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  • richardmitnick 4:42 pm on October 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: (DAMA) group - Brookhaven’s Data Acquisition Management and Analysis, Bluesky software, , BNL NSLS II   

    From BNL: “Software Developed at Brookhaven Lab Could Advance Synchrotron Science Worldwide” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    October 2, 2017
    Stephanie Kossman
    skossman@bnl.gov

    1
    Thomas Caswell (left) and Dan Allan (right), two of Bluesky’s creators.

    Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed new software to streamline data acquisition (DAQ) at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. Called “Bluesky,” the software significantly eases the process of collecting and comparing data at NSLS-II, and could be used to facilitate scientific collaboration between light sources worldwide.

    NSLS-II is one of the most advanced synchrotrons in the nation, and as the facility continues to expand, researchers need dynamic DAQ software to effectively capture and process the large volume and variety of data their experiments produce. Typically at synchrotrons, each beamline (experimental station) uses DAQ software that was developed specifically for that beamline. These beamline-specific types of software are often incompatible with each other, making it difficult for scientists to compare data from different beamlines, as well as other light sources. That’s why Brookhaven’s Data Acquisition, Management and Analysis (DAMA) group developed Bluesky.

    “We wanted to make software that is designed the way scientists think when they are doing an experiment,” said Dan Allan, a member of DAMA. “Bluesky is a language for expressing the steps in a science experiment.”

    2
    From left to right: (Back row) Thomas Caswell, Richard Farnsworth, Arman Arkilic; (Front Row) Yong-Nian Tang, Dan Allan, Stuart Campbell, Li Li

    Allan, alongside DAMA member Thomas Caswell, conceptualized Bluesky as the top “layer” of an existing DAQ system. At the bottom layer is the beamline’s equipment, which works with vendor-supplied software to write electrons onto a disc. The next layer is the Experimental Physics and Industrial Control Software (EPICS).

    “Up to a point, EPICS makes all devices look the same. You can speak a common language to EPICS in the same way you can speak a common language to different websites. It’s the equivalent of the ‘http’ in a web address, but for hardware control,” Allan said. “We’re trying to build a layer up from that.”

    Bluesky stands on the shoulders of EPICS, and provides additional capabilities such as live visualization and data processing tools, and can export data into nearly any file format in real time. Bluesky was developed using “Python,” a common programming language that will make Bluesky simple for future scientists to modify, and to implement at new beamlines and light sources.

    Scientists at NSLS-II are already using Bluesky at the majority of the facility’s beamlines. In particular, Bluesky has benefitted researchers by minimizing the amount of steps involved with DAQ and operating in-line with their experimental protocol.

    “Bluesky is the cruise control for a scientific experiment,” said Richard Farnsworth, the controls program manager at NSLS-II. “Its modular design incorporates a hardware abstraction library called Ophyd and a package for databases called Data Broker, both of which can also be used independently.”

    A version of Bluesky has been operating at NSLS-II since 2015, and ever since, the software has continued to develop smoothly and successfully as DAMA adds new features and upgrades.

    “I think one of the key things that made us successful is that our team wasn’t assigned to one beamline,” Caswell said. “If you’re working on one beamline, it’s very easy to build something tuned to that beamline, and if you ever try to apply it to another, you suddenly discover all sorts of design decisions that were driven by the original beamline. Being facility-wide from the start of our project has been a great advantage.”

    Another important aspect of Bluesky’s success is the fact that it was built for scientists, by scientists.

    “A lot of the beamline scientists don’t see this as the typical customer-client relationship,” said Stuart Campbell, the group leader for DAMA. “They see Bluesky as a collaborative project.”

    As DAMA continues to improve upon Bluesky, the team gives scientists at NSLS-II the opportunity to influence how the software is developed. DAMA tests Bluesky directly on NSLS-II beamlines, and discusses the software with scientists on the experimental floor as they work.

    “I also think it’s very important that Dan and I both have physics PhDs, because that gives us a common language to communicate with the beamline staff,” Caswell said.

    Caswell and Allan first met while they were pursuing their graduate degrees in physics. Through an open source project on the internet, they discovered they each had the missing half to the other’s thesis. Combined, their work formed a project that is still used by research groups around the world, and illustrated the value of building software collaboratively and in the open, as DAMA has done with Bluesky.

    “We were solving the same problem from opposite ends, and I happened to find his project on the internet when we had just about met in the middle,” Allan said. “We both felt satisfaction in creating a tool that we imagined scientists might someday use.”

    Bluesky will be an ongoing project for Campbell, Caswell, Allan, and the rest of the DAMA group, but the software is already being tested at other light sources, including two other DOE Office of Science User Facilities: the Advanced Photon Source at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and the Linac Coherent Light Source at DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. DAMA’s goal is to share Bluesky as an open source project with light sources around the world and, gradually, build new layers on top of Bluesky for even more enhanced data visualization and analysis.

    Related Links

    Synchrotron Radiation News: Towards Integrated Facility-Wide Data Acquisition and Analysis at NSLS-IITaylor and Francis online

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 6:15 pm on September 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , BNL NSLS II, , , , , ,   

    From BNL: “Three Brookhaven Lab Scientists Selected to Receive Early Career Research Program Funding” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    August 15, 2017 [Just caught up with this via social media.]
    Karen McNulty Walsh,
    kmcnulty@bnl.gov
    (631) 344-8350
    Peter Genzer,
    genzer@bnl.gov
    (631) 344-3174

    Three scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have been selected by DOE’s Office of Science to receive significant research funding through its Early Career Research Program.

    The program, now in its eighth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. The three Brookhaven Lab recipients are among a total of 59 recipients selected this year after a competitive review of about 700 proposals.

    The scientists are each expected to receive grants of up to $2.5 million over five years to cover their salary plus research expenses. A list of the 59 awardees, their institutions, and titles of research projects is available on the Early Career Research Program webpage.

    This year’s Brookhaven Lab awardees include:

    1
    Sanjaya Senanayake

    Brookhaven Lab chemist Sanjaya D. Senanayake was selected by DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences to receive funding for “Unraveling Catalytic Pathways for

    Low Temperature Oxidative Methanol Synthesis from Methane.” His overarching goal is to study and improve catalysts that enable the conversion of methane (CH4), the primary component of natural gas, directly into methanol (CH3OH), a valuable chemical intermediate and potential renewable fuel.

