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Interactions section header with photo of Allison A. Campbell, EMSL Director

A moment can change everything. We are reminded of this every day. Last month, that moment was devastating for our colleagues and friends in Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Since then, we have kept in touch with our Japanese collaborators and are looking for ways we can help them. EMSL is such an internationally diverse organization, and I have always appreciated our users from other countries. We are keeping Japan in our thoughts as its citizens work to rebuild their lives and nation.

Japan is just one of 32 countries whose scientists have collaborated with EMSL in the last few years. EMSL has a strong community of users outside the United States. This spring, I'll be traveling to both China and Russia to talk about EMSL and its capabilities available to the international community. A few months ago, EMSL also held a tutorial for nearly 100 participants on our open source computational chemistry program, NWChem, at the National Supercomputer Center in Beijing.

Moments can also bring us the joy of an exciting new discovery. This past quarter, EMSL scientists Hongfei Wang and Don Smith experienced such moments in their work, and their stories are featured in this issue. You'll also learn about Ravi Kakkadapu's work with Mössbauer spectroscopy, as well as an award-winning ES&T paper that shows the power of a multi-disciplinary team using new in situ capabilities.

As French novelist Marcel Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." The new 'eyes' that enabled these discoveries were innovative new instruments developed here by our staff and with our international collaborators. I encourage you to read about these moments, learn about the new scientific 'eyes' available, and share your own moments of discovery with us.

- Allison


The Moment

First spectra show potential of new capabilities

EMSL postdoctoral researcher Dr. Don SmithIt's sort of a pop-culture cliché: a scientist or scientific team pours heart, soul, and countless hours into a project—nearly to the point of obsession—until The Moment arrives. The first result comes; the instrument works; the data make sense; the code does its job. Whatever the exact fabric of The Moment, it's exactly what the scientist was hoping for—or it's unexpected in an even more interesting way.

While this scene surfaces in the movies, it isn't always how science works in the real world. Often, incremental progress is the norm, and breakthroughs can be more cumulative. However, in the past few months, two EMSL scientists working on separate projects experienced The Moment. Each generated their very first spectra on new, unprecedented scientific instruments they had been developing for months. While they may not have shouted "Eureka," their reactions show the importance of these first results to their respective scientific fields: imaging mass spectrometry and surface nonlinear spectroscopy. Read the full story.

Iron Man

Chemist builds Mössbauer spectroscopy expertise at EMSL

Ravi Kukkadapu, photo To appreciate what motivates Dr. Ravi Kukkadapu, look down—deep into the soil beneath our feet—and visualize a complex, contaminant-free subsurface.

"In my research, I try to build greater scientific understanding for more effective remediation of subsurface contamination, safer aquifers, and the opportunity to develop a broader understanding of the effects of complex subsurface geochemistry on radionuclide mobility," said EMSL's senior research scientist in environmental spectroscopy and biogeochemistry. "Specifically, I look at the role of iron minerals, which are ubiquitous in soil." Read the full story.


EMSL Users, Staff produce "Best of" Paper

Unique experiments provide results for sequestration, cleanup

Best 2010, photo Environmental Science & Technology has selected a paper by scientists from PNNL, EMSL, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as one of its ten "Best Papers of 2010." The study used new microfluidics model systems at EMSL to take a fresh look at a high-impact question: how do changes in groundwater chemistry affect mineralization underground? The resulting insights carry important implications in two application areas: carbon sequestration and contaminant cleanup.

Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) has selected a paper by scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), EMSL, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) as one of its ten "Best Papers of 2010." Of the nearly 1500 papers ES&T published in 2010, the journal's editors nominated 70 of the very best, which were further narrowed to the top ten and then divided between three categories: Environmental Science, Environmental Technology, and Environmental Policy. Read the full story.



If you have feedback – ideas, suggestions, questions – about EMSL's Molecular Bond, please address those to EMSL Communications, Ross Carper, 509-375-7398,

In the Next Issue

Do you have a story of a big scientific "Moment" from your career? Let us know at, and we'll include some of your responses in the next Molecular Bond.

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