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  • richardmitnick 10:29 am on July 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ames Laboratory, , , , ,   

    From DOE Pulse: “Ames Lab scientist hopes to improve rare earth purification process” 

    pulse

    July 21, 2014
    Austin Kreber, 515.987.4885,
    ajkreber@iastate.edu

    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.

    nd
    Nuwan De Silva, scientist at the Ames
    Laboratory, is developing software to help improve purification of rare-earth materials. Photo credit: Sarom Leang

    Rare-earth metals are used in cars, phones, wind turbines, and other devices important to society. De Silva said China now produces 80-90 percent of the world’s supply of rare-metals and has imposed export restrictions on them. Because of these new export limitations, many labs, including the CMI, have begun trying to find alternative ways to obtain more rare-earth metals.

    Rare-earth metals are obtained by extracting them from their ore. The current extraction process is not very efficient, and normally the rare-earth metals produced are contaminated with other metals. In addition the rare-earth elements for various applications need to be separated from each other, which is a difficult process, one that is accomplished through a solvent extraction process using an aqueous acid solution.

    CMI scientists are focusing on certain types of ligands they believe will bind with just rare-earth metals. They will insert a ligand into the acid solution, and it will go right to the metal and bind to it. They can then extract the rare-earth metal with the ligand still bound to it and then remove the ligand in a subsequent step. The result is a rare-earth metal with little or no contaminants from non rare-earth metals. However, because the solution will still contain neighboring rare-earth metals, the process needs to be repeated many times to separate the other rare earths from the desired rare-earth element.

    The ligand is much like someone being sent to an airport to pick someone up. With no information other than a first name — “John” — finding the right person is a long and tedious process. But armed with a description of John’s appearance, height, weight, and what he is doing, finding him would be much easier. For De Silva, John is a rare-earth metal, and the challenge is developing a ligand best adapted to finding and binding to it.

    To find the optimum ligand, De Silva will use Titan to search through all the possible candidates. First, Titan has to discover the properties of a ligand class. To do that, it uses quantum-mechanical (QM) calculations. These QM calculations take around a year to finish.

    ORNL Titan Supercomputer
    TITAN at ORNL

    Once the QM calculations are finished, Titan uses a program to examine all the parameters of a particular ligand to find the best ligand candidate. These calculations are called molecular mechanics (MM). MM calculations take about another year to accomplish their task.

    “I have over 2,500,000 computer hours on Titan available to me so I will be working with it a lot,” De Silva said. “I think the short term goal of finding one ligand that works will take two years.”

    The CMI isn’t the only lab working on this problem. The Institute is partnering with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory as well as numerous other partners. “We are all in constant communication with each other,” De Silva said.

    See the full article here.

    DOE Pulse highlights work being done at the Department of Energy’s national laboratories. DOE’s laboratories house world-class facilities where more than 30,000 scientists and engineers perform cutting-edge research spanning DOE’s science, energy, National security and environmental quality missions. DOE Pulse is distributed twice each month.

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  • richardmitnick 12:12 pm on May 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ames Laboratory, ,   

    From Ames Lab via D.O.E. Pulse: “Speeding up critical metals research with 3D printer” 

    AmesLabII
    Ames Laboratory

    May 12, 2014
    No Writer Credit

    To meet one of the biggest energy challenges of the 21st century—finding alternatives to rare-earth elements and other critical materials—scientists will need new and advanced tools.

    The Critical Materials Institute at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory has a new one: a 3D printer for metals research.

    3d

    3D printing technology, which has captured the imagination of both industry and consumers, enables ideas to move quickly from the initial design phase to final form using materials including polymers, ceramics, paper and even food.

    But the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) will apply the advantages of the 3D printing process in a unique way: for materials discovery. By doing so, researchers can find substitutes to critical materials– ones essential for clean energy technologies but at risk of being in short supply.

    CMI scientists will use the printer instead of traditional casting methods to streamline the process of bulk combinatorial materials research, producing a large variety of alloys in a short amount of time.

    “Metal 3D printers are slowly becoming more commonplace,” said Ryan Ott, principal investigator at the Ames Laboratory and the CMI. “They can be costly, and are often limited to small-scale additive manufacturing in industry. But for us, this equipment has the potential to become a very powerful research tool. We can rapidly synthesize large libraries of materials. It opens up a lot of new possibilities.”