    This research builds on the recent discovery of a single step catalytic process for this reaction that proceeds at low temperatures and pressures using inexpensive earth abundant catalysts. The reaction promises to be more efficient than current multi-step processes, which are energy-intensive, and a significant improvement over other attempts at one-step reactions where higher temperatures convert most of the useful hydrocarbon building blocks into carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide rather than methanol. With Early Career funding, Senanayake’s team will explore the nature of the reaction, and build on ways to further improve catalytic performance and specificity.

    The project will exploit unique capabilities of facilities at Brookhaven Lab, particularly at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), that make it possible to study catalysts in real-world reaction environments (in situ) using x-ray spectroscopy, electron imaging, and other in situ methods.

    BNL NSLS-II


    BNL NSLS II

    Experiments using well defined model surfaces and powders will reveal atomic level catalytic structures and reaction dynamics. When combined with theoretical modeling, these studies will help the scientists identify the essential interactions that take place on the surface of the catalyst. Of particular interest are the key features that activate stable methane molecules through “soft” oxidative activation of C-H bonds so methane can be converted to methanol using oxygen (O2) and water (H2O) as co-reactants.

    This work will establish and experimentally validate principles that can be used to design improved catalysts for synthesizing fuel and other industrially relevant chemicals from abundant natural gas.

    “I am grateful for this funding and the opportunity to pursue this promising research,” Senanayake said. “These fundamental studies are an essential step toward overcoming key challenges for the complex conversion of methane into valued chemicals, and for transforming the current model catalysts into practical versions that are inexpensive, durable, selective, and efficient for commercial applications.”

    Sanjaya Senanayake earned his undergraduate degree in material science and Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Auckland in New Zealand in 2001 and 2006, respectively. He worked as a research associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 2005-2008, and served as a local scientific contact at beamline U12a at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) at Brookhaven Lab from 2005 to 2009. He joined the Brookhaven staff as a research associate in 2008, was promoted to assistant chemist and associate chemist in 2014, while serving as the spokesperson for NSLS Beamline X7B. He has co-authored over 100 peer reviewed publications in the fields of surface science and catalysis, and has expertise in the synthesis, characterization, reactivity of catalysts and reactions essential for energy conversion. He is an active member of the American Chemical Society, North American Catalysis Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the New York Academy of Science.

    3
    Alessandro Tricoli

    Brookhaven Lab physicist Alessandro Tricoli will receive Early Career Award funding from DOE’s Office of High Energy Physics for a project titled “Unveiling the Electroweak Symmetry Breaking Mechanism at ATLAS and at Future Experiments with Novel Silicon Detectors.”

    CERN/ATLAS detector

    His work aims to improve, through precision measurements, the search for exciting new physics beyond what is currently described by the Standard Model [SM], the reigning theory of particle physics.

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    The discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland confirmed how the quantum field associated with this particle generates the masses of other fundamental particles, providing key insights into electroweak symmetry breaking—the mass-generating “Higgs mechanism.”

    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event

    But at the same time, despite direct searches for “new physics” signals that cannot be explained by the SM, scientists have yet to observe any evidence for such phenomena at the LHC—even though they know the SM is incomplete (for example it does not include an explanation for gravity).

    Tricoli’s research aims to make precision measurements to test fundamental predictions of the SM to identify anomalies that may lead to such discoveries. He focuses on the analysis of data from the LHC’s ATLAS experiment to comprehensively study electroweak interactions between the Higgs and particles called W and Z bosons. Any discovery of anomalies in such interactions could signal new physics at very high energies, not directly accessible by the LHC.

    This method of probing physics beyond the SM will become even more stringent once the high-luminosity upgrade of ATLAS, currently underway, is completed for longer-term LHC operations planned to begin in 2026.

    Tricoli’s work will play an important role in the upgrade of ATLAS’s silicon detectors, using novel state-of-the art technology capable of precision particle tracking and timing so that the detector will be better able to identify primary particle interactions and tease out signals from the background events. Designing these next-generation detector components could also have a profound impact on the development of future instruments that can operate in high radiation environments, such as in future colliders or in space.

    “This award will help me build a strong team around a research program I feel passionate about at ATLAS and the LHC, and for future experiments,” Tricoli said.

    “I am delighted and humbled by the challenge given to me with this award to take a step forward in science.”

    Alessandro Tricoli received his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Bologna, Italy, in 2001, and his Ph.D. in particle physics from Oxford University in 2007. He worked as a research associate at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK from 2006 to 2009, and as a research fellow and then staff member at CERN from 2009 to 2015, receiving commendations on his excellent performance from both institutions. He joined Brookhaven Lab as an assistant physicist in 2016. A co-author on multiple publications, he has expertise in silicon tracker and detector design and development, as well as the analysis of physics and detector performance data at high-energy physics experiments. He has extensive experience tutoring and mentoring students, as well as coordinating large groups of physicists involved in research at ATLAS.

    4
    Chao Zhang

    Brookhaven Lab physicist Chao Zhang was selected by DOE’s Office of High Energy Physics to receive funding for a project titled, “Optimization of Liquid Argon TPCs for Nucleon Decay and Neutrino Physics.” Liquid Argon TPCs (for Time Projection Chambers) form the heart of many large-scale particle detectors designed to explore fundamental mysteries in particle physics.

    Among the most compelling is the question of why there’s a predominance of matter over antimatter in our universe. Though scientists believe matter and antimatter were created in equal amounts during the Big Bang, equal amounts would have annihilated one another, leaving only light. The fact that we now have a universe made almost entirely of matter means something must have tipped the balance.

    A US-hosted international experiment scheduled to start collecting data in the mid-2020s, called the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), aims to explore this mystery through the search for two rare but necessary conditions for the imbalance: 1) evidence that some processes produce an excess of matter over antimatter, and 2) a sizeable difference in the way matter and antimatter behave.

    FNAL LBNF/DUNE from FNAL to SURF, Lead, South Dakota, USA


    FNAL DUNE Argon tank at SURF


    Surf-Dune/LBNF Caverns at Sanford



    SURF building in Lead SD USA

    The DUNE experiment will look for signs of these conditions by studying how protons (one of the two “nucleons” that make up atomic nuclei) decay as well as how elusive particles called neutrinos oscillate, or switch identities, among three known types.

