This month’s articles include clandestine graves, shocks to the grid, mapping the minute, and a novel nucleus.

ORNL-Comp-CourtyardForensics — The telltale bone . . .
Technology developed more than 100 years ago to wirelessly transmit electricity is being adapted to locate clandestine graves. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Charles Van Neste and colleagues are transmitting electromagnetic waves to penetrate the ground and set up a resonance in buried bones. “The system consists of a transmitter and a receiver that collects the surface waves and passively integrates them through resonance over time,” Van Neste said.

Electricity — Eye on the grid . . .
Through a network that consists of hundreds of low-cost monitors that plug into standard 110-volt outlets, GridEye can play a role in ensuring the reliability of the nation’s power grids. The system, developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, provides real-time information about dynamic responses to conditions and can provide warnings of impending failures such as the Northeast Blackout of 2003. The monitors, referred to as frequency disturbance recorders, are installed in offices, school buildings and residences.

Batteries — Nanoscale mapping . . .
A nanoscale view into the inner workings of lithium-ion batteries could yield critical clues to overall battery performance. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences used a method called electrochemical strain microscopy to take an unprecedented look at the kinetics of a lithium-ion battery anode with a resolution below 10 nanometers. The ORNL team isolated and mapped two key electrochemical processes, ionic reaction and transport, which help define how a battery functions.

Supercomputing — Pairing up in a nucleus . . .
We are all familiar with the change water goes through under the influence of falling temperatures, evolving from a disordered liquid to an ordered solid. What we may not know, however, is that such transitions — known as phase transitions — can also be found within the nucleus of a single atom. In this case the ordering is found when nucleons — neutrons (or protons) — pair up to make the nucleus more stable. Physicists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee have offered the first realistic description of phase transition in an atomic nucleus, using ORNL’s Jaguar supercomputer to analyze the odd behavior of germanium-72, a medium-mass nucleus with 32 protons and 40 neutrons, as it is heated and rotated.

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Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Photo: Oak Ridge National Laboratory