    The CMI printer, a LENS MR-7 manufactured by Optomec of Albuquerque, N.M., uses models from computer-aided design software to build layers of metal alloy on a substrate via metal powders that are melted by a laser. Four chambers supply metal powders to the deposition head that can be programmed to produce a nearly infinite variety of alloy compositions. The printing occurs in an ultra-low oxygen glove box to protect the quality of highly reactive materials. In a recent demonstration run, the printer produced a one-inch long, 0.25-inch diameter rod of stainless steel in 20 seconds.

    The process will overcome some of the obstacles of traditional combinatorial materials research.

    “The problem is that it’s been typically limited to thin film synthesis. These thin film samples are not always representative of the bulk properties of a material. For example magnetic properties, important to the study of rare earths, are not going to be the same as you get in the bulk material,” explained Ott.

    Combined with computational work, experimental techniques, and a partnership with the Stanford Synchrotron Light Source (SSRL) for X-ray characterization, scientists at the CMI will be able to speed the search for alternatives to rare-earth and other critical metals.

    “Now we have the potential to screen through a lot of material libraries very quickly, looking for the properties that best suit particular needs,” said Ott.

    This research is supported by the Critical Materials Institute, a Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. CMI seeks ways to eliminate and reduce reliance on rare-earth metals and other materials critical to the success of clean energy technologies. DOE’s Energy Innovation Hubs are integrated research centers that bring together scientists and engineers from many different institutions and technical backgrounds to accelerate scientific discovery in areas vital to U.S. energy security.

    Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.
    Full story: https://www.ameslab.gov/news/news-releases/ames-lab-critical-materials-institute-speed-metals-research-3d-printer.

    See the full article here.

    Ames Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated research facility of the U.S. Department of Energy that is run by Iowa State University.

    For more than 60 years, the Ames Laboratory has sought solutions to energy-related problems through the exploration of chemical, engineering, materials, mathematical and physical sciences. Established in the 1940s with the successful development of the most efficient process to produce high-quality uranium metal for atomic energy, the Lab now pursues a broad range of scientific priorities.

    Ames Laboratory shares a close working relationship with Iowa State University’s Institute for Physical Research and Technology, or IPRT, a network of scientific research centers at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

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  • richardmitnick 2:09 pm on April 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ames Laboratory, , ,   

    From Ames Lab: “Ames Lab researchers show polymer-coated nanocubes form complex structures” 

    AmesLabII
    Ames Laboratory

    March 21, 2014
    Alex Travesset, Materials Sciences and Engineering, 515-294-7191
    Kerry Gibson, Public Affairs, 515-294-1405

    Nanoparticles assembled in new ways hold the promise of a wave of new high-tech materials that could offer high strength, enhanced magnetic properties, light reflectivity or absorption, use as catalysts and much more. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have developed a theoretical model to explore the effect of polymer coatings, including DNA, for self-assembly of nanocubes into so-called superlattices.

    What makes the work by Ames Laboratory physicist Alex Travesset and graduate assistant Chris Knorowski significant is that they have characterized how these nanocubes form crystalline and liquid crystalline structures. Their work was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and mentioned in an Editor’s Choice article in the January 31 issue of Science.

    ns
    Using numerical simulations, Ames Lab researchers found that “hairy” (f-star) or DNA grafted on nanocubes provided a general framework to direct the self-assembly into phases with crystalline, liquid crystalline, rotator, or noncrystalline phases with both long-range positional and orientational order.

    “Spherical nanoparticles, are isotropic so they can align in any direction,” Travesset explains. “Nanocubes are different. They are anisotropic, so they display orientational order. They will only stack together if the faces orient in certain ways.”

    “From a more applied point of view, cubes can pack together more efficiently than spheres; in configurations that do not leave any gaps,” he adds, “so they are of interest in areas such as catalysis where you want to maximize contact area.”

    To date scientists had only considered theoretical systems that consist of hard nanocubes. However, by coating nanocubes with strands of polymer, the structures that form are bound together so that they can be extracted and studied in laboratory environments. The nanocubes can be metallic, gold or silver, or made of semiconducting material.

    Travesset’s theoretical model uses both a general polymer and DNA. While both resulted in assembly of nanocubes into complex crystalline structures, the DNA system allows control of self-assembly by hybridization of complementary base pairs.