    The DUNE experiment will make use of four massive 10-kiloton detector modules, each with a Liquid Argon Time Projection Chamber (LArTPC) at its core. Chao’s aim is to optimize the performance of the LArTPCs to fully realize their potential to track and identify particles in three dimensions, with a particular focus on making them sensitive to the rare proton decays. His team at Brookhaven Lab will establish a hardware calibration system to ensure their ability to extract subtle signals using specially designed cold electronics that will sit within the detector. They will also develop software to reconstruct the three-dimensional details of complex events, and analyze data collected at a prototype experiment (ProtoDUNE, located at Europe’s CERN laboratory) to verify that these methods are working before incorporating any needed adjustments into the design of the detectors for DUNE.

    “I am honored and thrilled to receive this distinguished award,” said Chao. “With this support, my colleagues and I will be able to develop many new techniques to enhance the performance of LArTPCs, and we are excited to be involved in the search for answers to one of the most intriguing mysteries in science, the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe.”

    Chao Zhang received his B.S. in physics from the University of Science and Technology of China in 2002 and his Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 2010, continuing as a postdoctoral scholar there until joining Brookhaven Lab as a research associate in 2011. He was promoted to physics associate III in 2015. He has actively worked on many high-energy neutrino physics experiments, including DUNE, MicroBooNE, Daya Bay, PROSPECT, JUNO, and KamLAND, co-authoring more than 40 peer reviewed publications with a total of over 5000 citations. He has expertise in the field of neutrino oscillations, reactor neutrinos, nucleon decays, liquid scintillator and water-based liquid scintillator detectors, and liquid argon time projection chambers. He is an active member of the American Physical Society.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 8:26 am on September 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , BNL NSLS II, Texas Southern University,   

    From BNL: “Texas Southern University Research Team Advances Safety, Efficiency at NSLS-II” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    August 29, 2017
    Stephanie Kossman

    1
    Mark Harvey (left), Kalifa Kelly (center), and Jesse Zapata (right) conducted research at the inner-shell spectroscopy beamline to improve safety and efficiency at NSLS-II.

    This summer, two student interns and their professor from Texas Southern University (TSU) are making a significant impact on the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory.


    BNL NSLS II

    By collecting and analyzing radiation detector data, the research team is helping to enhance the safety features and reduce the construction costs of future beamlines (experimental stations) built at NSLS-II.

    Jesse Zapata and Kalifa Kelly—two rising seniors at TSU, a historically black college and university—along with their professor, Mark Harvey, came to Brookhaven through the National Science Foundation Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (NSF-LSAMP) program and Brookhaven’s Office of Educational Programs (OEP). NSF-LSAMP works to increase the number of minority students earning baccalaureate and advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math [STEM].

    “Jesse and Kalifa are high achievers and high performers. My impression is that they are going to end up being leaders in the near future,” Harvey said. “The NSF-LSAMP program, OEP, and NSLS-II provided these students with the opportunity to conduct high quality, first-class research at a premier institution. The unique thing about their research here at Brookhaven is that the students played a major role in the study.”

    After weeks of detailed instruction by Harvey in radiation physics and safety, Zapata and Kelly, in collaboration with NSLS-II staff, designed an experiment to remotely measure radiation fields inside a first optical enclosure (FOE), where NSLS-II’s bright and powerful x-ray light is focused at each beamline. Concrete, lead, and tungsten shielding are used to protect NSLS-II staff from this energy, but shielding the entire FOE with these materials is a costly endeavor. The TSU team, with guidance from staff scientists at NSLS-II, sought to determine how shielding could be localized within the FOE, reducing the amount of material needed while maintaining its overall effectiveness.

    Zapata and Kelly worked with Harvey and NSLS-II staff to design a plan to place detectors in different locations throughout the FOE. “We had a big part in choosing what kind of detectors to use and where to place them,” Zapata said. “This has been a great learning experience for me.”

    The students and Harvey chose specific detectors to place at designated locations based on computerized models of the FOE radiation field created by Brookhaven radiation physicist Mo Benmerrouche. Then, they analyzed the data collected by these detectors over four weeks when NSLS-II was running, and developed a radiation map of the beamline that could be used by staff members at NSLS-II to design localized shielding for future beamlines.

    2
    Kalifa Kelly is shown collecting data at beamline 8-ID, where the TSU team conducted their experiments.

    NSLS-II currently has 28 beamlines in operation or under construction, but the facility is only halfway built out. That means the data measured by the TSU research team could impact the construction of more than 30 additional beamlines. The localized shielding that can now be designed based on the team’s work would reduce the cost of building these beamlines, improve their safety features, and make NSLS-II more attractive for individuals and organizations to come to Brookhaven to build new beamlines and conduct research.

    Harvey, Zapata, and Kelly are not only improving NSLS-II; the students are also gaining a novel skillset that could propel their careers into new and critical areas of science research.

    “There is a huge demand across many fields of science for people who are educated and trained in radiation safety,” said Klaus Attenkofer, program manager of the hard x-ray spectroscopy beamlines at NSLS-II.

    3
    Jesse Zapata is pictured analyzing x-ray detector data that the TSU team used to develop a radiation map.

    At the closing of their summer internship, Zapata and Kelly noted their work at Brookhaven has been a defining moment in their science education.

    “Being able to work with scientists who are experts in their fields has been a phenomenal experience for me.” Kelly said. “This experiment also taught me that just because you have an idea, it doesn’t mean you’re going to stick to that idea. You have to think outside the box when you’re doing research. This experience has pushed me to learn a lot in a short period of time.”

    Data for this project was recorded at the inner-shell spectroscopy (ISS) beamline 8-ID at NSLS-II. The ISS beamline is managed by Eli Stavitski and the hard x-ray spectroscopy program at NSLS-II is managed by Klaus Attenkofer. Additional support for this project was provided by Noel Blackburn, Deana Buckallew, Shawn Buckallew, Sean Carr, Sunil Chitra, Gregory Condemi, Henry Kahnhauser, Robert Lee, Andrew Levine, Subhash Sengupta, Reid Smith, Michelle Tolbert, Geraldine Townsend, Kimberly Wehunt and Bobby Wilson.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 1:47 pm on August 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2 years of operation and gains, , , BNL NSLS II, , ,   

    From BNL: “National Synchrotron Light Source II Celebrates Two Years of User Operations” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    August 28, 2017
    Stephanie Kossman

    BNL NSLS II

    In July of 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory wished a happy second birthday to the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II). Located at Brookhaven, NSLS-II is a DOE Office of Science User Facility that provides ultra-bright x-rays for cutting-edge science research.

