Patrizia Rossi, Jefferson Lab Deputy Associate Director for Nuclear Physics. Patrizia Rossi kindles passion for life, physics

Talking with Patrizia Rossi, the new deputy associate director for nuclear physics at DOE's Jefferson Lab, is as much a discussion about life as it is about physics.

Although she had been involved in research at Jefferson Lab since 1993, her new position has afforded her the opportunity to become a much more involved member of the laboratory community, something that she is embracing with her characteristic passion.

"I believe that it is important to start from each instant in your life, to accept every challenge that life presents to you," Rossi notes.

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When airborne particles (green) form before pollutants known as PAHs (yellow) glob on, the pollutants dissipate quickly, as shown in the top row. But when the particles form in the presence of pollutants, which is what likely happens in nature, the long-lasting particles can take the pollutants for a long-distance ride (bottom).Pollution hitches ride to Arctic

Toxic pollutants regulated by environmental agencies and produced by fossil fuel and biomass burning reach all the way to the Arctic, even though they should decay long before they travel that far, and now scientists at DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Imre Consulting, and the University of Washington know how the pollutants make the lofty journey. The team found that atmospherically abundant, carbon-based secondary organic aerosols, or SOAs, allow toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, to tuck inside, providing a vehicle for the pollution's journey to the Arctic. In a one-two punch, the research shows that the PAHs and the SOAs last longer when the pollutants hitch a ride.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 379  |
  • January 7, 2012
  • Plant architecture puzzle solved with unique imaging technology

    Principal investigator Shi-You Ding. Scientists at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory used a unique combination of imaging methods to gain unprecedented insight into the structure of cell walls in plants, a breakthrough that could lead to optimizing sugar yields and lowering costs of making biofuels.

    Principal investigator Shi-You Ding and his team found that the gummy, non-sugar lignin in plants interferes with enzymes’ ability to access the polysaccharides in the cell wall – the stuff that both the enzymes and the industry want.

    So, the NREL team concluded, the ideal pre-treatment of plants for biofuels should focus on getting rid of the lignin, but leaving the valuable polysaccharides within the cell walls intact. That would leave a loose, porous structure that affords enzymes easy access. And, it would be an improvement over pretreatments that remove some of the spongier carbohydrate polymers and allow the remainder to collapse into tighter structures that are tougher for enzymes to access.

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  • Aerodynamic levitator allows samples to 'float on air'

    A metal oxide drop levitated in a flow of high-purity argon gas. The sample is being heated from above with a laser beam that can heat it more than 2500 degrees centigrade. The sample is held in a special "levitation nozzle" installed in the NOMAD beam line. To study liquids and glasses, a collaborating team from Materials Development Inc.; Stony Brook University in New York; and DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory  and Argonne National Laboratory has developed a container-less sample environment, in which a drop of pure liquid literally “floats” on a jet of flowing gas.

    This aerodynamic levitator sample environment has been installed on the Nanoscale-Ordered Materials Diffractometer (NOMAD) at the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL. There, the research team is using it to study small drops of liquids such as calcium, magnesium, and aluminum silicates.

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  • Research reveals potential for producing liquid fuels using microalgae

    Algae biodiesel.
    Due to continuing high demand, depletion of non-renewable resources and increasing concerns about climate change, fossil fuel-derived transportation fuels face constant challenges from both a world market and an environmental perspective. Producing renewable transportation fuel from microalgae attracts much attention because of its potential for fast growth rates, high oil content, ability to grow in unconventional scenarios, and its inherent carbon neutrality.

    Microalgae are microscopic, single-cell organisms that exist in fresh water and marine environments and also at the bottom of the food chain. Under optimal conditions, microalgae can be grown in massive, almost limitless, amounts. Almost half of microalgae’s weight is lipid oil. Scientists have been studying this oil for decades to convert it into biodiesel – a fuel that burns cleaner and more efficiently than petroleum. Moreover, the use of microalgae would minimize "food versus fuel" concerns associated with several biomass strategies, as microalgae do not compete with food crops in the food chain.

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