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April 2012 story tips
Date:4/3/2012

BIOLOGY -- When neutrons and simulation unite . . .

Scientific analysis of proteins, the workhorses of the cellular world, could become easier by uniting experimental and simulation techniques, according to research published in Biophysical Journal. A team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jeremy Smith demonstrated how the combination of high-performance computer simulation and a type of neutron analysis called spin echo can be used to study certain motions in proteins. When large chunks of proteins called domains move relative to each other, these interdomain motions can be detected with spin echo. "Neutron spin echo can detect motions on longer time scales, from nanoseconds to hundreds of nanoseconds, and very interesting motions in proteins occur on those time scales," Smith said. Enhanced interpretation of spin echo data will also aid studies of nonbiological materials such as polymers. [Contact: Morgan McCorkle, (865) 574-7308; mccorkleml@ornl.gov]

MICROSCOPY -- Transfer stage solution . . .

Preserving the integrity of air- or moisture-sensitive samples being transferred from a protective environment to a scanning electron microscope is now easier with a vacuum-tight transfer stage invented at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Jane Howe and Lynn Boatner led a team that has solved a problem that has inexplicably hampered scientists for decades. "One of the challenges of using scanning electron microscopes and other vacuum-based analytical techniques to characterize lithium battery materials is because of their air and moisture sensitive nature," Boatner said. Even exposures of seconds can produce dramatic morphological and chemical composition changes. The ORNL team successfully used its transfer stage to study lithium-ion battery materials in two different scanning electron microscopes with no alterations. Details are outlined in a paper published in the Journal of M
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Contact: Ron Walli
wallira@ornl.gov
865-576-0226
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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