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Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, May 2015

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

BIOMETRICS - 3-D face analysis ...

Law enforcement and national security agencies could benefit from an Oak Ridge National Laboratory technology able to determine a person's age, race and gender with high fidelity. "Normally, computers estimate age by looking for wrinkles or estimate gender by looking at specific two-dimensional distances or 2-D texture," said Ryan Tokola of ORNL's Imaging, Signals and Machine Learning Group. ORNL's system allows users to employ the same set of features to estimate age with an error of less than five years, gender with 89 percent accuracy and race with 99 percent accuracy. This is the first work to accomplish this based solely on the 3-D geometry of a face. Tokola will present this work at the International Conference on Biometrics in Thailand May 19-22. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

HYDRO - Power and peril ...

Fish and the dams that provide about 7 percent of the nation's electricity may have a more symbiotic relationship because of work being performed by a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Mark Bevelhimer and Brenda Pracheil. While researchers have performed several studies over the last few decades, this one focused on pulling together disparate data to gain a better understanding of turbine-associated fish injuries and mortality. "We found that while most of our understanding of fish passage through turbines comes from young salmon, they actually represent a small fraction of the fish that move through turbines on a national scale," Pracheil said. The study also provides insight into why a prized walleye may have a mortality rate as high as 40 percent for some turbine types while a lunker largemouth may face just a 14 percent chance of meeting an untimely demise. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226;]

MATERIALS - Imaging atoms for better batteries ...

Lithium-manganese-rich cathodes are twice as energy dense as other commercially available cathodes but degrade quickly during use. Using electron microscopy and theoretical modeling, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers identified substitution patterns in the material's atomic arrangement. These location-dependent changes rely on nickel swapping with lithium, and can raise or lower energy barriers for lithium-ion diffusion. The findings ( provide a basis for altering this cost-effective cathode material to optimize battery technology. "It is all about understanding the movement of atoms in the material," said ORNL researcher Hemant Dixit. "The combination of theory and imaging techniques provides unique tools so that we can understand this behavior and develop the next generation of robust and reliable battery materials." - written by Ashanti Washington [Contact: Dawn Levy, (865) 576-6448;]


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