    During its second year of user operations, NSLS-II reached significant milestones and added several beamlines that offer researchers exciting new capabilities across all fields of science. On July 17, the facility recorded 168 hours (seven days) of continuous beam, showcasing its stability and reliability. And on July 20, NSLS-II delivered user beam at 325 milliamps (mA) for the first time, creating the brightest light the facility has seen so far. Because NSLS-II is in its early years of operations, its level of brightness is still increasing; the goal is to reach 350 mA by the end of September.

    Reaching another milestone, NSLS-II named Joanna Krueger its 1000th lifetime user on June 28. A chemistry professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Krueger uses NSLS-II to study “sleeping beauty” transposase, an inactive enzyme found in fish that becomes active when inserted into human cells.

    “I am impressed by all the improvements: automation for data collection and fast data reduction,” Krueger said. “I have never seen my data reduced so fast—and I have been doing this work since the mid-nineties. I am very pleased with the facility and the assistance from the beamline staff. It is amazing.”

    BNL NSLS-II

    The great number and diversity of researchers using NSLS-II is a huge success, especially considering the still-growing facility is operating at less than half its capacity. There are currently 20 beamlines (experimental stations) in operation but, when completed, NSLS-II will have 60 beamlines. In other words, at least 60 different experiments could occur at the same time.

    Eight new beamlines were added to NSLS-II during its second year, expanding the facility’s reach into new fields of research and allowing scientists to conduct experiments using new techniques.

    3
    Joanna Krueger was named the 1000th user at NSLS-II on June 28. Krueger uses NSLS-II to study “sleeping beauty” transposase, an inactive enzyme found in fish that becomes active when inserted into human cells.

    The latest beamline to transition into operations was beamline 2-ID, which enables scientists to measure a sample’s response across a range of angles—nearly a full circle around the sample—using high-intensity soft x-rays. This technique is used to determine dynamics of electrons in a wide variety of materials.

    “This beamline will offer world-leading capabilities in terms of soft inelastic x-ray scattering,” said Qun Shen, Deputy Director for Science at NSLS-II. “It is going to be a really cutting-edge technique for studying dynamics and catalysis.”

    Beamline 2-ID is particularly notable for its ability to study light that bounces off individual atoms, but achieving world-class capabilities is the goal for every beamline at NSLS-II.

    Such is the case for 8-BM, a new beamline that uses tender x-rays to image and probe elements that are common in biological structures. 8-BM offers tender energy x-rays—x-rays with an energy from one kiloelectron volt (keV) to four keV—and, amongst other capabilities, allows scientists to study environmental questions – for example, how nuclear materials decay and affect the environment.

    “From five or six keV and up is relatively straightforward to achieve,” Shen said. “But very few beamlines around the world can put emphasis on the tender x-ray energy.”

    Another new beamline, 4-ID, started general user operations in July. This beamline combines the versatile control of beam size, energy, and polarization to enable real-time studies of materials growth and processing, measurements of the atomic structure of functional surfaces and interfaces, and characterization of the electronic order in quantum materials.

    Brookhaven is also partnering with outside institutions to fund the construction and operations of new beamlines at NSLS-II. For example, beamline 17-BM was established through a partnership with the Case Center for Synchrotron Biosciences at Case Western Reserve University. This beamline uses wide-beam x-rays to modify proteins and monitor their structural changes, a “footprinting” technique that was previously unavailable at NSLS-II.

    4
    Scientists Paul Northrup and Syed Khalid are pictured with beamline 8-BM, the new tender energy x-ray beamline at NSLS-II.

    One of NSLS-II’s biggest partners is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a government organization that promotes innovation and enhances industrial competitiveness in the U.S. NIST is funding the construction and operations of three beamlines at NSLS-II: two spectroscopy beamlines currently under construction, and beamline 6-BM, which had first light on July 25. At 6-BM, researchers can use x-ray absorption spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction to study how atoms stack together to make materials like batteries and computer chips.

    Other facilities within Brookhaven Lab are also working with NSLS-II on new beamlines, such as beamline 11-BM. This beamline was established through a partnership with Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials.

    “This is where scientists can do x-ray scattering in real time to see how thin films of nanostructures self-organize into something that may be very useful,” Shen said. “Before this beamline came on board, we didn’t have such a dedicated capability.”

    The beamlines at NSLS-II are continuously undergoing changes to improve and expand their functionality. At beamline 3-ID, for example, scientists developed a new imaging method that allows researchers to view an x-ray-transparent sample in real time with quantitative phase measurement.

    In addition to opening new beamlines and making new research techniques available to scientists, NSLS-II’s second year of operations was notable for important scientific breakthroughs. Researchers used beamline 8-ID to develop new cathode materials that could facilitate the mass production of sodium batteries. Another team of researchers used beamline 23-ID-1 to advance the study of high-temperature superconductivity, a phenomena that has baffled scientists for decades. The team discovered that static ordering of electrical charges may cooperate, rather than compete, with superconductivity.

    There is a bright future ahead for NSLS-II. 8 beamlines are currently under construction, and the NSLS-II team is working with the scientific community to develop the next set of beamlines to build. Other future plans for NSLS-II include streamlining logistics for users and making beam time available on multiple beamlines with a single proposal.

    “The last two years have been exciting as we have watched the NSLS-II user community grow and the numbers increase,” said Gretchen Cisco, User Administration Manager at NSLS-II. “We are continuously identifying ways to improve the NSLS-II user experience. Based on user feedback, we are updating the proposal allocation and scheduling system to make it easier to apply for beam time.”

    From its world-class beamlines to the accessibility for its users, NSLS-II has already distinguished itself as a pillar of synchrotron science.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 1:10 pm on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , BNL NSLS II, New diffractometer,   

    From BNL: “NSLS-II Welcomes New Tool for Studying the Physics of Materials” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    August 17, 2017
    Kelsey Harper
    kharper@bnl.gov

    Versatile instrument for precisely studying materials’ structural, electronic, magnetic characteristics arrives at Brookhaven Lab.

    1
    Beamline lead scientist Christie Nelson works with a diffractometer located at beamline 4-ID.

    A new instrument for studying the physics of materials using high intensity x-ray beams has arrived at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory. This new diffractometer, installed at beamline 4-ID at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), a DOE Office of Science User Facility that produces extremely bright beams of x-rays, will offer researchers greater precision when studying materials with unique structural, electronic, and magnetic characteristics. Understanding these materials’ properties could lead to better electronics, solar cells, or superconductors (materials that carry electricity with almost no energy loss).

