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Feature Story | Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne’s cat power

Argonne celebrates National Cat Day by highlighting the scientific prowess of the laboratory’s CATS — Collaborative Access Teams and the Center for Accelerator Target Science, that is.

Animal lovers across the country celebrate October 29 as National Cat Day. Given that the universe seems squarely divided between cat people” and dog people,” this article is aimed at that 50 percent of readers interested in anything relating to the former, as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has its fair share of cats, or rather, CATS.

While cats of the furry nature are content with a more solitary lifestyle, Argonne’s acronymic CATS tend to gather in groups, whether as Collaborative Access Teams at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source (APS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, or at the Center for Accelerator Target Science within Argonne’s Physics division.

Collaborative Access Teams (CATs) are working groups within the APS that use unique hard X-ray beamline equipment and techniques to conduct specialized science on materials that are difficult to observe and measure. Examples include the following areas: proteins that cause disease, for new medications and therapies; seawater and uranium, for potential new ways to capture uranium; and rocks and minerals pushed from deep inside the earth, to better understand our planet’s geography.

Here, then, are some of APS’s own clowder of CATS:

BioCARS focuses on structural biology and the physical sciences, with a mission to study the dynamic properties of biological, chemical and physical systems.

BioPhysics, or BioCAT, focuses on a variety of experiments, with an emphasis on studying tissues; applications include mapping structures in brain tissues that may be associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

ChemMatCARS focuses on research that addresses a broad range of issues in chemistry and materials research.

DuPont-Northwestern-Dow, or DND-CAT, performs materials research and seeks to solve both basic and industrial problems.

Dynamic Compression Sector, or DCS, is a first-of-its-kind capability dedicated to dynamic compression science. Research studies the fundamental mechanisms governing a broad range of time-dependent, condensed matter phenomena.

General Medical Sciences and Cancer Institutes Structural Biology Facility, or GM/CA, focuses on research of biological macromolecules, with an emphasis on studies to lead to therapies to improve human health.

GeoSoilEnviroCARS, or GSECARS, focuses on research in geochemistry, cosmochemistry and environmental sciences.

High Pressure, or HP-CAT, focuses on compression science in fields from materials science to geoscience.

Industrial Macromolecular Crystallography Association, or IMCA-CAT, focuses on structural biology, aimed at accelerating pharmaceutical drug discovery and product development.

Life Sciences, or LS-CAT, studies proteins for a wide variety of biological and life sciences research.

Lilly Research Laboratories, or LRL-CAT, uses automated tools to collect data on protein crystals for pharmaceutical researchers.

Materials Research, or MR-CAT, conducts materials science research, with an emphasis on environmental science.

Northeastern Collaborative, or NE-CAT, also focuses on structural biology research topics, with an emphasis on how biological molecules interact to form large, macromolecular systems.

Southeast Regional, or SER-CAT, focuses on structural biology and hosts a secure robotic system for remote data collection.

Structural Biology Center, or SBC-CAT, focuses on research in medicine, bio-nanomachines and biocatalysis, areas that are relevant to energy resources, health, environment and national security.

John Greene produces targets and foils at the Center for Accelerator Target Science for experiments performed at the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System. (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Our final cat” comes from Argonne’s Physics division. The Center for Accelerator Target Science produces targets and foils of various thickness and substrates for nuclear physics experiments performed at the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, and elsewhere. Prepared from both naturally occurring materials and stable isotopes, these specialized targets are also crafted for other divisions at Argonne and other laboratories and universities. The target development laboratory includes state-of-the-art equipment used for thin-film fabrication, and available techniques range from multiple resistive heating and focused ion beam sputtering to electron beam and electron bombardment evaporation and electro-deposition.

While the proverb holds that curiosity killed the cat, scientific curiosity is driving research forward at all of the Argonne cats.”

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.