Portrait Jun Liu PNNL materials scientist focuses on the depth of field

Surrounded by white walls, a whiteboard, and standard-issue bland office furniture, Dr. Jun Liu of DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory contemplates a collection of his desert photos lining one office wall. Holding the broad desert southeastern Washington State landscape in focus, the composition directs his eye to a particular bolt of color or detail in the foreground. Keeping the big picture in perspective is nothing unusual for Liu. In addition to focusing a camera lens on desert charms, he is a soft-spoken materials scientist with an intense and compelling vision for the nation’s future. His wide angle view, evident in his photographs, is essential for determining how science can help meet the world’s growing needs for energy, hungry for the juice to power billions of cars, homes, and industries.

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Meiring Nortier examines a thorium target foil.Experiment could provide source of critical medical isotope

A medical isotope project at DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory shows promise for rapidly producing major quantities of a new cancer-treatment agent, actinium 225 (Ac-225).

Using proton beams, Los Alamos and its partner Brookhaven National Laboratory could match current annual worldwide production of the isotope in just a few days, solving critical shortages of this therapeutic isotope that attacks cancer cells. A collaboration between Los Alamos, Brookhaven, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories is developing a plan for full-scale production and stable supply of Ac-225.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 367  |
  • July 16, 2012
  • LLNL’s Sequoia fastest high performance computer

    Sequoia – located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – is the world's fastest high performance computing system on the international ranking. The Sequoia may be considered the largest tree in the world, but now the name Sequoia invokes a giant capability in high performance computing.

    Sequoia – located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) – is the world's fastest high performance computing system on the international ranking, it was announced at the 2012  International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Hamburg, Germany in June.

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  • First detailed images of airborne soot show surprising complexity

    Diffraction pattern of a single soot particle. (Image by Duane Loh et al) You may not be able to see them, but tiny airborne particles are everywhere. Tens of millions of kilograms of the smallest particles, known as PM2.5, float over a typical big city in the form of soot, smog, cloud droplets, sea spray and the like. Some types cause health problems when they get into human lungs, while others influence climate by interacting with sunlight.

    Now researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have captured the most detailed images to date of airborne soot particles, which turn out to have surprisingly complex nanostructures. The discovery could ultimately aid the understanding of atmospheric processes important to climate change, as well as the design of cleaner combustion sources, from car engines to power plants.

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  • Jaguar calculations map the nuclear landscape

    This image represents the nuclear landscape, with isotopes arranged by an increasing number of protons (up) and neutrons (right). The dark blue blocks represent stable isotopes.

    An team from DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee has used DOE's Jaguar supercomputer to calculate the number of isotopes allowed by the laws of physics. The team, led by Witek Nazarewicz, used a quantum approach known as density functional theory, applying it independently to six leading models of the nuclear interaction to determine that there are about 7,000 possible combinations of protons and neutrons allowed in bound nuclei with up to 120 protons (a hypothetical element called "unbinilium").

    Most of these nuclei have not been observed experimentally.

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  • Colorful light at the end of the tunnel for radiation detection

    Sandia researchers Patrick Doty, Patrick Feng, and Mark Allendorf (L to R) have created a new type of scintillator using metal organic framework or plastic scintillator hosts combined with heavy metal dopants, shown in Doty’s hand. This material enables detection of neutrons using spectral- or pulse-shape discrimination techniques that could transform radiation detection (photo by Dino Vournas).

    Sandia seeks commercialization partners for promising “spectral shape discrimination” technology

    A team of nanomaterials researchers at Sandia National Laboratories has developed a new technique that could make radiation detection in cargo and baggage more effective and less costly for homeland security inspectors.

    Known as spectral shape discrimination, the method takes advantage of a new class of nanoporous materials known as metal-organic frameworks. Researchers discovered that adding a doping agent to an MOF leads to the emission of red and blue light when the MOF interacts with high-energy particles emanated from radiological or nuclear material, enabling more effective detection of neutrons. Neutron detection is currently a costly and technically challenging endeavor due to the difficulty in distinguishing neutrons from ubiquitous background gamma rays.

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