    A diffractometer allows researchers to “see” the structure of a material by shooting highly focused x-rays at it and measuring how they diffract, or bounce off. According to Brookhaven physicist Christie Nelson, who worked with Huber X-Ray Diffraction Equipment to design the diffractometer, the new instrument has big advantages compared to one that operated at Brookhaven’s original light source, NSLS. Most significantly, it gives researchers additional ways to control where the beam hits the sample and how the x-rays are detected.

    In all diffractometers, both the sample and x-ray detector can rotate in certain directions to let researchers control where the beam hits the sample and where they measure the x-rays that bounce off. This diffractometer, however, has a uniquely large range of motion. The sample can rotate in four directions with extremely high precision, and in two of those directions it rotates much farther than in most other instruments. With this amount of control, researchers can target the precision of the x-ray beam to within 60 millionths of a meter.

    The instrument also has two detectors. While one allows users to quickly survey the overall structure of a sample, the other gives a zoomed-in view of the material’s subtler details. Since this diffractometer can have both detectors attached at the same time, researchers can quickly switch between these two views.

    “It’s a huge upgrade. There’s only one other like it in the world,” said Nelson, referring to a similar instrument at PETRA-III, an x-ray light source in Germany.

    DESY Petra III interior

    This diffractometer can also hold a cold chamber for looking at samples over a wide range of temperatures, all the way down to two Kelvin, or -271 degrees Celsius.

    “That’s crazy cold,” said Nelson—it’s just two degrees above “absolute zero,” the coldest anything can be.

    This cold chamber lets researchers study materials whose properties change with temperature. A research group from the University of California, Berkeley, has already used it to study superconductors, which need intense cold to function. The diffractometer allowed them to see fundamental changes in the material’s electronic structure as the temperature decreased.

    In the future, Nelson expects scientists will use the tool to examine materials at very high temperatures, under an electric or magnetic field, or in an environment with a custom atmosphere.

    “It’s a very versatile instrument,” said Nelson.

    2
    The newly acquired diffractometer before its installation at NSLS-II.

    The diffractometer additionally allows researchers to study magnetism. Similar to the way polarized sunglasses only let in light oriented in a certain direction, NSLS-II produces ‘polarized’ beams of x-rays that are all lined up the same way. When these x-rays interact with magnetic areas of a sample, their orientation shifts. The diffractometer can detect these subtle changes, allowing researchers to study a material’s different magnetic characteristics.

    A group from the University of Toronto used this feature to study the magnetic properties of “double perovskites.” Although these materials are structurally similar to those used in prototype solar cells, the Toronto group is most interested in their unique magnetic properties and potential applications in quantum computing and information storage.

    Nelson looks forward to welcoming future research teams to use the new instrument at NSLS-II. “It’s yet another tool that enables the cutting-edge discoveries that happen here,” she said.

    NSLS-II is funded by the DOE Office of Science.

    See the full article here .

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    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 10:50 am on August 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A less expensive and more efficient way of controlling x-ray beams, , , BNL NSLS II, , The devices are made from a single piece of copper   

    From BNL: “New Devices to Control X-rays are Less Expensive, Faster to Make” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    August 11, 2017
    Kelsey Harper
    kharper@bnl.gov

    Light sources around the world are starting to adopt these Brookhaven-designed devices.

    1
    Brookhaven engineer Sushil Sharma stands with the NSLS-II electron ring on the left and an x-ray beamline on the right.

    Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a less expensive and more efficient way of controlling x-ray beams used to study the intricate details of batteries, solar cells, proteins and all manner of materials. The new beam-shaping devices, invented by Brookhaven mechanical engineer Sushil Sharma, can be made from a single piece of copper, which dramatically reduces the time and complexity of their construction – and their cost. It’s no wonder that x-ray light sources around the world, including Brookhaven Lab’s National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), are beginning to choose the new designs over their more complex and expensive predecessors.

    BNL NSLS-II


    BNL NSLS-II

    Synchrotron light sources like NSLS-II, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, produce very powerful beams of x-rays by wiggling the path of electrons speeding through a circular ring at 99.99 percent the speed of light. The wiggles cause the electrons to emit x-rays, which are channeled into beamlines to allow scientists to study things we can’t see with the naked eye—from biological cells all the way down to single atoms. When NSLS-II is fully built, it will have more than sixty beamlines doing research on many diverse topics, from human proteins to artificial photosynthesis, advanced batteries, and interplanetary dust particles.

    “I find it exciting to work in a facility where research is happening that could change people’s lives in the future,” said Sharma.

    The beams of x-rays that NSLS-II produces, however, are very powerful and must be well-controlled to deliver the right intensity to each beamline. Numerous “beam-intercepting devices” take on this role, each performing a slightly different job: splitting up the beam, decreasing the beam’s size, or shielding heat-sensitive components from the x-rays.

    Conventionally, engineers constructed all of these devices using multiple parts—a middle portion made of a copper alloy, and stainless-steel end pieces that form a vacuum seal with the beamline. Unfortunately, this design requires time-intensive, high-temperature processes to put all the parts together, and an expensive proprietary copper alloy that can withstand the heat of production. According to Sharma, it takes anywhere from six to nine months to obtain the alloy and make these devices.

    “We’d been doing it this way for 25 years, but the whole process was time-consuming and not very reliable. It was a challenging problem for the light source facilities,” he said. “I started thinking—why don’t we make the entire piece from one material? It took some focused effort in design and testing, but this is the outcome.”


    A description of Sharma’s new design for beam-intercepting devices.

    With the help of NSLS-II engineers Christopher Amundsen, Frank DePaola, Lewis Doom, Muhammad Hussain, and Frank Lincoln in developing and testing the new devices, Sharma’s vision came to life. The new design gets rid of the stainless-steel end pieces—instead, the copper itself is shaped to make a tight vacuum seal with the beamline. As a result, the devices are made from a single piece of copper, eliminating the time-intensive, high-temperature processing and the need for a proprietary heat-resistant copper. In place of the costly material, the new design uses a widely available copper alloy sold at a quarter of the cost. Overall, Sharma’s design is half the price of the conventional devices, which ranged from $5,000 to $25,000 each.

    The one-piece design also significantly reduces production time. In 2016, this was put to the test at Brookhaven Lab when conventional devices that had been previously ordered failed to arrive due to manufacturing issues. Needing a quick replacement to get the beamline working, the Lab made the devices in an onsite machine shop using Sharma’s new design. It took them only ten days to produce three, whereas even the first step of obtaining the heat-resistant copper alloy for one conventional device could have taken months.

