Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory

July 12, 2000

MEDICAL -- SeizAlert to the rescue . . .

ORNL researchers are developing a system that would provide an eight- to 50-minute warning before an epileptic seizure, giving a person time to take appropriate action. The system uses dime-size scalp electrodes that relay electroencephalographic signals to a computer for analysis. A warning alert would be sent when the computer detects a significant nonlinear change from non-seizure brain waves. ORNL is working with Nicolet Biomedical of Madison, Wisc., to develop the patented technology into a commercial product tentatively called SeizAlert. [Contact: Lee Hively]

CHEMISTRY -- Micromixing the easy way . . .

In many of today's chemical applications, efficient mixing is critical to achieve product quality and uniformity, and ORNL engineers have devised a better way to do the mixing. The electrohydrodynamic micromixing reactor uses a specially designed electrified injection nozzle that mixes the chemicals instantly as they are introduced. When a high voltage is applied to the nozzle, the motion of charge carriers generates strong turbulent flows near the nozzle tip. In processes for producing ultrafine particles, the micromixing reactor allows for precise control of particle size, which allows for more control of the final product. This technology could lead to improved methods for the synthesis of advanced materials and to miniaturized processes. [Contact: Dave DePaoli]

MAPPING -- Population distribution a click away . . .

Emergency responders have a new tool developed by ORNL that could save perhaps thousands of lives around the world. The LandScan Global Population Database is a worldwide source of population data with spatial precision to assess local impacts from floods, airborne contamination and other natural or manmade disasters. The database, available on a compact disc, boasts resolution of approximately one square kilometer. It will help emergency responders identify, locate and estimate the size of populations at risk from nuclear, biological or chemical threats. Once the affected people are identified, emergency management personnel can take appropriate action. [Contact: Jerry Dobson]

CHEMISTRY -- Trapping single atoms . . .

A whole new technology awaits exploration with the discovery of a technique for trapping single atoms, according to scientists at ORNL. Researchers at ORNL and Nanocrystals Technology in Briarcliff, N.Y., have collaborated to cage single europium atoms in nanocrystals not much larger than the atoms themselves. The process enables them to study the properties of a single atom at room temperature using conventional microscopy techniques. This is far more practical than methods that require cooling the atoms to cryogenic temperatures or trapping atoms in the gas phase using ion trap mass spectrometers. When the atoms are trapped in a specially fabricated nanocrystal host structure, scientists noticed that the europium atoms can be excited with a laser into four distinct levels of brightness. Potential applications lie in computing -- perhaps a four-bit optical storage system -- optical sensing and display systems. [Contact: Mike Barnes]
To arrange for an interview with any of these researchers, please contact Ron Walli of Communications and Community Outreach.

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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