[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 15-Jan-2002
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Contact: Ron Walli
wallira@ornl.gov
865-576-0226
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, January 2002

BIOLOGY – Mice on the move

ORNL’s 3,500 strains of mice made at ORNL can be shared for studies among the seven partners in the Tennessee Mouse Genome Consortium because researchers were able to develop a way to transfer mouse stocks via embryo. Researchers could not simply send existing mice at ORNL to the other institutions because the mice carry a number of germs and parasites common to wild rodents. Over the next five years, the mouse embryos will be surgically implanted into germ-free mothers at the pathogen-free satellite facility at the University of Tennessee, a member of the consortium. The development of the procedure is significant because of its large scale and because it allowed the consortium to qualify for $12.7 million from the National Institutes of Health. The strategies and procedure developed by the ORNL team also will ensure the efficient transfer of mouse stocks into the new pathogen-free mouse facility being built at ORNL. The current Mouse House is home to some 60,000 pedigreed mice. [Contact: Dabney Johnson]

ELECTRONICS – Revolutionary sensors

Single electron transistors developed at ORNL hold great promise as smaller and less expensive sensors that are also easier to make than conventional devices. The new sensors are based on microcantilevers, which are the simplest micro-electromechanical systems that can be easily mass produced. The real feat is in using a nano-cantilever to move single electrons at room temperature rather than having to cool the device to liquid nitrogen temperatures, according to the researchers. They expect first applications to be as miniaturized chemical and biological agent sensors. [Contact: Panos Datskos]

CHEMISTRY – 3D polymer strings

Chemists at ORNL are the first to build a three-dimensional chain of spherical polymer particles with unique optical and physical properties they believe will be useful for probing properties of materials. The finding, to be published in Physical Review Letters, represents a big step toward fabricating three-dimensional photonic structures from polymeric materials. This information is crucial to the development of advanced materials and processing techniques involving polymer blends at micro- and nanoscopic scales. The scientists make the polymer chains using a micro-droplet technique that results in spheres of material that retain their individual shapes yet whose surfaces actually merge. [Contact: Mike Barnes]

BIOLOGY – Collision course

Carbon nanofiber-based biosensors able to work on the same scale as nature -– the nanoscale -– could lead to giant leaps in the such areas as chemical and biological sensing, disease detection and management, and a number of other areas. ORNL researchers devised a novel way to construct the devices with the result being an array of carbon nanofibers within microscale structures. The carbon nanofibers, created by coupling the fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology, are especially attractive because of their ability to function with living cells. Researchers expect the marriage to lead to better understanding and perhaps controlling of the biological mechanisms within people and other living things. [Contact: Mike Simpson]

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To arrange for an interview with any of these researchers, please contact Ron Walli of Communications and Community Outreach at 865-576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov



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