    A synchrotron light source the size of NSLS-II needs around 1,000 of these beam-intercepting devices, so this new design can save light sources considerable time, money, and effort. The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility—a light source similar in size to NSLS-II—has already commissioned four hundred devices using Sharma’s design.

    So far, NSLS-II has incorporated forty of the new devices into its beamlines. And, after a year of operation here at Brookhaven Lab, said Sharma, “the devices are still doing their jobs perfectly.”

    Sharma’s work at Brookhaven Lab is funded by the DOE Office of Science.

    See the full article here .

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    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 3:30 pm on June 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , BNL NSLS II, , , neutral sphingomyelinase (nSMase2) allow cancer cells to pass DNA and proteins to other cells to change their behavior, Stony Brook U   

    From Stony Brook: “Researchers Define Structure of Key Enzyme Implicated in Cancer, Neurological Disease” 

    Stoney Brook bloc

    Stoney Brook

    Jun 29, 2017
    No writer credit found

    1
    Stony Brook-led research into the structure of a key enzyme involved with cell growth regulation could offer important clues to understanding cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. The finding, published in PNAS, reveals the first visualization of the enzyme and could provide insight into how the enzyme is activated.

    The enzyme, neutral sphingomyelinase (nSMase2), is one of the major enzymes that produces ceramide in the body. Ceramides are oil-like lipids that are produced in response to chemotherapy and other cell stresses. The ceramides that nSMase2 produces allow cancer cells to pass DNA and proteins to other cells to change their behavior. This plays a significant role in aiding the cancerous cells to spread into other regions as ceramides are produced. With this first visual of the structure of the enzyme, the researchers hope to understand how to de-activate the enzyme. Information on de-activating the enzyme could lead to a way to design cancer drugs that inhibit nSMase2.

    The different colors of this structural visualization of nSMase2 indicate parts of the enzyme that may change their shape when the protein is switched ‘on,’ encouraging cancer cells to spread.

    “Our finding is promising because the way in which we determined the structure reveals an unexpected mechanism for how nSMase2 is activated to generate ceramide,” said Mike Airola, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and lead author. To obtain this structure, the researchers screened thousands of different samples to have this protein form very small crystals that could be captured visually via X-rays. These X-rays bounce off the protein, and based on the angle of movements they calculated what structure looks like.

    Once they defined structure in this way, the research team made hypotheses as to how the shape of this important enzyme changes in order to be activated and then tested these hypotheses. Their findings suggested the same region that kept nSMase2 off was crucial for turning it on.

    The researchers determined the enzyme consists of two parts: one that partitions inside the oil-like membrane and one that soluble in water. Their work with the structure revealed that to turn nSMase2 ‘on,’ these two parts come together to switch the enzyme from off to on. They found that by removing some of these parts, they were able to obtain a picture of the enzyme trapped in its ‘off’ state. Using the structure, Dr. Airola and colleagues added back different parts of the enzyme, and then they were able to turn it back on to its on, or activated state.

    Dr. Airola explained that while much is known about the cellular functions of nSMase2, there is limited scientific knowledge into the molecular mechanisms regulating its activity. This latest research presents the crystal structure of the enzyme and enabled the researchers to understand its molecular mechanism to a level not known before.

    The next step in their research is to get a picture of the enzyme in its activated ‘on’ state. They are also working to identify new scaffolds that could be used as drugs to inhibit this enzyme. Their long-term goal is to understand how this enzyme is turned on and stop it from working as potential therapeutic strategy.

    Co-authors on the paper include Stony Brook University researchers Lina M. Obeid, Yusuf A. Hannun and Can E. Senkal of the Stony Brook University Cancer Center; Miguel Garcia-Diaz and Kip Guja of the Department of Pharmacological Sciences; Prajna Shanbhogue and Rohan Maini of the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology; Achraf Shamseddine of the Department of Medicine; and Nana Bartke and Bill X. Wu of the Medical University of South Carolina.

    The research was supported in part by the National institutes of Health. Some of the research was completed with access to the facilities at the Synchrotron Light Source and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

    BNL NSLS-II


    BNL NSLS-II

    See the full article here .

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    Stoney Brook campus

    Stony Brook’s reach extends from its 1,039-acre campus on Long Island’s North Shore–encompassing the main academic areas, an 8,300-seat stadium and sports complex and Stony Brook Medicine–to Stony Brook Manhattan, a Research and Development Park, four business incubators including one at Calverton, New York, and the Stony Brook Southampton campus on Long Island’s East End. Stony Brook also co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, joining Princeton, the University of Chicago, Stanford, and the University of California on the list of major institutions involved in a research collaboration with a national lab.

    And Stony Brook is still growing. To the students, the scholars, the health professionals, the entrepreneurs and all the valued members who make up the vibrant Stony Brook community, this is a not only a great local and national university, but one that is making an impact on a global scale.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:24 am on June 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , BNL NSLS II, Bragg Projection Ptychography, Crystal lattice of nanoscale materials, Hard X-ray Nanoprobe (HXN) beamline at NSLS-II, , Stephan Hruszkewycz,   

    From BNL- “National Synchrotron Light Source II User Profile: Stephan Hruszkewycz” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    June 19, 2017
    Laura Mgrdichian
    mgrdichian@gmail.com

    1
    Stephan Hruszkewycz. No image credit.

    Stephan Hruskewycz is an assistant physicist in the Materials Science Division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

    While he regularly conducts research at Argonne’s own synchrotron user facility, the Advanced Photon Source (APS), his work on the nanoscale structure and behavior of materials has led him to book beamtime at the DOE’s newest synchrotron, the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II). Both NSLS-II and APS are DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

    ANL APS


    ANL APS

    BNL NSLS-II


    BNL NSLS II

    What are you studying at NSLS-II?

    The focus of our NSLS-II experiments has been to image defects and imperfections in the crystal lattice of nanoscale materials using a new imaging technique known as Bragg Projection Ptychography. Specifically, we have been studying stacking faults in nanowires made of III-V semiconductors, a class of semiconductor that results from the combination of elements from column III on the periodic table (mainly aluminum, gallium, and indium) and column V (nitrogen, phosphorous, arsenic, and antimony). These materials have properties that make them excellent for certain applications; for example, solar cells made of III-V cells are very efficient.

