Office of Science
EMSL Newsletter

The Molecular Bond

Related Information

Subscribe to EMSL's mailing list to receive The Molecular Bond, our quarterly electronic newsletter, as well as EMSL announcements such as deadlines for proposals.

View the email version of the Molecular Bond.

See past editions in the newsletter archive.

EMSL's new quarterly Newsletter.

Spring 2011, FY11 second quarter

In this issue:

The Molecular Bond, fourth issue
  1. EMSL Director's Message
  2. The Moment
  3. Iron Man
  4. EMSL Users, Staff produce "Best of" Paper
  5. News
  6. Events
  7. User Stats
  8. Quarterly Summary
  9. In the Next Issue


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

Don Smith, photo

First spectra show game-changing potential of new capabilities

It'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

Ravi Kukkadapu, photo

Chemist builds Mössbauer spectroscopy expertise at EMSL

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

Best 2010, photo

Unique experiments provide results for sequestration, cleanup

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.


News image

Bowden Solves Century-old Puzzle Mark Bowden, who serves as EMSL's spectroscopy and diffraction capability lead, contributed a key "ah-ha moment" in the study of hydrogen storage and release. Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Better Batteries Using microscopy tools at EMSL, PNNL and Princeton University scientists created better materials for energy storage—a finding published in one of ACS Nano's top articles of 2010. Watch the video [EMSL's YouTube channel].

EMSL Expansion This month PNNL celebrated completion of the largest construction project in the Laboratory's 46-year history—part of which will house EMSL's new Radiochemistry Capability [pdf].

Industry Impact Did you know? Since opening in 1997, EMSL has worked with 21 Fortune 500 companies. Learn more about how EMSL accelerates innovation [pdf].

Call for Applications EMSL is currently seeking new Wiley Visiting Scientists and Wiley Research Fellows. Learn about these opportunities and read about current Visiting Scientist Marco Daturi.


News image

User Meeting Postponed With federal budgets for FY11 just recently released, EMSL postponed its May 2011 user meeting and is planning a more focused meeting in this summer. Watch the EMSL web site for more information.

EMSL's Annual Call for Proposals closed 4/1/2011, and award decisions will be made by 9/1/2011. In addition to the call, there are several other ways to become an EMSL user. Learn more.

EMSL on the Road EMSL is represented at scientific meetings year round. This quarter, come meet our scientists and learn what EMSL has to offer during the DOE-SBR PI meeting, the American Physical Society April meeting, the American Society for Microbiology General Meeting, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) Conference, and more. See a complete listing of our Conferences and Events.

User Stats

User stats image

To date in FY11, 577 users have benefitted from EMSL capabilities and expertise. This total includes 401 onsite and 176 remote users.

Quarterly Summary

Quarterly summary image

To learn about the achievements of EMSL in the second quarter of FY11, visit our News Center.

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.

EMSL Communications: Ross Carper | , 509-375-7398