Xiao-Ying Yu holds SALVI, which enables vacuum-based instruments to analyze liquid surfaces in their natural state at the molecular level.Curiosity and collaboration define Xiao-Ying Yu’s innovations

While she enjoyed her education in China and across the United States, Dr. Xiao-Ying Yu believes that there is no substitute for working on projects where nobody knows the answer – yet. Working without a safety net, whether it be answers in the back of a book or an advisor who knows a sample’s contents, is what drives her. And, so far, it has led to chemical and atmospheric discoveries, along with a unique device that could dramatically expand the use of high-powered instruments.

“I tell my students not to take too many classes because they may not teach you how to solve problems that nobody else knows how to answer,” said Xiao-Ying, who regularly mentors students in her lab at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “To answer an unknown, you need to learn how to learn and then work on it.”

Full Story


Los Alamos National Laboratory postdoctoral researcher Elena Guardincerri, right, and undergraduate research assistant Shelby Fellows prepare a lead hemisphere inside a muon tomography machine, which can peer inside closed containers and provide detailed images of dense objects such as nuclear materials. The Los Alamos detector can be used to thwart nuclear smugglers or look inside the cores of damaged nuclear reactors, such as those at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan. Photo credit: LANLLos Alamos muon tomography to support faster and potentially safer cleanup at Fukushima nuclear reactors

The Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory will partner with Toshiba Corporation to use a Los Alamos technique called muon tomography to safely peer inside the cores of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors and create high-resolution images of the damaged nuclear material inside without ever breaching the cores themselves.

The initiative could reduce the time required to clean up the disabled complex by at least a decade and greatly reduce radiation exposure to personnel working at the plant.

Full Story

See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 418  |
  • July 21, 2014
  • PPPL studies plasma's role in synthesizing nanoparticles

    Physicist Yevgney Raitses, the principal investigator for research into the role of plasma in synthesizing nanoparticles, in PPPL’s nanontechnology laboratory. Photo credit: Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has received some $4.3 million of DOE Office of Science funding, over three years, to develop an increased understanding of the role of plasma in the synthesis of nanoparticles.  Such particles, which are measured in billionths of a meter, are prized for their use in everything from golf clubs and swimwear to microchips, paints and pharmaceutical products. They also have potentially wide-ranging applications in the development of new energy technologies.

    “Plasma is widely used as a tool for producing nanoparticles, but there is no deep understanding of the role that plasma plays in this process,” said physicist Yevgeny Raitses, the principal investigator for the project. “Our goal is to develop an understanding that can lead to improved synthesis of these particles.”

    Full Story

  • Ames Lab scientist hopes to improve rare earth purification process

    Nuwan De Silva, scientist at the Ames Laboratory, is developing software to help improve purification of rare-earth materials. Photo credit: Sarom Leang Using the second fastest supercomputer in the world, a scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory is attempting to develop a more efficient process for purifying rare-earth materials.

    Dr. Nuwan De Silva, a postdoctoral research associate at the Ames Laboratory’s Critical Materials Institute, said CMI scientists are honing in on specific types of ligands they believe will only bind with rare-earth metals. By binding to these rare metals, they believe they will be able to extract just the rare-earth metals without them being contaminated with other metals.

    Full Story

  • Simulated ‘engine of explosion’ observed in supernova remnant

    The entropy of the inner 250 kilometers of a 15 solar-mass star during a 3D simulation of a core-collapse supernova using the CHIMERA code. Large-scale distortion of the supernova shock can be seen, along with smaller-scale convection. Back in 2003, researchers using the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility’s (OLCF’s) first supercomputer, Phoenix, started out with a bang. Astrophysicists studying core-collapse supernovae—dying massive stars that violently explode after running out of fuel—asked themselves what mechanism triggers explosion and a fusion chain reaction that releases all the elements found in the universe, including those that make up the matter around us?

    “This is really one of the most important problems in science because supernovae give us all the elements in nature,” said Tony Mezzacappa of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and researcher at the time at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    Full Story

  • Diamond plates create nanostructures through pressure, not chemistry

    Sandia National Laboratories researcher Hongyou Fan, center, points out a nanoscience result to Sandia paper co-authors Paul Clem, left, and Binsong Li. (Photo by Randy Montoya)You wouldn’t think that mechanical force — the simple kind used to eject unruly patrons from bars, shoe a horse or emboss the raised numerals on credit cards — could process nanoparticles more subtly than the most advanced chemistry.

    Yet, in a recent paper in Nature Communications, Sandia National Laboratories researcher Hongyou Fan and colleagues appear to have achieved a start toward that end.

    Their newly patented and original method uses simple pressure — a kind of high-tech embossing — to produce finer and cleaner results in forming silver nanostructures than do chemical methods, which are not only inflexible in their results but leave harmful byproducts to dispose of.

    Full Story