    During our next run, we will be imaging strain fields in complex oxide thin-film nanostructures. These classes of materials have potential uses for energy conversion in solar and fuel cell applications, and their nanoscale structure plays a large role in performance. By studying these structures in detail, we may be able to figure out how to make these materials perform better.

    Why is NSLS-II is particularly suited to your work?

    The Hard X-ray Nanoprobe (HXN) beamline at NSLS-II delivers a coherent hard x-ray beam focused to a few tens of nanometers and the ability to rotate the sample and detector to enable Bragg diffraction with a nanofocused beam. We are capitalizing on the coherence and stability of the focused beam to convert a series of Bragg diffraction patterns measured from different overlapping positions of the sample into an image of the lattice structure inside a specific region of the crystal. The result provides an image with a resolution down to just a few nanometers, as well as picometer-level sensitivity to lattice distortions.

    Tell us about your background and how you arrived at this field of research.

    I have been interested for some time in developing new methods to exploit coherent hard x-rays to reveal of the structure and dynamics of materials. Recently, I have focused on applying these methods to materials with inhomogeneous internal lattice structures that dictate their overall properties, such as nanostructured oxide thin films and semiconductors. To me, this is an exciting area of research, one where cutting-edge materials science questions can be answered with new x-ray imaging methods at state-of-the-art synchrotron sources that deliver highly coherent beams.

    Who else is involved in this work?

    So far, I have been joined at NSLS-II by Megan Hill, a graduate student in Northwestern University’s Materials Science and Engineering Department; Martin Holt, a staff scientist in Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials; and Brian Stephenson, a senior physicist in Argonne’s Materials Science Division.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 10:06 am on June 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , BNL NSLS II, , , Improve the performance of fuel cells that run on hydrogen fuel but can be poisoned by CO, , Peking University, Taiyuan University of Technology China   

    From BNL: “New Efficient, Low-Temperature Catalyst for Converting Water and CO to Hydrogen Gas and CO2” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    June 22, 2017
    Karen McNulty Walsh
    kmcnulty@bnl.gov
    (631) 344-8350

    Peter Genzer
    genzer@bnl.gov
    (631) 344-3174

    Low-temperature “water gas shift” reaction produces high levels of pure hydrogen for potential applications, including fuel cells.

    1
    Brookhaven Lab chemists Ping Liu and José Rodriguez helped to characterize structural and mechanistic details of a new low-temperature catalyst for producing high-purity hydrogen gas from water and carbon monoxide. No image credit.

    Scientists have developed a new low-temperature catalyst for producing high-purity hydrogen gas while simultaneously using up carbon monoxide (CO). The discovery—described in a paper set to publish online in the journal Science on Thursday, June 22, 2017—could improve the performance of fuel cells that run on hydrogen fuel but can be poisoned by CO.

    “This catalyst produces a purer form of hydrogen to feed into the fuel cell,” said José Rodriguez, a chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory. Rodriguez and colleagues in Brookhaven’s Chemistry Division—Ping Liu and Wenqian Xu—were among the team of scientists who helped to characterize the structural and mechanistic details of the catalyst, which was synthesized and tested by collaborators at Peking University in an effort led by Chemistry Professor Ding Ma.

    Because the catalyst operates at low temperature and low pressure to convert water (H2O) and carbon monoxide (CO) to hydrogen gas (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2), it could also lower the cost of running this so-called “water gas shift” reaction.

    “With low temperature and pressure, the energy consumption will be lower and the experimental setup will be less expensive and easier to use in small settings, like fuel cells for cars,” Rodriguez said.

    The gold-carbide connection

    The catalyst consists of clusters of gold nanoparticles layered on a molybdenum-carbide substrate. This chemical combination is quite different from the oxide-based catalysts used to power the water gas shift reaction in large-scale industrial hydrogen production facilities.

    “Carbides are more chemically reactive than oxides,” said Rodriguez, “and the gold-carbide interface has good properties for the water gas shift reaction; it interacts better with water than pure metals.”

    2
    Wenqian Xu and José Rodriguez of Brookhaven Lab and Siyu Yao, then a student at Peking University but now a postdoctoral research fellow at Brookhaven, conducted operando x-ray diffraction studies of the gold-molybdenum-carbide catalyst over a range of temperatures (423 Kelvin to 623K) at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) at Brookhaven Lab. The study revealed that at temperatures above 500K, molybdenum-carbide transforms to molybdenum oxide, with a reduction in catalytic activity. No image credit

    “The group at Peking University discovered a new synthetic method, and that was a real breakthrough,” Rodriguez said. “They found a way to get a specific phase—or configuration of the atoms—that is highly active for this reaction.”

    Brookhaven scientists played a key role in deciphering the reasons for the high catalytic activity of this configuration. Rodriguez, Wenqian Xu, and Siyu Yao (then a student at Peking University but now a postdoctoral research fellow at Brookhaven) conducted structural studies using x-ray diffraction at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) while the catalyst was operating under industrial or technical conditions.

    BNL NSLS

    These operando experiments revealed crucial details about how the structure changed under different operating conditions, including at different temperatures.

    With those structural details in hand, Zhijun Zuo, a visiting professor at Brookhaven from Taiyuan University of Technology, China, and Brookhaven chemist Ping Liu helped to develop models and a theoretical framework to explain why the catalyst works the way it does, using computational resources at Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN).

    “We modeled different interfaces of gold and molybdenum carbide and studied the reaction mechanism to identify exactly where the reactions take place—the active sites where atoms are binding, and how bonds are breaking and reforming,” she said.

    Additional studies at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS), the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and two synchrotron research facilities in China added to the scientists’ understanding.

    “This is a multipart complex reaction,” said Liu, but she noted one essential factor: “The interaction between the gold and the carbide substrate is very important. Gold usually bonds things very weakly. With this synthesis method we get stronger adherence of gold to molybdenum carbide in a controlled way.”

    That configuration stabilizes the key intermediate that forms as the reaction proceeds, and the stability of that intermediate determines the rate of hydrogen production, she said.

    The Brookhaven team will continue to study this and other carbide catalysts with new capabilities at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), a new facility that opened at Brookhaven Lab in 2014, replacing NSLS and producing x-rays that are 10,000 times brighter.

    BNL NSLS-II

    With these brighter x-rays, the scientists hope to capture more details of the chemistry in action, including details of the intermediates that form throughout the reaction process to validate the theoretical predictions made in this study.

