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4 ORNL researchers selected for Recovery Act early career funds

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 4, 2010 -- Four Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers are among the 69 scientists that will receive five-year research grants as part of the Department of Energy's new Early Career Research Program.

The $85 million program, funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by the department's Office of Science, is designed to support exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. ORNL's grants will be at least $500,000 per year to cover year-round salary plus research expenses.

Daniel Bardayan of ORNL's Physics Division was selected for "Studies of Nuclear Reactions that Drive Stellar Explosions and Synthesize the Elements," funded by the Office of Nuclear Physics. Bardayan previously received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and is a former Wigner fellow.

Questions about how the elements were created and what drives stars and stellar explosions can only be answered with measurements of reactions on short-lived, unstable nuclei. Since targets of these short-lived nuclei cannot be fabricated (they decay very quickly) these measurements require accelerator-based experiments with beams of exotic nuclei such as those available at ORNL's Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility (HRIBF).

The goal of Bardayan's project is to combine exotic beams at the HRIBF with a new high-density supersonic gas-jet target to make direct studies of the astrophysical reactions and nuclei that drive stellar explosions and synthesize the elements.

Phillip Bingham of ORNL's Measurement Science & Systems Engineering Division was selected for "Research and Development of Detection Systems for Neutron Imaging," funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

Bingham's effort is to develop a high-resolution transmission imaging system that will extend the application of neutron imaging to micro-scale structures, enabling groundbreaking research in areas such as renewable energy, energy storage, efficient transportation, and biofuels.

Current state-of-the-art neutron radiography reaches the 10-15 micrometer resolution range with high-cost detectors; however, typical resolutions are on the order of no better than 50 micrometers. The proposed development will result in an increased resolution in the 1 micrometer range using less expensive, lower-resolution detectors through the use of a magnified detection system.

Kalyan Perumalla of the Computational Sciences & Engineering Division was selected for "ReveR-SES: Reversible Software Execution Systems," funded by the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research.

Perumalla's proposal builds on his unique combination of expertise in reversible software systems and high-end parallel computing. "It is aimed at a paradigm shift in ultra-scale computing, called reversible software execution, which holds new promise in the area of high performance computing," Perumalla said.

His research focuses on the application of novel reversible (anti-) computation methodologies, ultimately aimed at addressing multiple challenges in ultra-scale computing, including energy consumption, performance optimization, fault tolerance and debugging.

Athena S. Sefat of ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division was selected for "Origin of Superconductivity in Structurally Layered Materials," funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

The goal of this project is to understand the fundamental mechanisms that produce superconductivity at high temperatures in structurally layered materials.

The work will be focused on materials design and synthesis but will also include significant efforts in theoretical calculations and neutron scattering. Superconducting materials have the potential to impact a variety of energy relevant technologies, including power generation and transmission, particularly if materials can be found that can carry more current and operate at higher temperatures. Ultimately this research could lead to the discovery of new superconductors with superior properties compared with current materials.

The final details for each project award are subject to contract negotiations between DOE and the awardees.


Contact: Bill Cabage
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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