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Geek-Up[3.18.2011]: Catalytically Active Material and BELLA

March 18, 2011 - 3:54pm

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PNNL scientists Grant Johnson and Julia Laskin | Photo Courtesy of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

PNNL scientists Grant Johnson and Julia Laskin | Photo Courtesy of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Thanks to an innovative approach from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers, Julia Laskin and Grant Johnson, scientists can now create an efficient, easy-to-separate catalyst with small amounts of material. How did they do it?

Laskin and Johnson used collisions between ions and molecules within a mass spectrometer to manipulate ruthenium-centered ions in the gas phase. The resulting highly reactive ions, which cannot be easily developed in solution, were then gently deposited onto a selected surface. The product? A catalytically active material that may help advance fuel cell and solar energy storage applications.

What’s next for Laskin and Johnson?

The team continues to investigate possibilities of generating new catalytic species in the gas phase, furthering the development of more efficient, cheaper catalysts.

Learn more here.


When Albert Einstein was 16 years old he conducted an experiment in imagination – he pictured himself riding along in a frame moving with a beam of light. Ten years later, this line of thinking proved inspirational as he developed his Theory of Special Relativity.

At Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Accelerator and Fusion Research Division, a team of researchers led by Jean-Luc Vay, borrowed a line from Einstein to advance the 3-D simulation capabilities of the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) using a “boosted-frame” method. Through this method, Vay’s team achieved full 3-D simulations of a BELLA stage in just a few hours of supercomputer time, calculations that would have been beyond achievable just two years ago.

A simulation of laser-plasma acceleration in the laboratory frame | Courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

In fact, for such a compact accelerator, in just one meter a single BELLA stage will accelerate an electron beam to 10 billion electron volts, a fifth the energy achieved by the two-mile long linear accelerator at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Learn more about BELLA and the “boosted-frame” method here >

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