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First Photons Detected at NSLS-II

team of scientists, engineers, and technicians at the Coherent Soft X-ray Scattering (CSX) beamline

The team of scientists, engineers, and technicians at the Coherent Soft X-ray Scattering (CSX) beamline gathered around the control station to watch as group leader Stuart Wilkins (seated, front) opened the shutter between the beamline and the storage ring, allowing x-rays to enter the first optical enclosure for the first time.

The brightest synchrotron light source in the world has delivered its first x-ray beams. Brookhaven Lab’s National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) achieved “first light” on October 23, 2014, when operators opened the shutter to begin commissioning the first experimental station (beamline) allowing powerful x-rays to travel to a phosphor detector and capture the facility’s first photons. While considerable work remains to realize the full potential of the new facility, first light counts as an important step on the road to facility commissioning.

“This is a significant milestone for Brookhaven Lab, for the Department of Energy, and for the nation,” said DOE Associate Director of Science for Basic Energy Science Harriet Kung. “The National Synchrotron Light Source II will foster new discoveries and create breakthroughs in crucial areas of national need, including energy security and the environment. This new U.S. user facility will advance the Department’s mission and play a leadership role in enabling and producing high-impact research for many years to come.”

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Tackling Big Data Challenges

Blue Gene/Q Supercomputer

Blue Gene/Q Supercomputer at Brookhaven National Laboratory

Building on its capabilities in computational science and data management, Brookhaven Lab is embarking upon a major new Computational Science Initiative (CSI). This program will leverage computational science expertise and investments across multiple programs at the Lab, including the flagship facilities that attract thousands of scientific users each year, further establishing Brookhaven as a leader in tackling the big data challenges at the frontiers of scientific discovery. Key partners in this endeavor include nearby universities such as Columbia, Cornell, New York University, Stony Brook, and Yale, and IBM Research.

A centerpiece of the initiative will be a new Center for Data-Driven Discovery (C3D) that will serve as a focal point for this activity. Within the Laboratory, it will drive the integration of intellectual, programmatic, and data/computational infrastructure with the goals of accelerating and expanding discovery by developing critical mass in key disciplines, enabling nimble response to new opportunities for discovery or collaboration, and ultimately integrating the tools and capabilities across the entire Lab into a single scientific resource. Outside the Lab, C3D will serve as a focal point for recruiting, collaboration, and communication.

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Toyota Using CFN to Explore Real-time Electrochemical Reactions

Feng Wang

Brookhaven Lab scientist Feng Wang of Brookhaven Lab's Sustainable Energy Technologies Department, who will lead the collaboration with Zhang's team at CFN.

Future fleets of electric vehicles will require high-capacity batteries that recharge rapidly, degrade very little over time, and operate safely. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries—similar to the ones found inside portable electronics—currently lead the charge, but not without significant problems.

In rechargeable batteries, ions are shuttled back and forth between the oppositely charged anode and cathode—flow in one direction generates electricity (discharge), while applying external voltage causes flow in the other (charge). Magnesium ions carry twice the intrinsic charge of lithium ions, meaning they store and deliver more energy. But as those ions move during each cycle, the billionth-of-a-meter structure of the battery material degrades and transforms.

The degradation rates and patterns must be probed in a variety of conditions to understand the underlying mechanisms. Once pinpointed, scientists can then design new atomic architectures or customized compounds that overcome these obstacles to extend battery lifetimes and optimize performance.

“Issues related to cost, power, energy density, and durability of Li-ion batteries have slowed their implementation in large-scale applications, such as electric and hybrid vehicles,” said Ruigang Zhang, a Toyota Motor Corporation scientist specializing in energy storage technology. “A rechargeable magnesium (Mg) battery system is one interesting candidate that offers much greater earth abundance than lithium and higher storage capacity—but the necessary research remains a challenge.”

To probe molecular structures and track the rapid chemical reactions in these promising batteries, Zhang and colleagues turned to the Laboratory’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN). 

“CFN possesses a full suite of powerful observational and analytical instruments,” said scientist Feng Wang of Brookhaven Lab’s Sustainable Energy Technologies Department, who will lead the collaboration with Zhang’s team at CFN. “With our newly developed imaging techniques, we are able to track the magnesium reactions in real time with nanoscale resolution, letting us understand how and why structural disorder emerges and impacts performance. And it is personally exciting to analyze and optimize materials that may one day make transportation more sustainable.”

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  • December 10 — Noon recital. Award-winning pianist Tomer Gewirtzman will perform works by Chopin and Rachmaninoff. Berkner Hall Auditorium.
  • December 11 — Community Advisory Council meeting. 6:30 p.m., Berkner Hall, Room B.

*The event above is free and open to the public. Visitors 16 and older must bring a photo ID for access to BNL events.

2014-5370  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office