Accelerating Science Discovery - Join the Discussion

Published by Brian Hitson
DOE Code

What would a modern software center look like?

We posed that question to Department of Energy (DOE) researchers across the complex in an effort to continue making our scientific and technical information (STI) tools and services best in class.  The answers we received were both enthusiastic and enlightening:  to be most useful, a modern DOE software platform must connect researchers in meaningful ways to their software, data, and research documents; embrace open source; not duplicate but complement existing community practices and platforms; provide for social coding; and enable social media that incorporates sharing and notification systems for software news and updates as well as links to author profiles.

We at the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) are happy to announce that this platform, called DOE Code, is now under planning and development.

Why is this important to DOE?

Software is a critical form of STI and instrumental to scientific research.  It allows scientists to achieve day-to-day tasks, perform complex modeling and simulation, execute big data analytics, and control some of the largest scientific instruments in the world; in other words, software is essential to every aspect of modern scientific research. 

Why is it important for OSTI to ensure a robust software platform?

Published by Kathy Chambers
quantum dots
Image credit: National Energy Research
Scientific Computing Center, Nicholas Brawand

Quantum dots are tiny particles of semiconductor materials that are only a few nanometers in size.  These tiny but mighty particles have immense potential because of their flexibility and highly tunable properties.  Since they are so small, their optical and electronic properties behave quite differently from those of larger particles.  They obey quantum-mechanics laws.  They can be synthesized on-demand with nearly atomic precision.  They emit extremely pure light that differs in color, depending on their size.  They can be suspended in solutions, embedded into materials, and used to seek out cancer cells and deliver treatments.  They can accept photons and convert them into electricity at substantial rates and they are exceptionally energy efficient.  Quantum dots research holds great promise to improve our lives. 

Nanoscientist (and former Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) Paul Alivisatos, along with his collaborators, pioneered the synthesis of semiconductor quantum dots and multi-shaped nanostructures.  This discovery paved the way for a new generation of applications in biomedical diagnostics, display technologies, revolutionary photovoltaic cells, and light emitting diode (LED) materials.  A collection of Alivisatos’ patents are available in the DOepatents database. 

Published by Catherine Pepmiller
orcid ids on scitech connect

It has always been important for authors and researchers to maintain and present accurate records of their work and experience.  In this digital age, an author can achieve such record-keeping by using a persistent digital identifier, a number associated with a particular author that remains with him or her, regardless of changes in discipline, research project, organization, or position.  ORCID, a not-for-profit-organization working to make it easier to connect research results to authors, has stepped in to provide just such a service.  To date, they have registered over 2.5 million ORCID iDs for their users, and this number grows daily.

ORCID first opened its registry allowing researchers to register ORCID iDs and link their works to their iD in 2012, and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) was one of the first federal organizations to embrace the ORCID concept.  In spring 2013, OSTI moved to help make it even easier for researchers to employ ORCID iD by offering the option to submit scientific and technical information (STI) records including an ORCID iD via E-Link, the DOE corporate STI ingest system.  Once records have been processed, users may search SciTech Connect by ORCID iD to find works associated with that iD.  Under this system, authors curate their ORCID Works list manually, adding records found in OSTI’s databases.

OSTI has since improved this service, relieving authors of much of the curation burden. OSTI now offers authors two different ways to add records to their ORCID Works accounts, without the need to enter metadata.

Published by Dr. Jeffrey Salmon

In April 2012, The Economist ran a biting editorial arguing that, “[w]hen research is funded by the taxpayer or by charities, the results should be available to all without charge.”  Academic journals, the magazine contended, were raking in huge profits by selling content that was supplied to them largely for free and in the process restricting public access to valuable research to just those willing to pay for subscriptions.  The answer to this “absurd and unjust” situation, The Economist wrote, is “simple”: governments and foundations that fund research “should require that the results be made available free to the public.”

We at the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) have found that providing full public access to the research DOE funds is simple in principle and complex in practice.  And reflecting on this 2012 editorial, we can say that a great deal of progress has been made toward reaching the goal of free public access it sets out.  And much of that progress is due to hard collaborative work by both the government and publishers. 

Following the February 2013 memo from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research,” all major U.S. federal science agencies are now implementing public access plans, which comprehend both publications and data.

Published by Kathy Chambers
brady hot springs
Fumaroles at Brady Hot Springs, Nevada.
Image credit: DOE Office of Energy Efficiency 
and Renewable Energy, Photo by Dante Fratta

In the 1800s, the Brady Hot Springs geothermal fields were known as the “Springs of False Hope.”  As pioneer wagon trains traveled across the northern Nevada desert on their way to California, their thirsty animals rushed to the springs only to find scalding 180° water and bare land.  Additionally, the water was loaded with sodium chloride and boric acid. 

These geothermal fields were not a welcoming place, but that changed over time; Brady Hot Springs could now be called the “Springs of Hope.”  In recent years, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) has funded a wide array of geothermal research projects at the Brady Hot Springs site.  One, an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) project, was the first EGS project to be connected to the grid and resulted in a 38 percent increase in power output from brine at Ormat’s Desert Peak 2 geothermal power plant in the Brady complex, according to Ormat Technologies, a leading geothermal company and one of DOE’s primary collaborators in the project.  GTO’s Brady Hot Springs projects research results are available in the SciTech Connect database.