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Welcome to 
Inquiry 2015Issue 1

There's a lot going on these Days at the Ames Laboratory

We’re in the final stages of construction on our new Sensitive Instrument Facility, a nearly $10 million building that will house an array of state-of-the art electron microscopy equipment. It’s Ames Laboratory’s first new research facility in more than 50 years. Through a combination of funding sources, including the Department of Energy and our contractor, Iowa State University, the SIF will be outfitted with three new pieces of equipment and an existing transmission electron microscope will be moved and upgraded.

The SIF will significantly enhance our capabilities to characterize materials, particularly at the atomic scale. By better understanding the electronic, atomic and molecular structure of new materials, our researchers can draw correlations between those structures and the
materials’ properties, such as magnetic, electronic and photonic. You can learn more about the SIF and take a virtual tour of the facility on page six.

And although it’s the largest, the SIF isn’t the only new thing at the Ames Laboratory. Physicist Ruslan Prozorov’s research group has begun collecting data with a new, nitrogen-vacancy magnetoscope that uses defects in diamond’s crystal structure—nitrogen-vacancy centers—to visualize the magnetic fields produced by magnetic nanostructures. You can find out more about this on page 10.

(Click on issue cover for full pdf)

When another of our physicists, Adam Kaminski, found that access to synchrotron beam lines was becoming limited, he set out to create an alternative method to conduct angle resolved photoemission spectroscopy, or ARPES. Using laser light, Kaminski developed a way to study a material’s electronic properties right here at the Ames Laboratory, providing both easier access and higher resolution than previously possible. Read about his ingenious discovery on page 12.

Ames Laboratory has been a major player in the discovery of giant magnetocaloric materials—compounds that heat up when subjected to a magnetic field, then cool when the field is removed. These materials show promise as a possible replacement for traditional gas-compression technology used in refrigeration and cooling. Our chief research officer, Duane Johnson, and scientist Vitalij Pecharsky recently headed up an international workshop to discuss the current state of these materials and how to advance the technology to make it commercially viable. To learn about the outcome of those workshop discussions, turn to page 14.

Materials discovery, design and synthesis are strengths of the Ames Laboratory and a major reason why our Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering (DMSE) is our largest program. Theoretical models help drive experiments to develop new materials, which in turn—through characterization—help to further refine those theoretical models. Our success in doing this will be evaluated in July as DMSE undergoes its triennial program review.

Given the advances we’re making in the areas I’ve mentioned here, as well as success on a range of individual projects, we feel we’re in a strong position to continue to be a world leader in creating materials and energy solutions.