    The work at Brookhaven Lab was funded by the U.S. DOE Office of Science.

    Additional funders for the overall research project include: the National Basic Research Program of China, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China, Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China, and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

    NSLS, NSLS-II, CFN, CNMS, and ALS are all DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 3:22 pm on June 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , BNL NSLS II, Dynamic boundary, Liquid crystal study, , , Phononic or optomechanical applications, , Scattering angle, Tracking dynamic molecular features in soft materials including the high-frequency molecular vibrations that transmit waves of heat sound and other forms of energy, Tuning the structure   

    From BNL: “X-ray Study Reveals Way to Control Molecular Vibrations that Transmit Heat” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    June 6, 2017
    Karen McNulty Walsh
    kmcnulty@bnl.gov
    (631) 344-8350

    Peter Genzer
    genzer@bnl.gov
    (631) 344-3174

    Findings open new pathway for “tuning” materials to ease or insulate against the flow of heat, sound, and other forms of energy.

    1
    Brookhaven Lab members of the research team at the IXS beamline of the National Synchrotron Light Source II, left to right: Dima Bolmatov, Alessandro Cunsolo, Mikhail Zhernenkov, Ronald Pindak (sitting), Alexei Suvorov (sitting), and Yong Cai. The circular track accommodates utility cables and allows the arm housing the detectors to move to different locations to select the scattering angle for the measurement.

    Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new way to track dynamic molecular features in soft materials, including the high-frequency molecular vibrations that transmit waves of heat, sound, and other forms of energy. Controlling these vibrational waves in soft materials such as polymers or liquid crystal compounds could lead to a range of energy-inspired innovations—from thermal and acoustic insulators, to ways to convert waste heat into electricity, or light into mechanical motion.

    In a paper just published in Nano Letters, the scientists describe using the newly constructed inelastic x-ray scattering (IXS) beamline at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), which has unprecedented energy resolution, to monitor the propagation of vibrations through a liquid crystal compound in three different phases.


    BNL NSLS-II

    Their findings show that the nanoscale structural changes that occur with increasing temperature—as the liquid crystals become less ordered—dramatically disrupt the flow of vibrational waves. Thus choosing or changing the “phase,” or arrangement of molecules, could control the vibrations and the flow of energy.

    “By tuning the structure, we can change the dynamic properties of this material,” said Brookhaven physicist Dima Bolmatov, the paper’s lead author.

    The technique could also be used to study dynamic processes in other soft systems such as biological membranes or any kind of complex fluid.

    “For example, we could look at how the lipid molecules in a cell membrane cooperate with each other to create tiny porous regions where even smaller molecules, like oxygen or carbon dioxide, can pass through—to see how gas exchange operates in gills and lungs,” Bolmatov said.

    The ability to track such fast dynamic properties would not be possible without the unique capabilities of NSLS-II—a DOE Office of Science User Facility at Brookhaven Lab. NSLS-II produces extremely bright x-rays for studies in a wide range of scientific fields.

    At the IXS beamline, scientists bombard samples with these x-rays and measure the energy they give up or gain with a precision to within two thousandths of an electron volt, as well as the angle at which they scatter off the sample—even at very small angles.

    The energy exchange tells us how much energy it took to make some molecules vibrate in a wave-like motion. The scattering angle probes the vibrations propagating over different length scales inside the sample—from nearly a single molecule to tens of nanometers. The new IXS beamline at NSLS-II can resolve those length scales with unprecedented precision,” said Yong Cai, the lead scientist of the IXS beamline.

    “These two parameters—the scattering angle and the energy—have never before been so well measured in soft materials. So the technical properties of this beamline enable us to precisely locate the vibrations and track their propagation in different directions over different length scales—even in materials that lack a well-ordered solid structure,” he added.

    2
    The colorful scattering pattern at left reveals molecular level structural information about the layered smectic phase of a liquid crystal material. The inner arcs indicate that the molecules are arrayed in ordered layers with regular spacing, while the outer arcs indicate there is still liquid-like mobility within the layers. The graph (top, right) represents inelastic x-ray scattering measurements from this smectic phase. Each peak (pink, orange, purple) represents a unique vibrational motion moving through the material, where the two “bumps” that make up each peak represent the energy gained or lost by the vibration. The purple and orange vibrations match the frequency of sound waves while the third, pink, vibration is linked to the tilt of the molecules (bottom, right). The out-of-phase rocking back-and-forth of these molecules matches the frequency of infrared light (heat).

    In the liquid crystal study, the Brookhaven Lab scientists and their collaborators at Kent State University and the University at Albany made measurements at three different temperatures as the material went from an ordered, crystalline phase through transitions to a less-ordered “smectic” state, and finally an “isotropic” liquid. They easily detected the propagation of vibrational waves through the most ordered phase, and showed that the emergence of disorder “killed” the propagation of low energy “acoustic shear” vibrations. Acoustic shear vibrations are associated with a compression of the molecules in a direction perpendicular to the direction of propagation.

    “Knowing where the dynamic boundary is—between the material behaving like an ordered solid and a disordered soft material—gives us a way to control the transmission of energy at the nanoscale,” Bolmatov said.

    In the “smectic” phase, the scientists also observed a vibration that was associated instead with molecular tilt. This type of vibration can interact with light and absorb it because the terahertz frequency of the vibrations matches the frequency of infrared light or heat waves. So changing the material properties can control the way these forms of energy move through the material. Those changes can be achieved by changing the temperature of the material, as was done in this experiment, but also by applying external electric or magnetic fields, Bolmatov said.

    This paves the way for new so-called phononic or optomechanical applications, where sound or light is coupled with the mechanical vibrations. Such coupling makes it possible to control a material by applying external light and sound or vice versa.

    “We’re all familiar with applications using the optical properties of liquid crystals in display screens,” Bolmatov said. “We’ve found new properties that can be controlled or manipulated for new kinds of applications.”

    The team will continue studies of soft materials at IXS, including planned experiments with block copolymers, nanoparticle assemblies, lipid membranes, and other liquid crystals over the summer.

    “The IXS beamline is also now opened to external users—including scientists interested in these and other soft materials and biological processes,” said Cai.

    The research team included Dima Bolmatov, Mikhail Zhernenkov, Alexey Suvorov, Ronald Pindak, Yong Cai, and Alessandro Cunsolo of NSLS-II, and Lewis Sharpnack, Deña M. Agra-Kooijman of Kent State University, and Satyendra Kumar of the University at Albany .

    This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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