Physicist Antonio Miceli of the U.S.
Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has been awarded
$2.5 million over the next five years as part of DOE's Early Career Research
Miceli's work concerns high-resolution spectroscopic X-ray detectors using
superconducting sensors. Spectroscopic X-ray detectors are used for a wide variety
of synchrotron experiments, including X-ray micro/nano-probes and X-ray absorption
spectroscopy for biology and geophysical applications. The current state-of-the-art
spectroscopic X-ray detectors are semiconductor devices, and their energy resolutions
are approaching their theoretical limit of about 100eV at 6 keV.
"We plan to develop a research program focused on using superconducting
sensors with an energy resolution of at least one order of magnitude better
than silicon diode detectors, while maintaining a comparable count rate throughput,"
Miceli said. "This research program has the potential to revolutionize
synchrotron spectroscopic experiments."
In addition, his research could lead to new techniques such as energy-dispersive
X-ray diffraction, which would impact the field of materials science. The research
program will be a collaboration involving Argonne's X-ray Science and Materials
Science divisions and the Center for Nanoscale Materials.
The Early Career Research Program underscores the Obama Administration's commitment
to investing in innovation and research. The program will provide 69 scientists
from across the nation with up to $85 million in funding under the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act for five-year research grants. The new effort
is designed to bolster the nation's scientific workforce by providing support
to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many
scientists do their most formative work.
"This investment reflects the administration's strong commitment to creating
jobs and new industries through scientific innovation," said Secretary
of Energy Steven Chu. "Strong support of scientists in the early career
years is crucial to renewing America's scientific workforce and ensuring U.S.
leadership in discovery and innovation for many years to come."
Beginning with the next fiscal year, the DOE's Office of Science plans to continue
the program, choosing new candidates on an annual basis and supporting them
under annual appropriations.
To be eligible for an award, a researcher must be an untenured, tenure-track
assistant professor at a U.S. academic institution or a full-time employee at
a DOE national laboratory and have received a Ph.D. within the past 10 years.
Research topics are required to fall within the purview of the Office of Science's
six major program offices: Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Basic Energy
Sciences, Biological and Environmental Research, Fusion Energy Sciences, High
Energy Physics, and Nuclear Physics.