INL's Gus Caffrey demystifies chemical warfare agents.INL physicist probes dangers using gamma rays

Ask A.J. "Gus" Caffrey about his work and you'll get a short history of U.S. chemical warfare agents. The physicist is as passionate about history as he is about his own research, but the military's past is relevant since his signature technology helps demystify it.

At DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory, Caffrey has focused most of his career on “the assessment of dangerous things you’d rather not open.”

In 1992, Caffrey received an R&D 100 Award for inventing a device used around the world today to nondestructively discern the contents of munitions that may contain chemical agents, explosives or other materials. A newer invention that can check the contents of used fuel casks aspires to a similar fate.

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PPPL contributors to ITER include physicists, engineers, technicians, procurement representatives and finance and quality assurance personnel, among others.PPPL teams support the world’s largest fusion experiment with leading-edge ideas and design

DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a key contributor to ITER, a huge international fusion facility under construction in Cadarache, France. ITER is designed to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power by the late 2020s.

PPPL provides hardware, fabrication and research and development for ITER under contract to US ITER, a DOE Office of Science project managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The United States participates in ITER together with China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea and Russia. “It is very exciting to work on such a challenging global science project with the potential for so great a global payoff,” said PPPL physicist Dave Johnson, who heads the development of diagnostic tools for US ITER.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 391  |
  • June 24, 2013
  • New all-solid sulfur-based battery outperforms lithium-ion technology

    Chengdu Liang led an ORNL team that has developed a new all-solid lithium-sulfur battery. Scientists at the DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have designed and tested an all-solid lithium-sulfur battery with approximately four times the energy density of conventional lithium-ion technologies that power today's electronics.

    The ORNL battery design, which uses abundant low-cost elemental sulfur, also addresses flammability concerns experienced by other chemistries.

    "Our approach is a complete change from the current battery concept of two electrodes joined by a liquid electrolyte, which has been used over the last 150 to 200 years," said Chengdu Liang, lead author on the ORNL study published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

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  • Weapons testing data determines brain makes new neurons into adulthood

    Image courtesy NIH Using data derived from nuclear weapons testing of the 1950s and '60s, Lawrence Livermore scientists have found that a small portion of the human brain involved in memory makes new neurons well into adulthood.

    The research may have profound impacts on human behavior and mental health. The study supports the importance of investigating the therapeutic potential of applying adult neurogenesis to the treatment of age-related cognitive disorders.

    Neurogenesis is the process by which neurons are generated from neural stem and progenitor cells and, until now, were believed to be most active during pre-natal development.

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  • “Armored” alga’s dual role in the carbon cycle

    Scanning electron micrograph of a single Ehux cell. Ehux is an example of a coccolithophore. (Jeremy Young)Towering structures that mark the point at which England is closest to continental Europe, the chalky white cliffs of Dover are built from the exoskeletons of single-celled photosynthetic alga known as Emiliania huxleyi. Even though the process by which the alga’s “armor” forms releases carbon dioxide, Ehux can trap as much as 20 percent of organic carbon, derived from CO2, in some marine ecosystems. Its versatility in either contributing to primary production of organic compounds from carbon dioxide or adding to CO2 emissions makes Ehux a critical player in the marine carbon cycle.

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  • NETL studies unique properties of quantum alloys

    Structure of a Quantum Alloy: The top illustrations depict how 13 Au atoms forming an icosohedron “core” bond with sulfur and gold atoms in a “shell” to form the Au25 catalyst for CO2 remediation. The bottom illustration shows how 3 of the Au atoms in the shell can be replaced with Ag to form the Au22Ag3 quantum alloy. When common household metals, such as copper, gold, or silver, are reduced in size to clusters that consist of a few dozen atoms, the materials develop completely unexpected properties.  One example occurs for gold, which is inert in its bulk form, but which develops the ability to efficiently catalyze chemical reactions when made as atomic-scale clusters that are over 1,000 times smaller than a human hair and invisible to the eye.  These properties result from quantum confinement effects, a term scientists use to describe how small clusters and particles evolve with size.  Quantum effects are the principal driving force behind the field of nanotechnology, where engineers manipulate the colors, electrical conductivity, and chemistry of matter simply by controlling and constraining size at the atomic scale. 

    Researchers at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory have been using quantum effects to design radical new catalysts capable of converting CO2 emissions into fuels, chemicals, and plastics.  Their unique discovery involves shrinking gold into a system consisting of just 25 atoms, commonly referred to as Au25.

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