    “With DNA, you can encode information about which cubes are going to assemble with which other cubes,” Travesset said. “It gives you a more precise way to target relevant self-assembled structures.”

    “Because the system can be polymerized in water, the assembled structure can be extracted and used in dry environments,” Travesset said. “And these complex structures provide much more opportunity for applications and systems than simple hard cubes allow. We hope these systems will lead to further experimentation.”

    The research is funded by the DOE’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit the Office of Science website at science.energy.gov/.

    See the full article here.

    Ames Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated research facility of the U.S. Department of Energy that is run by Iowa State University.

    For more than 60 years, the Ames Laboratory has sought solutions to energy-related problems through the exploration of chemical, engineering, materials, mathematical and physical sciences. Established in the 1940s with the successful development of the most efficient process to produce high-quality uranium metal for atomic energy, the Lab now pursues a broad range of scientific priorities.

    Ames Laboratory shares a close working relationship with Iowa State University’s Institute for Physical Research and Technology, or IPRT, a network of scientific research centers at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

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  • richardmitnick 1:11 pm on March 31, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ames Laboratory, , ,   

    From Ames Lab: “Ultra-fast laser spectroscopy lights way to understanding new materials” 

    AmesLabII
    Ames Laboratory

    Feb. 28, 2014
    Jigang Wang, Material Sciences and Engineering, 515-294-5630
    Breehan Gerleman Lucchesi, Public Affairs, 515-294-9750

    Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory are revealing the mysteries of new materials using ultra-fast laser spectroscopy, similar to high-speed photography where many quick images reveal subtle movements and changes inside the materials. Seeing these dynamics is one emerging strategy to better understanding how new materials work, so that we can use them to enable new energy technologies.

    Physicist Jigang Wang and his colleagues recently used ultra-fast laser spectroscopy to examine and explain the mysterious electronic properties of iron-based superconductors. Results appeared in Nature Communications this month.

    Superconductors are materials that, when cooled below a certain temperature, display zero electrical resistance, a property that could someday make possible lossless electrical distribution. Superconductors start in a “normal” often magnetic state and then transition to a superconducting state when they are cooled to a certain temperature.

    What is still a mystery is what goes on in materials as they transform from normal to superconducting. And this “messy middle” area of superconducting materials’ behavior holds richer information about the why and how of superconductivity than do the stable areas.

    fast
    Ames Laboratory scientists use ultra-fast laser spectroscopy to “see” tiny actions in real time in
    materials. Scientists apply a pulse laser to a sample to excite the material. Some of the laser light
    is absorbed by the material, but the light that passes through or reflected from the material can be
    used to take super-fast “snapshots” of what is going on in the material following the laser pulse.

    “The stable states of materials aren’t quite as interesting as the crossover region when comes to understanding materials’ mechanisms because everything is settled and there’s not a lot of action. But, in this crossover region to superconductivity, we can study the dynamics, see what goes where and when, and this information will tell us a lot about the interplay between superconductivity and magnetism,” said Wang, who is also an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Iowa State University.

    But the challenges is that in the crossover region, all the different sets of materials properties that scientists examine, like its magnetic order and electronic order, are all coupled. In other words, when there’s a change to one set of properties, it changes all the others. So, it’s really difficult to trace what individual changes and properties are dominant.

    The complexity of this coupled state has been studied by groundbreaking work by research groups at Ames Laboratory over the past five years. Paul Canfield, an Ames Laboratory scientist and expert in designing and developing iron-based superconductor materials, created and characterized a very high quality single crystal used in this investigation. These high-quality single crystals had been exceptionally well characterized by other techniques and were essentially “waiting for their close up” under Wang’s ultra-fast spot-light.

    Wang and the team used ultra-fast laser spectroscopy to “see” the tiny actions in materials. In ultra-fast laser spectroscopy, scientists apply a pulsed laser to a materials sample to excite particles within the sample. Some of the laser light is absorbed by the material, but the light that passes through the material can be used to take super-fast “snapshots” of what is going on in the material following the laser pulse and then replayed afterward like a stop-action movie.

    The technique is especially well suited to understanding the crossover region of iron-arsenide based superconductors materials because the laser excitation alters the material so that different properties of the material are distinguishable from each other in time, even the most subtle evolutions in the materials’ properties.

