Neutron Science In the News – 2008
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Knoxville News Sentinel 10/29
When the Spallation Neutron Source was in the proposal stage and under construction, its supporters said the $1.4 billion research complex would eventually attract about 2,000 scientists a year to Oak Ridge to perform experiments and otherwise do their thing. That number, as I recall, was lumped together with researchers at the recently upgraded High Flux Isotope Reactor — Oak Ridge National Laboratory's "other" billion-dollar research facility. The user projection may also have included the new $65 million nanoscience facility, known as the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences. Anyway, the numbers aren't there. Not yet. Not by a long shot, according to statistics given to me last week by Ian Anderson, ORNL's associate lab director for neutron sciences.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory are part of collaborative team that's used a brand new instrument at the DOE's Spallation Neutron Source to probe iron-arsenic compounds, the "hottest" new find in the race to explain and develop superconducting materials. The Spallation Neutron Source – SNS for short – is the DOE's sprawling new $1.4 billion complex operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the rolling green hills of eastern Tennessee. The SNS uses a pulsed neutron beam to provide information about the structure and dynamics of materials that cannot be obtained from X-rays or electron microscopes. Although neutral in electrical charge, neutrons interact with the nucleus. The neutron's magnetic moment can also interact with magnetic spins in a material. As neutrons from the beam pass through a material, they scatter off the nuclei and spins. By measuring the speed and angle of the scattered neutrons, scientists are able to develop detailed information about the positions and the motion of the nuclei and spins within the material.
Science Daily 10/9
New analytical tools coming on line at the Spallation Neutron Source, the Department of Energy's state-of-the-art neutron science facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, include a beam line dedicated to nuclear physics studies. The Fundamental Neutron Physics Beam Line (FNPB) has opened its shutter to receive neutrons for the first time. Among the nuclear physics studies planned for the new, intense beam line are experiments that probe the neutron-related mysteries associated with the "Big Bang." "Completion of the Fundamental Neutron Physics Beam Line marks a significant step in the SNS's ramp up to full power, building up to its eventual suite of 25 instruments for neutron analysis," said ORNL Director Thom Mason, who led the SNS construction project to its completion. "The nuclear physics community is excited to have this new tool for exploring theories of the origins of the universe."
Science Now, 9/29
U.S. science agencies will receive no budget increases until March 2009 at the earliest after Congress voted over the weekend to freeze spending for every federal program outside of national security and veterans affairs. For many agencies, that means a second year of little or no growth...Oak Ridge National Laboratory director Thom Mason says the flat budget keeps his lab at a "survival level" until next March...The funding doldrums is also slowing the scaling-up of the lab's 2-year-old Spallation Neutron Source to meet its targeted operating level of 1.4 megawatts. "It makes experiments more difficult as well as more lengthy," he says.
ILC Newsline, 9/18
A few weeks ago, while at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a panelist at the National Science and Technology Summit, I had the opportunity to visit the recently completed Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science has funded the construction of this new 1.4-billion-dollar accelerator-based neutron source, which provides the world's most intense pulsed neutron beams for scientific research and industrial development. This project promises to move neutron science into a new era and both the execution of the project and some key technologies are of important to our efforts towards the International Linear Collider.
Knoxville News Sentinel, 9/11
In today's column, I mentioned that a delegation from Sweden was at ORNL last week to learn a bit more about SNS and its impacts, etc. Well, a delegation from Denmark apparently was in before them, for much the same. The Scandinavian folks are teaming in hopes of acquiring a European version of the SNS known as ESS (European Spallation Source).Earlier this week, I talked on the phone with Ian Anderson, ORNL's neutron sciences chief, to try to catch up on a few things, including the European activity and the latest with SNS. The other competitors for the ESS, by the way, are Spain and Hungary. Anderson said the goings-on in Europe won't negatively affect the Oak Ridge science center. It seems there's plenty of demand for neutrons to do experiments.
Knoxville News Sentinel, 8/27
The folks at the Spallation Neutron Source are trying to predict failure. In fact, they've got a betting pool going, although I've been assured there's no money involved. It's just a friendly professional challenge. Let me explain. One of the key components at the SNS - OK, probably the key component - is the 20-ton mercury target, which is pounded 60 times a second by a powerful proton beam. Each pulse results in hundreds of trillions of neutrons being released from the liquid heavy metal. Those neutrons are then diverted to a series of research instruments, where they are used for experiments with materials.
