U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

New Optical Sensor Technology Measures Key Environmental Contaminants
Published: February 18, 2004
Posted: March 01, 2004

Detection and measurement of amounts of traces of toxic chemicals is a necessary first step in the cleanup of environmental contamination. However, there are very few analytical techniques that have sufficient sensitivity to measure the low levels of many contaminants at the sites for which DOE is responsible for cleanup. Office of Science research at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has demon­strated the suitability of a recently developed technique, cavity ring-down spectro­scopy, for measuring trace amounts of chemicals such as trichloroethylene (TCE) in the field. TCE is a major subsurface contaminant at several DOE sites. Its migration will have to be monitored at these sites for many years into the future. The NIST technique also shows promise for laboratory studies of the adsorption of molecules on surfaces, as a means of understanding chemical reactions such as those catalyzed by the surface. The studies by Andrew Pipino's research group at NIST was funded by the Biological and Environmental Research Environmental Management Science Program. An article about the fundamental concept has just been published in the Journal of Chemical Physics.

Contact: Roland F. Hirsch, SC-73, (301) 903-9009
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Subsurface Biogeochemical Research
  • Research Area: Research Technologies and Methodologies

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
      (formerly SC-73 Medical Sciences Division, OBER)


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)