Kenneth Hill and Manfred Bitter inspect an X-ray crystal spectrometer to be used to study laser-produced plasmas. The vertically mounted silicon crystal has a thickness of 100 microns, about the average diameter of a human hair.PPPL’s dynamic diagnostic duo

Kenneth Hill and Manfred Bitter are scientific pioneers who have collaborated seamlessly for more than 35 years. Together they have revolutionized a key instrument in the quest to harness fusion energy — a device called an X-ray crystal spectrometer that is used around the world to reveal strikingly detailed information about the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions.

“Ken and Manfred are consummate diagnosticians,” said Michael Zarnstorff, deputy director for research at DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), where the duo has worked for nearly four decades. “Over the years they have developed highly innovative and uniquely capable tools for analyzing the results of fusion experiments.”

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The BISON modeling code provides insight into processes researchers would not otherwise have resources to simulate on their own.BISON helps researchers create complex nuclear fuel simulations

It's rare that a chipped nuclear fuel pellet makes its way into a reactor. However, if one of the millions of pencil-sized pellets does have a small defect, it can affect the fuel's performance. Exactly how these effects evolve is just one of the situations BISON can simulate in an effort to help engineers enhance nuclear fuel safety margins.

BISON is a computer code developed at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory, and it is one of a herd of applications — most also named after animals — that utilizes the Multiphysics Object Oriented Simulation Environment (MOOSE) framework, also developed at INL.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 417  |
  • July 7, 2014
  • Satisfying metals' thirst vital for high-capacity batteries

    Satisfying metals' thirst vital for high-capacity batteries Imagine a cell phone battery that worked for days between charges. At DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, scientists are answering fundamental science questions that could make batteries work more efficiently. Replacing lithium, which is in the +1 oxidation state, with metals that can carry multiple charges could potentially increase battery capacity.

    "Our initial efforts focused on understanding the behavior of metals that have +2 or +3 oxidation states in an aqueous solution," said Dr. Sotiris Xantheas, who led the research at PNNL. "This would double or triple the amount of charge that could be stored in a battery, but before this study, we had no insights on how the charge on the ions is either stabilized or destabilized when their local environment changes."

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  • For the users: SNS produces neutrons at 1.4 MW

    1.4 MW power on target (1,406.79 kilowatts) displayed in the Spallation Neutron Source control room. The Spallation Neutron Source at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory broke records for sustained beam power level as well as for integrated energy and target lifetime in the month of June.

    For the first time, the accelerator-based pulsed neutron source operated steadily for users at its baseline design power of 1.4 megawatts on June 26.

    “Over the past year, we have implemented technical and operational improvements to provide stable operation at 1.4 MW with little operating margin,” said Kevin Jones, director of ORNL’s Research Accelerators Division. “This achievement is the result of a lot of hard work by the dedicated and talented staff of our division.”

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  • Scientists take first dip into water’s mysterious ‘no man’s land’

    An X-ray laser pulse at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source probes a supercooled water droplet (center, left). The speed and brightness of the X-ray pulses allowed researchers to study water molecules in the instant before freezing. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory) Scientists at DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made the first structural observations of liquid water at temperatures down to minus 51 degrees Fahrenheit, within an elusive “no man’s land” where water’s strange properties are super-amplified.

    The research, made possible by SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser and reported June 18 in Nature, opens a new window for exploring liquid water in these exotic conditions, and promises to improve our understanding of its unique properties at the more natural temperatures and states that are relevant to global ocean currents, climate and biology.

    Scientists have known for some time that water can remain liquid at extremely cold temperatures, but they’ve never before been able to examine its molecular structure in this zone.

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  • ORNL launches imaging institute

    Sergei Kalinin is inaugural director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Institute for Functional Imaging of Materials.DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has launched the Institute for Functional Imaging of Materials to accelerate discovery, design and deployment of new materials. The institute will meld world-class capabilities in imaging, high-performance computing, materials science and other scientific disciplines to probe materials. It supports President Obama’s Materials Genome Initiative, which aims to bring new materials to the marketplace.

    “Advanced materials are essential to clean energy, national security and global competitiveness,” said ORNL Director Thom Mason. “Key energy technologies like solar cells, superconductors and batteries all have shortcomings that next-generation materials might overcome.”

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