Sandia’s Nancy JacksonSandia’s Nancy Jackson helps keep chemicals in safe hands

Nancy Jackson, a chemical engineer at DOE's Sandia National Laboratories, is part of a team that partners with chemistry labs around the world to ensure chemicals are handled safely and securely.

In 2007, Jackson helped the U.S. Department of State create the Chemical Security Engagement Program, and closely works with scientists worldwide, particularly in developing countries, to promote safe use of chemicals and keep them from falling into the wrong hands. She is the manager of Sandia’s International Chemical Threat Reduction program, and her work has led to crucial programs to help laboratories in some of the world’s most volatile regions manage their chemical inventories and secure their chemicals, as well as train future chemists and laboratory trainers in safe handling techniques.

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RHIC’s detectors can pick up the fluctuations in excesses of certain particles produced from collision to collision, which are likely signatures of the transition.Supercomputing the transition from ordinary to extraordinary forms of matter

To get a better understanding of the subatomic soup that filled the early universe, and how it “froze out” to form the atoms of today’s world, scientists are taking a closer look at the nuclear phase diagram. Like a map that describes how the physical state of water morphs from solid ice to liquid to steam with changes in temperature and pressure, the nuclear phase diagram maps out different phases of the components of atomic nuclei—from the free quarks and gluons that existed at the dawn of time to the clusters of protons and neutrons that make up the cores of atoms today.

But “melting” atoms and their subatomic building blocks is far more difficult than taking an ice cube out of the freezer on a warm day. It requires huge particle accelerators like the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, a nuclear physics scientific user facility at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory, to smash atomic nuclei together at close to the speed of light, and sophisticated detectors and powerful supercomputers to help physicists make sense of what comes out. By studying the collision debris and comparing experimental observations with predictions from complex calculations, physicists at Brookhaven are plotting specific points on the nuclear phase diagram to reveal details of this extraordinary transition.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 398  |
  • September 30, 2013
  • Virtual control room melds neuroscience, engineering

    Nuclear operator crews run simulations in INL's virtual control room. Some 10 shrill alarms were going off at once. In what looked and sounded like a nuclear plant control room, it appeared that there had been a steam generator tube rupture. In charge of solving the problem: A pair of neuroscience graduate students doing summer research at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory with the Human Factors group — a team of researchers who study the intersections between minds and machines.

    The Human Systems Simulation Lab (HSSL) at INL is a good facsimile of a real nuclear control room. Human factors researchers use the HSSL as a test-bed for new control features. The capability, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program, is now helping Duke Energy embark on an upgrade project for several of its nuclear plant control rooms.

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  • Scientists crank up the voltage, create better dark-matter search

    The CDMS experiment uses particle detectors made of germanium and silicon crystals. Scientists on the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search have set the strongest limits in the world for the detection of a light dark-matter particle with a mass below 6 billion electronvolts, or about six times the mass of a proton.

    The composition of dark matter, which accounts for more than 80 percent of all matter in the universe, could be as complicated as the makeup of ordinary matter. In the past, many experiments have focused on searching for dark-matter particles that are heavy. But recent experimental results and new theoretical models have provoked a strong interest in the search for light dark-matter particles.

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  • Magnetic charge crystals imaged in artificial spin ice

    Magnetic charge map: A map of the crystallites of ordered magnetic charges in honeycomb artificial spin ice. The red and blue dots correspond to vertices belonging to each of the two degenerate magnetic change-ordered states. Image by Ian Gilbert, U. of I. Department of Physics and Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory.A team of scientists has reported direct visualization of magnetic charge crystallization in an artificial spin ice material, a first in the study of a relatively new class of frustrated artificial magnetic materials-by-design known as “Artificial Spin Ice.” These charges are analogs to electrical charges with possible applications in magnetic memories and devices; in describing this class of materials, the new work demonstrates their utility.

    Staff scientist Cristiano Nisoli at DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory explained, “Magnetic technology generally concerns itself with manipulation of localized dipolar degrees of freedom,” he said. “The ability of building materials containing delocalized monopolar charges is very exciting with possible technological implications in data storage and computation.”

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  • Supercomputers improve solar power forecasts

    Supercomputers improve solar power forecasts. To improve the accuracy of solar power forecasting, research meteorologist Edwin Campos and his colleagues at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory have partnered with IBM to build a forecasting technology based on IBM's Watson supercomputer, made famous by its 2011 victory over human champions on the television quiz show Jeopardy!.

    Campos hopes that the information he gains by integrating big data processing, machine learning and cloud modeling into a Watson-like platform will help grid managers and power plant operators develop more efficient strategies for allocating their resources to manage the unevenness of solar generation.

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