ORNL's Michael ChanceORNL Wigner Fellow writes the recipe for glowing research

In 2013, an inorganic chemistry student at the University of South Carolina conducted neutron experiments at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory for his Ph.D. work.

Two years later, Michael Chance is picking right back up on his research at ORNL as a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow, the most prestigious fellowship at ORNL.

The Wigner Fellowship, established in 1975, was created in honor of Nobel Laureate and the first ORNL Director of Research and Development.

ORNL Wigner Fellows are exceptional early career scientists like Chance who, for his doctoral thesis, established a new crystal growth technique. As a Wigner Fellow, Chance has a rare opportunity to pursue research programs, collaborate with ORNL distinguished scientists and staff and access national laboratory expertise, facilities, and programs.

“It’s exciting, being a Wigner Fellow and getting this support from a national lab to do real science and solve real problems,” said Chance. 

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NREL scientist Jianping Yu holds a petri dish of cyanobacteria culture being grown in his lab. He is working to cultivate various genetically engineered strains to promote ethylene production. Photo by Dennis SchroederEthylene production via sunlight opens door to future

Here's the future of ethylene production as Dr. Jianping Yu sees it.

"We envision some farms in the field that cover many acres. We will have cyanobacteria harvesting sunlight and C02 and then produce ethylene or ethylene derivatives," said Yu, a research scientist in the Photobiology Group at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "That's pretty far from where we are now, but that's the goal. If things work out, 10 years from now we should see some farms making petrochemical replacements."

Yu’s research was recognized at the R&D 100 awards, presented November 13 in Las Vegas. The awards are given by R&D Magazine and considered to be the Oscars of innovation. Yu won in the category of Mechanical Devices/Materials, and also received an Editor’s Choice award.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 453  |
  • November 30, 2015
  • Software diagnoses battery health and remaining life

    INL researcher Kevin Gering developed CellSage to diagnose battery health. High-performing batteries are capable of propelling vehicles for hundreds of miles, storing electricity for the electric grid or running powerful electronic devices for several hours. A significant gap exists in knowledge about battery health, however, especially in how specific battery chemistries respond to usage conditions and different environments. These factors influence the degradation mechanisms, while also creating uncertainty in capacity and power (remaining useful life).

    Kevin Gering, a researcher at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory, has developed an advanced software diagnostic tool to assess batteries currently in use. Known as CellSage (or Cell’s Age), this technology is able to characterize battery performance, diagnose the health of a battery in use, and predict how much longer it will be able to function in specific conditions and scenarios.

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  • Unstoppable, one-dimensional electron waves

    XCBikeRacer by Daniel Plunkett. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - In certain nanomaterials, electrons are able to race through custom-built roadways just one atom wide. To achieve excellent efficiency, these one-dimensional paths must be paved with absolute perfection—a single errant atom can stop racing electrons in their tracks or even launch it backwards. Unfortunately, such imperfections are inevitable.

    Now, a pair of scientists from Brookhaven Lab and Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich has proposed the first solution to such subatomic stoppage: a novel way to create a more robust electron wave by binding together the electron's direction of movement and its spin. The trick, as described in a paper published November 16 in Physical Review Letters and featured as an Editor's Selection, is to exploit magnetic ions lacing the electron racetrack. The theory could drive advances in nanoscale engineering for data- and energy-storage technologies.

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  • Record quality factor lowers cost of new particle accelerator

    An LCLS-II-type accelerator cavity is inserted into a machine to be treated with nitrogen, a process that increases the cavity's quality factor. Photo credit: Fermilab A team at DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory achieved a record-high quality factor when testing the first fully dressed radio-frequency cavity built for a particle accelerator project at DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The quality factor, Q, exceeded the goal for the Linac Coherent Light Source II project and far surpasses current state-of-the-art standards.

    A higher Q means a cavity is more efficient at accelerating particles and loses less energy. It opens up a way for future particle accelerators to operate much more efficiently at a much lower cost.

    LCLS-II will produce X-rays to probe a wide variety of materials at the nanoscale. Fermilab is responsible for designing, developing, building and testing about 150 nine-cell superconducting RF cavities for the LCLS-II accelerator. This was the first integrated test in which a nine-cell cavity was outfitted with all the components it will wear in the LCLS-II accelerator.

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  • Novel intermediate energy X-ray beamline opening for researchers

    Members of the Intermediate Energy X-ray collaborative development team standing in front of the beamline. Left to right: Jessica McChesney, Yizhi Fang, Tim Roberts, Mohan Ramanathan, Mike Fisher, Fanny Rodolakis, and Ruben Reininger. Researchers working to create next-generation electronic systems and to understand the fundamental properties of magnetism and electronics to tackle grand challenges such as quantum computing have a new cutting-edge tool in their arsenal. The Advanced Photon Source (APS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at Argonne National Laboratory, recently unveiled a new capability: the Intermediate Energy X-ray (IEX) beamline at sector 29.

    Using relatively low-energy X-rays, the IEX beamline at the APS will help illuminate electronic ordering and emergent phenomena in ordered materials to better understand the origins of distinct electronic properties. Another important feature for users is a greater ability to adjust X-ray parameters to meet experimental needs.

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