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Research Highlights

night lights over Greater Beijing Metropolitan Area
Full Story | April 2016

Beijing's Growing Urban Area Spells Rain Change
Urbanization increases atmospheric particles enough to impact clouds and change precipitation patterns

Atmospheric researchers at PNNL found that the impact of urbanization around Beijing, China, creates two opposite regional effects, one of which dictates seasonal rainfall in the area. Urbanization increases particle emissions from combustion that impact clouds and suppress rainfall in the upwind area while increasing it in the downwind area. The urban heat island effect to increase regional temperatures had less of an impact on rainfall.


two DNA simulations
Full Story | April 2016

A New Model for Simulating the Atmosphere of Ions Around DNA
Refined insights into critical ionic interactions with nature's building blocks

In nature, DNA exists within a solution rife with electrostatically charged atoms or molecules called ions. A recent study led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers investigated a new model of how B-DNA, the form of DNA that predominates in cells, is influenced by the water-and-ions “atmosphere” around it.


Water covers platinum surface, artist's rendering
Full Story | May 2016

Platinum, Puddles, and Water's True Nature
Water droplets defy predictions, potentially offering insights to everything from fire-retardant fabrics to fuel cells

When ice melts too fast in your drink, you're left with a watered-down mess. When it melts too fast in your scientific experiment, you're left with nothing. At DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, scientists conduct detailed studies on the nature of water, but the water disappeared before the experiments that required ultrahigh vacuum could begin. So Dr. Greg Kimmel and his colleagues devised a new method that lets the water stick around.


Fission
Full Story | April 2016

A Slow Separation
Novel model illustrates the finer details of nuclear fission

In the first study of its kind, scientists collaborating from the University of Washington, Warsaw University of Technology, Los Alamos National Laboratory and PNNL developed a novel model seeking a more intricate look at what happens during the final stages of the nuclear fission process. Using the model, they determined that fission fragments remain connected far longer than expected before the daughter nuclei split apart, delivering a long-awaited description of real-time fission dynamics within a microscopic framework and opening a pathway to a theoretical method with abundant predictive power. Notably, in addition to its publication, the paper was highlighted as an Editors’ Suggestion by Physical Review Letters.

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