What’s the DOE Up to?

Reaction of minerals with CO2   Credit:  Pacific National Laboratory/US Department of Energy
Reaction of minerals with CO2 Credit: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory/US Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, funded by the U.S .Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences, is studying how minerals react to carbon dioxide gas at low temperatures.  .  This image was captures with a helium ion microscope and shows two minerals (forsterite in gray and blue and dypingite in orange and yellow) after reacting with fluid-like supercritical CO2 for 43 days at 50 degrees Celsius.   Why?  To inform efforts to capture and store CO2 and other greenhouse gases deep underground.

Penicillium fungus on plant roots.  Credit:  PNNL/DOE
Penicillium fungus on plant roots. Credit: PNNL/DOE

National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy are funding a study of biogeochemistry of plant-microbe-soil interactions.   The work  is expanding our understanding of how to provide nutrients to plants by mineral dissolution assisted by microbes.

Nanofibers captured with a helium ion microscope.  Credit: PNNL/DOE
Nanofibers captured with a helium ion microscope. Credit: PNNL/DOE

Nanofibers are an exciting new frontier of science.  The fibers shown in the photo above, created by team members from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, are helping to advance the design of novel metal alloy anodes.  The anodes are expected to improve the effectiveness of sodium-ion batteries and to lead to low-cost energy storage solutions for the nation.  The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Science program.

Zinc oxide nanostructures.  Credit:  PNNL/DOE
Zinc oxide nanostructures. Credit: PNNL/DOE

Zinc oxide is a unique and versatile semiconductor material that’s attracting attention due to its potential applications in a wide range of technologically important fields, including electronics, spintronics and radiation detection.  Nanostructures of zinc oxide offer promise for miniaturizing electronic devices.  The image was captured with a helium ion microscope.  The project is funded by the DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research with additional research partners at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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