    “Ultra-fast laser spectroscopy is a new experimental tool to study dynamic, emergent behavior in complex materials such as these iron-based superconductors,” said Wang. “Specifically, we answered the pressing question of whether an electronically-driven nematic order exists as an independent phase in iron-based superconductors, as these materials go from a magnetic normal state to superconducting state. The answer is yes. This is important to our overall understanding of how superconductors emerge in this type of materials.”

    Aaron Patz and Tianqi Li collaborated on the laser spectroscopy work. Sheng Ran, Sergey L. Bud’ko and Paul Canfield collaborated on sample development at Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University. Rafael M. Fernandes at the University of Minnesota, Joerg Schmalian, formerly of Ames Laboratory and now at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Ilias E. Perakis at University of Crete, Greece collaborated on the simulation work.

    Wang, Patz, Li, Ran, Bud’ko and Canfield’s work at Ames Laboratory was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, (sample preparation and characterization). Wang’s work on pnictide superconductors is supported by Ames Laboratory’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) funding (femtosecond laser spectroscopy).

    DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit the Office of Science website at science.energy.gov/.

    See the full article here.

    Ames Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated research facility of the U.S. Department of Energy that is run by Iowa State University.

    For more than 60 years, the Ames Laboratory has sought solutions to energy-related problems through the exploration of chemical, engineering, materials, mathematical and physical sciences. Established in the 1940s with the successful development of the most efficient process to produce high-quality uranium metal for atomic energy, the Lab now pursues a broad range of scientific priorities.

    Ames Laboratory shares a close working relationship with Iowa State University’s Institute for Physical Research and Technology, or IPRT, a network of scientific research centers at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

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  • richardmitnick 12:09 pm on February 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3D Printing, Ames Laboratory, , ,   

    From Ames Lab: “Ames Lab, Critical Materials Institute speed metals research with 3D printer” 

    AmesLabII
    Ames Laboratory

    Feb. 13, 2014
    Ryan Ott, Critical Materials Institute, (515) 294-3616
    Laura Millsaps, Public Affairs, (515) 294-3474

    To meet one of the biggest energy challenges of the 21st century– finding alternatives to rare-earth elements and other critical materials– scientists will need new and advanced tools.

    The Critical Materials Institute at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory has a new one: a 3D printer for metals research.

    3D printing technology, which has captured the imagination of both industry and consumers, enables ideas to move quickly from the initial design phase to final form using materials including polymers, ceramics, paper and even food.

    But the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) will apply the advantages of the 3D printing process in a unique way: for materials discovery. By doing so, researchers can find substitutes to critical materials– ones essential for clean energy technologies but at risk of being in short supply.

    CMI scientists will use the printer instead of traditional casting methods to streamline the process of bulk combinatorial materials research, producing a large variety of alloys in a short amount of time.

    “Metal 3D printers are slowly becoming more commonplace,” said Ryan Ott, principal investigator at the Ames Laboratory and the CMI. “They can be costly, and are often limited to small-scale additive manufacturing in industry. But for us, this equipment has the potential to become a very powerful research tool. We can rapidly synthesize large libraries of materials. It opens up a lot of new possibilities.”

    printer

    The CMI printer, a LENS MR-7 manufactured by Optomec of Albuquerque, N.M., uses models from computer-aided design software to build layers of metal alloy on a substrate via metal powders that are melted by a laser. Four chambers supply metal powders to the deposition head that can be programmed to produce a nearly infinite variety of alloy compositions. The printing occurs in an ultra-low oxygen glove box to protect the quality of highly reactive materials. In a recent demonstration run, the printer produced a one-inch long, 0.25-inch diameter rod of stainless steel in 20 seconds.

    The process will overcome some of the obstacles of traditional combinatorial materials research.

    “The problem is that it’s been typically limited to thin film synthesis. These thin film samples are not always representative of the bulk properties of a material. For example magnetic properties, important to the study of rare earths, are not going to be the same as you get in the bulk material,” explained Ott.

    Combined with computational work, experimental techniques, and a partnership with the Stanford Synchrotron Light Source (SSRL) for X-ray characterization, scientists at the CMI will be able to speed the search for alternatives to rare-earth and other critical metals.