Los Alamos Daily News Bulletin, 7/31
Los Alamos Neutron Science Center researchers are collaborating with colleagues from Oak Ridge National Laboratory to study and mitigate target erosion problems that could affect the success of Oak Ridge's Spallation Neutron Source. "It's a very nice example of labs working together on an experiment," said Steve Wender of Neutron and Nuclear Science (LANSCE-NS). Oak Ridge scientist Bernie Riemer agreed. "This is a wonderful collaboration," he said. The SNS is the world's most powerful pulsed accelerator-based neutron source for materials and biological research. One of the greatest collaborative efforts in U.S scientific history involving six Department of Energy national laboratories -- Los Alamos, Argonne, Brookhaven, Jefferson, Lawrence Berkeley, and Oak Ridge -- the project accelerates a proton beam at more than 1 megawatt to produce intense pulsed neutron beams for scientific research, Wender said.
Knoxville News Sentinel, 7/28
The same right?
Concrete is concrete, right? Oh, no, no, no. When constructing the Spallation Neutron Source, the Oak Ridge folks imported some really special aggregate materials from Brazil to make the concrete walls super protective in high-rad areas of the Experiment Hall. And it wasn't cheap, either. Frank Kornegay, operations manager at SNS, said the heavy-duty concrete with aggregate from Brazil cost about $1,200 per cubic yard delivered at the time of the construction. That compared with $59 a yard for the regular stuff, he said.It's a good thing that SNS was built when it was. The high-density concrete now costs about $1,800 per cubic yard, Kornegay said. During a visit to the earlier this year, yours truly got a chance to check out monolith samples of the two types of concrete (see above photo). The rosy one on the left weighs almost twice at much as the one on the right. It's a pretty dramatic difference.
Knoxville News Sentinel, 7/16
The High Flux Isotope Reactor was restarted this a.m. following an outage for maintenance and refueling, and it achieved full power (85 megawatts) sometime around noon. Ron Crone, the division director, said the research programs at HFIR are going gang-busters, with scientific users flocking to Oak Ridge to perform neutron-scattering experiments. The goal for the entire year was to have 225 users at the reactor, and by the end of the last fuel cycle that number had already reached 192, he said. "At the beginning of the year, we thought that number was an ambitious goal," Crone said, noting that it now appear the target will be surpassed within the next month.
Knoxville News Sentinel, 7/9
The Dept. of Energy confirmed last week that about $2 milliion of the Office of Science's supplemental appropriation would go to the SNS. According to ORNL's neutron boss, Ian Anderson, that money "will be used to ensure that we don't have to curtail operations due to the rising utility costs within a flat-funding scenario. This just covers more or less our projected increased utility costs."
GE Energy, manufacturer of Reuter Stokes radiation detection equipment, has signed a technology transfer agreement to market the electronics and software associated with the SNS 8Pack neutron detector system, an award-winning design for a system of sensitive neutron detectors developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The SNS 8Pack is a compact neutron detection system that was developed for the Department of Energy's Spallation Neutron Source, a record-setting neutron science facility located at ORNL. The SNS electronics can determine both the time and position of the neutron captured, enabling very accurate neutron time-of-flight measurements. It has large-area detector coverage, extremely low power requirements and digital communication capability.
The world of physics is on fire about a new kind of superconductor, and a group of researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory led by physicist Pengcheng Dai are in the middle of the heat. The excitement centers around a new class of high-temperature superconductors -- initially discovered in February and March by Japanese and Chinese researchers -- and the effort to learn more about them. Dai and his team published major new findings about the materials in this week's online edition of the leading scientific journal Nature.
Business Wire, 5/28
In the Special Projects category, Merrick received the Grand Award for the Spallation Neutron Source Target Hot Cell project based in Oak Ridge, TN. Merrick provided detailed design work on a first-of-a-kind and one-of-a-kind shielded hot cell and associated support systems. The Spallation Neutron Source Target Hot Cell facility generates the world’s most powerful pulsed neutron beams, which are critical in the advancement of material science and molecular research. Neutron research helps scientists improve materials used in a multitude of products such as high-temperature super-conductors, powerful magnets, aluminum bridge decks, and stronger, lighter plastic.
Technically speaking, the $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source is the world's most powerful accelerator-based source of neutrons – but the people who run the sprawling facility prefer to think of it as one of the highest-resolution microscopes ever built. "You can think of this as a better, and better, and better digital camera," operations manager Frank Kornegay said last week, during a tour of the 80-acre site at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. "You can actually see electrons change state." These snapshots aren't just for fun, however. The neutron-scattering patterns produced by the device show how materials ranging from industrial alloys to drug molecules are structured at the molecular level – and how they hold up under stressful conditions.
