Researchers at UC Davis and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Develop New Tool for Neuron Experiments 

A collaboration between Adam Moulé, the Joe and Essie Smith Endowed Chair of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Davis, former UC Davis Ph.D. student Daniel Vong, and Luke Daemen, a researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, or ORNL, has resulted in rotating sample holder that enables new types of neuron experiments.  

Professor Adam Moule against a gray backdrop

The sample holder tumbles powdered photochemical materials within a neutron beamline. The rotating holder exposes more of the material to light for increased photoactivation and better photochemistry data capture. Conventional sample holders were unable to rotate, or tumble, powdered samples, which meant light could only reach and activate molecules on the sample’s surface, reducing the amount and quality of data that could be captured.  

The new sample holder has already enabled the first neutron scattering observations of an optically excited photon splitting into two particles  a process that could lead to increased solar energy conversion efficiency in photovoltaic devices, such as solar cells or solar panels, and industrial processes.  

Vong, the first author of the paper for this research, was a researcher in Moulé’s Renewable Energy Electronics Lab while pursuing his doctorate in materials science and engineering at UC Davis. He spent a year at ORNL collaborating with Daemon on developing the new sample environment based on Moulé’s ideas.  

Vong is now at Intel in Portland, Oregon, and Moulé and his lab group continue to collaborate with Daemon. They plan to do more experiments this year.  

“The collaboration was a win-win, demonstrating how the university and ORNL scientists can work together successfully,” said Moulé. “It was a great opportunity for one of our researchers to intern at ORNL, learning from an expert instrument scientist and having access to the resources needed to build such an innovative sample holder.”  

Read about the collaborative research at ORNL

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