    “Now we have the potential to screen through a lot of material libraries very quickly, looking for the properties that best suit particular needs,” said Ott.

    This research is supported by the Critical Materials Institute, a Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. CMI seeks ways to eliminate and reduce reliance on rare-earth metals and other materials critical to the success of clean energy technologies. DOE’s Energy Innovation Hubs are integrated research centers that bring together scientists and engineers from many different institutions and technical backgrounds to accelerate scientific discovery in areas vital to U.S. energy security.

    See the full article here.

    Ames Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated research facility of the U.S. Department of Energy that is run by Iowa State University.

    For more than 60 years, the Ames Laboratory has sought solutions to energy-related problems through the exploration of chemical, engineering, materials, mathematical and physical sciences. Established in the 1940s with the successful development of the most efficient process to produce high-quality uranium metal for atomic energy, the Lab now pursues a broad range of scientific priorities.

    Ames Laboratory shares a close working relationship with Iowa State University’s Institute for Physical Research and Technology, or IPRT, a network of scientific research centers at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

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  • richardmitnick 7:08 pm on January 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ames Laboratory, ,   

    From ENERGY.GOV: “Ames Laboratory to Lead New Research Effort to Address Shortages in Rare Earth and Other Critical Materials” 

    AmesLabII
    Ames Laboratory

    January 9, 2013
    No Writer Credit

    “The U.S. Department of Energy announced today that a team led by Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, has been selected for an award of up to $120 million over five years to establish an Energy Innovation Hub that will develop solutions to the domestic shortages of rare earth metals and other materials critical for U.S. energy security. The new research center, which will be named the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), will bring together leading researchers from academia, four Department of Energy national laboratories, as well as the private sector.

    ‘Rare earth metals and other critical materials are essential to manufacturing wind turbines, electric vehicles, advanced batteries and a host of other products that are essential to America’s energy and national security. The Critical Materials Institute will bring together the best and brightest research minds from universities, national laboratories and the private sector to find innovative technology solutions that will help us avoid a supply shortage that would threaten our clean energy industry as well as our security interests,’ said David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

    ‘The Ames Lab is the nation’s premier research center for rare earth materials’ science and technology. In responding to DOE’s call for proposals, Ames assembled a team that offers broad capabilities covering the full spectrum of critical materials research and development, from mining to separations, alloy formulations, component and systems development, and materials recycling. This team will enable the United States to continue as a global leader in research and development in diverse technologies such as communications, control systems and advanced energy systems,’ said U.S. Senator Tom Harkin

    See the full article here.

    Ames Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated research facility of the U.S. Department of Energy that is run by Iowa State University.

    For more than 60 years, the Ames Laboratory has sought solutions to energy-related problems through the exploration of chemical, engineering, materials, mathematical and physical sciences. Established in the 1940s with the successful development of the most efficient process to produce high-quality uranium metal for atomic energy, the Lab now pursues a broad range of scientific priorities.

    Ames Laboratory shares a close working relationship with Iowa State University’s Institute for Physical Research and Technology, or IPRT, a network of scientific research centers at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

    DOE Banner

     
  • richardmitnick 9:43 pm on February 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ames Laboratory, ,   

    From Ames Labs: “New Tool for Cell Research May Help Unravel Secrets of Disease” 

    Ning Fang

    ” Advancements in understanding rotational motion in living cells may help researchers shed light on the causes of deadly diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, according to Ning Fang, an associate scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory and faculty member at Iowa State University.

    In an article entitled Resolving Rotational Motions of Nano-objects in Engineered Environments and Live Cells with Gold Nanorods and Differential Interference Contrast Microscopy published in the November 2 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and an article in press in ACS Nano, Fang and his research team write about the influence of differential interference contrast Microscopy on revealing nanoparticle movement in living cells.

    i1
    (from left) Researchers Ning Fang, Wei Sun and Gufeng Wang.

    Using a technique called differential interference contrast microscopy, or DIC, Fang’s team can capture both the orientation and the position of the gold nanorods in addition to the optical image of the cell and, thus, reveal a particle’s 5D (3 spatial coordinates and 2 orientation angles) movement within living cells.

    ‘DIC imagining of this gold nanorod helps give us high angular resolution,’ says Fang.”

    See the full article and links to further reading here.

     
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