Accelerating Science Discovery - Join the Discussion

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.

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.

Published by Kathy Chambers

ligo observatory 
 Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave
  Observatory (LIGO) in Livingston, LA.  
  Image credit: LIGO Laboratory

Interferometers are investigative tools used in many fields in science and engineering.  They work by merging two or more sources of light or other waves to create an interference pattern, which can be precisely measured and analyzed.  Interferometers are making possible significant advances in scientific research.  One of these advances is in astronomy, where laser interferometers are opening a new era in the exploration of the universe.

In 1972, a young Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics professor, Rainer Weiss, drew up a teaching exercise using a basic concept for an interferometer to detect gravitational waves.  This work later became the blueprint for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a national facility for gravitational wave research.  LIGO is funded by the National Science Foundation and other public and private institutions.

LIGO currently consists of two of the world’s largest and most sensitive interferometers located 1,865 miles apart on DOE’s Hanford Site at Hanford, Washington, and in Livingston, Louisiana, shown in the image above.  These incredible laser interferometers operate in unison using laser interferometry to measure the minute ripples in space-time caused by passing gravitational waves from space events.  Observed signals from the Hanford and Livingston detectors are then superimposed to verify the gravitational waves and their origin.