Knoxville News Sentinel, 3/25
Late this afternoon, Kelly Beierschmitt, ORNL's director of nuclear operations, said the High Flux Isotope Reactor will be restarted Wednesday morning as scheduled. The reactor has been shut down since early March for refueling and maintenance. "We got a tremendous amount of work done on the facilities and (research) instruments," Beierschmitt said. One big deal was replacing a neutron detector on the SANS (small-angle neutron scattering) instrument, he said. Apparently, the reactor's intense neutron beam caused more damage earlier than expected for the relatively new instrument, following the installation of a cold source and refrubishment of the reactor last year. Beierschmitt said a neutron detector was transferred to Oak Ridge from the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
The Department of Energy's Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's most powerful pulsed neutron spallation source.The SNS recently ramped up beam power to more than 300 kilowatts, producing 4.8 x 10e 16 neutrons per second. The SNS is currently sending neutrons to five instruments of an eventual 24, and its first article has been accepted in Physical Review Letters and is expected to be published soon. With an eventual beam power of 1.4 megawatts, every time the SNS ramps up, it will set a new neutron production standard.
Tennessee Lab Breaks a Physics Record
The Americans have bested the Brits again — this time in physics. In an accomplishment that promises to lead to new drugs, energy advances and other benefits, Tennessee's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has become the world's most powerful source of pulsed neutrons. The $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source's linear accelerator produces a proton beam that strikes a mercury target and creates a stream of subatomic neutrons that are used to study the structure and dynamics of materials. The beam reached 310 kilowatts, in late January, nearly doubling the 163-kilowatt record held by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, England. Oak Ridge now holds the Guinness World Record. "This is basically confirming what we did in January," lab spokesman Bill Cabage said Monday. "We confirmed the record."
Knoxville News Sentinel, 2/13
The Spallation Neutron Source is one of the world's leading centers for materials research, offering unprecedented levels of neutrons to do experiments. It also has become a symbol of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's success in the 21st century...For those for may have forgotten this little tidbit: The Spallation Neutron Source was developed as a partnership of six national laboratories. Besides Oak Ridge, the others were Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos and Thomas Jefferson. ORNL, of course, was the host site, and after the work was done, the lab took over as owner and manager...If there had ever been a grand opening for a grand project, which there wasn't, each of the labs undoubtedly would have been thanked for their contributions. This week, however, Los Alamos got just the opposite. The New Mexico lab got a spanking.
Knoxville News Sentinel, 2/8
UT-Battelle scored straight A's on its latest report card for managing Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the contractor will receive almost $10.4 million in fees for fiscal 2007. The partnership of the University of Tennessee and Battelle Memorial Institute received 97 percent of the maximum fee available ($10.7 million) from the U.S. Department of Energy. UT-Battelle had one of the highest scores, if not the highest, among all DOE contractors. Gerald Boyd, DOE's Oak Ridge manager, praised UT-Battelle accomplishments in a letter to ORNL Director Thom Mason. He cited the work at the Spallation Neutron Source, which added three new research instruments in 2007 and set a world record for beam power, and improvements at the High Flux Isotope Reactor.
Knoxville News Sentinel, 2/5
The proposed federal budget for 2009 would funnel about $3 billion to Oak Ridge, with most of the major programs here in solid shape. "This is a very good budget for Oak Ridge," Gerald Boyd, the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge manager, said Monday. ORNL Director Thom Mason said the lab's major research facilities - such as the Spallation Neutron Source, the High Flux Isotope Reactor, Center for Computational Sciences and the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences - would do well under the president's proposed 2009 budget.
Knoxville News Sentinel, 1/30
Yes, indeed, the beam power at the Spallation Neutron Source last week reached 310 kilowatts. Some of you may remember that last summer, during a visit by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and other luminaries, Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced the SNS had reached 183 kw and surpassed the previous record (160 kw) held by the ISIS facility in the United Kingdom. Since then, of course, the SNS sets a new world record every time the beam power increases, and Ian Anderson, ORNL's associate lab director for neutron sciences, told me the SNS might reach 340 kw before the end of the week.
The Daily Beacon, 1/09
The opening session of the 2008 National Science Foundation Engineering Conference attracted Gov. Phil Bredesen, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale and UT system President John Petersen to the Knoxville Convention Center Jan. 8. The conference, sponsored by the NSF Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation, runs Jan. 7-10, and UT's College of Engineering is hosting it this year. Dr. Way Kuo, dean of engineering and chairman of the event, said there are at least 1,200 participants, which include scientists, funding leaders and students...Ragsdale and Haslam also addressed conference attendees and said they were proud of the technical sites available in East Tennessee, such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Spallation Neutron Source, Siemens Molecular Imaging and the Y-12 National Security Complex. The attendees said the region is on its way to becoming a leader in science and technology.
Knoxville News Sentinel, 1/09
The Center for Nanophase Materials Science at Oak Ridge National Laboratory was the first of five federally funded nanoscience research facilities to come into being within the past couple of years, and it's also been the busiest. According to ORNL officials, the new lab attracted about 300 scientific users during fiscal 2007 - surpassing the goal and pretty much stretching the capabilities of the lab in its first full year of operations. That's impressive, and the $65 million facility, which is directed by Linda Horton, is getting good marks from people in high places.