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News

Research highlights from Pacific Northwest National Laborator rings up info security

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory : 10 October, 2002  (Technical Article)
Information security is all the buzz thanks to a new surveillance system designed by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Called Secure Safe, this wireless communications system triggers an alarm if a worker leaves a room without properly closing and locking a safe, file drawer or other security container.
Mechanical and optical sensors track the position of a safe's door and locking mechanism. This information is relayed to an optical sensor mounted at the room's exit point, which sounds an alarm if a worker leaves without fully securing the safe. Secure Safe is being tested at several Department of Energy sites to enhance information security, but other potential applications include bank vaults, hospital medicine cabinets and corporate filing cabinets containing intellectual property. PNNL is interested in working with industry to commercialize the system.

DREAM-y technology advances proteomics
While people may rely on counting sheep to fall asleep and then dream, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are putting DREAMS before measurements with a powerful new mass spectrometry technique. This method, called DREAMS for Dynamic Range Enhancement Applied to Mass Spectrometry, analyzes more proteins in less time and with greater accuracy, providing a more thorough understanding of an organism.

PNNL scientists designed DREAMS to automatically filter out signals from proteins that exist in large numbers from those proteins that appear in fewer numbers. Such low-level proteins often hold clues to important cellular processes, such as disease development. Globally studying proteins has become a major challenge and now is possible because of the near completion of the mapping of the human genome.

The use of DREAMS has been shown to nearly double the information obtained on proteins in a single experiment. More importantly, the additional information largely relates to the low-level proteins normally missed using other methods.

This research was conducted in the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a national user facility located at PNNL.

Runny ketchup isn't just bad on a burger, it's bad business for the food manufacturer that may have process control problems adversely affecting product quality and manufacturing costs. To ensure puddings, sauces and other fluid products have the viscosity, texture and other characteristics consumers expect, most manufacturers must conduct time-consuming manual batch sampling. Problems may not be discovered until a defective product already has been processed. Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed an ultrasonic tool that provides non-invasive, real-time and continuous monitoring of key physical properties of fluid products. The Real-Time Ultrasonic Rheometer and Fluid Characterization Device is compact, easily mounted on process piping and also could be used to monitor the performance properties of polymers, coatings, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. PNNL recently demonstrated the technology at a tomato processing plant and is interested in working with industry on other applications.

Problems with pesticides? No kidding
Children are exposed to an increasing number of health-threatening chemicals widely used at home, schools, even at day care centers. Their small, developing bodies potentially are more sensitive to toxic stress than adults. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers, under an Environmental Protection Agency grant, are working to understand the potential health effects in children exposed to organophosphate compounds, such as insecticides. Their work will help develop and refine a chemical exposure model to assess low dose exposures, and establish a non-invasive (i.e., saliva) sampling process ideal for use with children. Researchers expect to be able to modify the model in order to assess aggregate and cumulative exposures.
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