Neutron Science In the News – 2013
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Knoxville News Sentinel 2/15
If sequestration takes effect March 1, up to 1,000 workers at Y-12 could be furloughed for six months to deal with the federal spending cuts.
That's according to a report released this week by the House Appropriations Committee's Democratic members, whose analysis shows broad impacts across the federal landscape — including the U.S. Department of Energy's operations in Oak Ridge.
The report warned that spending cuts at Y-12 could be particularly damaging as the plant tries to shore up security in the wake of last summer's break-in by Plowshares protesters. Investigations found "troubling displays of ineptitude" in the plant's response, as well as serious problems with the sensor-and-alarm systems, the report emphasized.
"Clearly, these layoffs will adversely impact efforts to improve security," the report stated.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory would also pay a price if Congress doesn't act to avoid the budget sequestration.
The House Democrats said ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor would be among the science research facilities shut down as a result of across-the-board spending cuts.
Knoxville News Sentinel 1/9
The Spallation Neutron Source, after rocky times this fall due to back-to-back target vessel failures and a two-week shutdown during the holidays, is up and running again, and there are plans to keep it in a production mode through the end of May to make up for lost ground.
Operations manager Kevin Jones said the SNS resumed operations for research users at about 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
"SNS is operating at the planned power level of 850 kW to preserve target lifetime until a second spare target is available," Jones said in an email message.
"All user program instruments are taking beam for experiments and we look forward to a productive long run through May 30, 2013," he said. "During the two week shutdown we successfully completed a complex power outage for the SNS Target Building and part of the Center for Nanophase Material Sciences to tie in the utility services for the new Chestnut Ridge Maintenance Facility that is under construction."
Both liquids and glasses are disordered materials in which the atoms don't establish long-range patterns. Using neutron scattering to probe that disordered system at the atomic level researchers can learn how to make new and potentially better glasses for applications such as lasers and fiber optics, as well as gain a better understanding of geological materials.
To study liquids and glasses, a collaborating team from Materials Development Inc. in Arlington Heights, Illinois; Stony Brook University in New York; Argonne National Laboratory (ANL); and the Neutron Sciences Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed a container-less sample environment, in which a drop of pure liquid literally "floats" on a jet of flowing gas.
This aerodynamic levitator sample environment has been installed on the Nanoscale-Ordered Materials Diffractometer (NOMAD) at the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL. There, the research team is using it to study small drops of liquids such as calcium, magnesium, and aluminum silicates.
"We study liquids as they transform to glass," says Richard Weber, the principal investigator and the owner of Materials Development Inc. "That is important because many materials are processed as liquids at some stage in their life, such as silicon wafers that start as sand and then are converted into silicon by melting and processing. "We look at the liquid state, measure its structure, and see how it actually transforms into glass."