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Welcome to 
Inquiry 2014Issue 2

 Laser-focused Science for the Future

It seems like everywhere you turn at the Ames Laboratory, there’s something new. We’re in the process of constructing our first new research facility in more than 50 years to house electron microscopes and other sensitive instruments. The $10 million Sensitive Instrument Facility, scheduled to open by the summer of 2015, will provide a real boost in our ability to probe materials at the atomic level, free from outside influences such as vibration and electro-magnetic interference. You can take a peek at the building as it takes shape on pages 6 and 7.

This past summer, we installed state-of-the art solid-state dynamic nuclear polarization nuclear magnetic resonance equipment, or DNP-NMR. The technology uses microwaves to polarize electrons, then transfers that polarization to the nuclei of the sample being studied. The result is a huge leap in the sensitivity of the spectral signal acquired.

We’ve also begun using 3D printing in a number of ways—to prototype materials rapidly or “print” organic and inorganic materials, such as ceramics and metals. The Ames Laboratory-led Critical Materials Institute, a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub, is using its LENS (laser engineered netshaping) MR-7 system to combine up to four different metal powders in a nearly infinite variety of alloy compositions and gradients. The system, shown on the cover and on page 16, uses a laser to melt the powders as they are deposited onto a substrate. For catalysis, Ames Laboratory scientists Igor Slowing and Aaron Sadow are using different types of 3D printers to develop processes for creating unique materials and structures (see the story on pages 16-18).

(Click on issue cover for full pdf)

There are other projects as well. The commitment to excellence at Ames Labortory is very strong and the examples we're highlighting in this issue are proof positive that we'e moving forward on multiple fronts to create materials and energy solutions.