

Researchers at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, located at DOE's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, have surpassed by a surprising margin the Department of Energy's goal for storing hydrogen within a unique material called carbon nanotubes. The pioneering result, published in the American Chemical Society's Nano Letters, brings us one step closer to realizing hydrogen as a source of energy.

"We are trying to find a way to make hydrogen-power affordable," graduate student Anton Nikitin said. "Current vehicle prototypes cost over two million dollars. Sustainable developments will rise only from examining this problem piece by piece."

Hydrogen—the most abundant element in the universe—is an attractive carrier of renewable energy. It can be used in fuel cells to produce electricity, with the only byproduct being water. However, developing safe and efficient methods of storing hydrogen remains a challenge.

Current methods for storing hydrogen are expensive and inefficient. Storing hydrogen in tanks made from costly composite materials requires dangerously high pressures of up to 10,000 pounds per square inch. Compressing hydrogen is expensive, and the energy required outweighs the benefits.

Nikitin and his colleagues were able to pack seven percent by weight hydrogen into carbon nanotubes through the formation of bonds with carbon atoms. The chemically grown nanotubes are made of pure carbon and have walls a single atom thick. Because single-walled nanotubes are essentially all surface area, they can theoretically store an enormous proportion of hydrogen, making it a promising storage medium.

Demand for carbon nanotubes—in fields ranging from electronics to medicine—adds to the excitement surrounding this material, but don't expect hydrogen energy to appear overnight. Associate Professor Anders Nilsson estimates that it will be 20 years before all of the pieces come together.

The world is possibly facing the biggest challenge of modern civilization," Nilsson said, "and science plays a pivotal role in developing a long-term solution."

Submitted by DOE's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

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