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Argonne discovery offers new way to coat nuclear materials


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Inside an operating nuclear reactor, the environment is extreme, as reactor components are exposed to a combination of intense radiation and heat as well as chemically reactive coolant. That’s why, in order to operate reactors safely, scientists need to design their components with materials that can withstand these conditions.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have made a pivotal discovery by taking a technique originally developed for the semiconductor industry and using it as a way to coat nuclear materials. This technique, called atomic layer deposition (ALD), forms the basis of new methods to protect nuclear fuels and materials from direct exposure to the reactor’s hostile environment.

We are pioneering the use of ALD for nuclear applications,” Argonne nuclear engineer Abdellatif Yacout.

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Argonne Fuels Energy Start-ups

Argonne National Laboratory is accelerating more than protons these days. Through its Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) entrepreneurship program, Argonne is accelerating the development of new businesses that are tackling the challenges of producing and conserving energy with new, cost effective and environmentally-sustainable technologies. Argonne is located in Lemont, Illinois, west of Chicago. It is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) and operated by the University of Chicago. It is one of the largest and most scientifically diverse research centers in the world. The CRI program is supported by the Advanced Manufacturing Office within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

This summer, with the first four startups graduating from the program, CRI innovators have raised about $12.4 million in funding as of Aug. 1, 2019. Out of that total, more than $5 million has come from private equity sources, and the rest has some from various organizations – including DOE – that offer open funding opportunities.

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Subsurface biofilms could hold clues to alien life, astrobiologists say

By Lauren Robinson

Are we alone?

If you’re wandering around the chambers of the Deep Mine Microbial Observatory, what was once a gold mine in South Dakota, it might feel as though you are — until, perhaps, you take a fluid sample from a borehole in the tunnel wall, run it under a microscope and observe one of the droplets teeming with microbial life.

Caitlin Casar, a third-year Ph.D. student at Northwestern University, says scientists can’t yet answer the big question: Are we alone in the universe?

“I hope that there is life on another planet, but whether or not it’s probable, I don’t think anybody can really say,” she said.


Caitlin Casar, a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University, studies microbes living deep beneath the Earth’s surface in the Deep Mine Microbial Observatory, an old gold mine in Lead, South Dakota. (Photo credit: Matthew Kapust/Sanford Underground Research Facility)

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The Future of Medical Treatment is in Your Toilet

By Alexis Shanes

Microorganisms hiding in your toilet water could lead to a revolution in medical diagnosis and treatment, scientists say.

University of Chicago microbiologists Jack Gilbert and Savas Tay, co-founders of the medical startup BiomeSense, have developed a tool to gain medical insight from powerful bacteria in the gut.

Nine months after creating the company, Gilbert, Tay and their development team have made the concept of a microbiome measurement device a reality.

“We monitor your poop in a way that’s relevant to clinical trials,” Gilbert said. “We are finding out the next strategies for making people healthy.”

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GEN NEXT: Tomorrow Is Another Day

By Julia M. Haried

Originally published at:

How an aspiring CPA found inspiration in failure, persistence, and resilience.

Read the original article here.

“I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day. And I believe in miracles.”

A lot can be gained from Audrey Hepburn’s words. In the beginning of her career, people were sure she was destined for failure. She was too skinny, did not dance well, suffered from depression and malnutrition, and the list goes on. I don’t want to compare myself or the girls and women I work with at MakerGirl and the Big Four public accounting firm where I work to her, but I do see a powerful similarity between us all. In life and work, we must learn how to fail but not stop, how to persist, and how to be resilient in order to succeed.

Thus far in my career, I have failed and persisted and generated resilience. Women like me who have not been accepted into the colleges of their choice, who have received a sub-par work review, who have not been offered a promotion, who have stuck it out in an unpleasant and unsatisfying work assignment, who have failed CPA exams — but persevered — these are the ones who pave the way for an unknown but potentially bright future for women and girls.

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Brains of ‘SuperAgers’ hold secrets to long, mentally agile lives

By Colleen Zewe

What is the secret to a long life with undiminished mental agility? Researchers in Northwestern University’s SuperAger project aim to discover the clues by looking at those who have aged with a sharp mind.

SuperAgers are people over age 80 who have memory performance at least as good as those in their 50’s and 60’s. The memory performance of SuperAgers never ceases to surprise the study’s lead author Dr. Emily Rogalski.

“We didn’t necessarily suspect that SuperAgers’ brains would look more like 50-year-olds than 80-year-olds,” said Rogalski, an associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “That’s pretty profound, right? To think that you’ve lived 80 years of life, but yet your brain looks like a 50-year-old brain. That’s kind of a dream come true that your brain looks that much younger.”

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