Friday, August 29, 2014

Biofilm shatters serious skin infections

Cross section of skin layers shows topical application of an ionic liquid for combating a skin-borne bacterial infection. UCSB illustration.

Biofilms are the first line of defense for harmful bacteria and make the treatment of skin infections especially difficult because microorganisms protected in a biofilm have antibiotic resistance and recalcitrance to treatment.

“In essence, we may have stumbled onto a magic bullet,” said David Fox, a Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher. “Through a robust screening strategy, our research team has identified a unique class of materials.” (Full Story)

Antibacterial approach could resolve skin infections

Like a protective tent over a colony of harmful bacteria, biofilms make the treatment of skin infections especially difficult. Microorganisms protected in a biofilm pose a significant health risk due to their antibiotic resistance and recalcitrance to treatment, and biofilm-protected bacteria account for some 80 percent of total bacterial infections in humans and are 50 to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than simpler bacterial infections. (Full Story)

Also from Medical Design Technology

Los Alamos National Lab’s R&D fueling new quantum-crypto firm

Quantum Key encryption device developed at LANL. LANL photo.

Technology development firm AlliedMinds says it has set up a new company, Whitewood Encryption Systems, to develop quantum-crypto technology under an R&D licensing arrangement with Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Photon-based quantum crypto has been known to face some technical difficulties, such as geographical distance limitations, but it offers considerable promise due to ways it can be used to generate what are believed to be unique unbreakable keys, among other attributes. (Full Story)

Particle physics to aid nuclear cleanup

Postdoc Elena Guardincerri, right, and undergraduate research assistant Shelby Fellows prepare a lead hemisphere for muon tomography. LANL photo.

An international team of physicists and engineers plans to use these particles to peek inside Fukushima Daiichi’s reactor cores. The team hopes that with muon-vision, the exact level of destruction inside—and consequently the best method of decommissioning the site—will become clear.

Since the early 2000s, a small team at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has developed technology that uses muons to examine fragile or otherwise inaccessible nuclear materials. (Full Story)

Ion beams simulate nuclear-reactor damage

Three accelerators at the Michigan Ion Beam Laboratory. U. Mich. photo.

Damage to nuclear-reactor components caused by neutron irradiation across several years can be simulated with ion beams in just a few days. That is the finding of researchers in the US, who have used ions to create the same fabric of tiny structural defects found in long-running reactors.

Microstructural damage to the duct had already been studied extensively by researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory using atom probe microscopy, electron microscopy and other techniques. (Full Story)

Robots come out in full force

Several robotics teams from Los Alamos gathered at the Bradbury Science Museum on Friday to show off their handmade robots. In attendance were Project Y from Los Alamos High School, FIRST Robotics team from UNM-LA, FIRST Lego Atomic Phoenixes, FIRST Tech Challenge from Los Alamos Middle School and the Radioactive Fireflies. (Full Story)

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Friday, August 22, 2014

10Best: Los Alamos, N.M., without security clearance

The Bradbury Science Museum. From USA Today.

Los Alamos is home to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a secure government lab that is still responsible in part for the nation's nuclear arsenal. But Los Alamos is also a community that is happy to share its history with visitors from all over the world, be it the 1940s or the 1200s, when ancestors of today's New Mexico Pueblo tribes called the forested canyons here home. Here are the 10 best things to enjoy in and near this storied northern New Mexico city that don't need a security clearance. (Full Story)

Training bees to detect diabetes

Robert Wingo on KRQE News13.

A New Mexico researcher is helping train honeybees to detect a deadly disease. It could be a new, low-cost way for developing countries to catch the disease early.

A group of foreign graduate students called Bee Healthy teamed up with a Los Alamos National Lab researcher to test whether bees can in fact detect diabetes.

Dr. Robert Wingo said he started working with bees about 10 years ago, training them like search dogs to detect explosives. (Full Story)

Also from WBZ-TV Boston

A safire in the rough

Safire developers Dipen Sinha (left) and Anirban Chaudhuri of Materials Synthesis and Integrated Devices. LANL Photo.

A multi-phase flow meter, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Safire provides noninvasive, real-time and accurate estimates of oil production for every well. Jointly developed with Chevron ETC and GE Measurement & Control, Safire achieves measurement rates as high as 100 readings/sec, including computation time.

Safire is based on SFAI, swept frequency acoustic interferometry. SFAI uses frequency-chirp signal propagation (wideband ultrasonic frequency) through a multi-phase medium to extract frequency-dependent physical properties of said medium. (Full Story)

Also from R&D Magazine:

Nuclear reactor reliability: Fast test proves viable

Tandem accelerator exposed the metal sample to a barrage of charged iron atoms. From R&D.    

Univ. of Michigan’s Gary Was, the Walter J. Weber, Jr. Professor of Sustainable Energy, Environmental and Earth Systems Engineering at UM, and colleagues from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory and TerraPower sought to confirm theories for reproducing the degradation seen in reactors with beams of charged atoms, or ion beams. This method takes a matter of days to produce the same amount of damage. (Full Story)

TA-21 towers come tumbling down

West tower, LA Monitor photo.

The Department of Energy’s Environmental Projects Office took down the water tower at the west end of Technical Area 21 (TA-21) Monday beginning at about noon. The tower to the east came down today.

“By bringing down these towers, we are making a noticeable difference in the skyline at TA-21,” said Pete Maggiore, assistant manager for Environmental Programs at the Los Alamos Field Office. “This is another positive step toward eventual transfer of this property to Los Alamos County.” (Full Story)

The story also appeared in the Los Alamos Daily Post

Also this week in the Los Alamos Monitor:

Robots take center stage

The public can see and drive a variety of different robots at “Robotics Night” from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday at the Bradbury Science Museum. Robots from Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Hazardous Devices Team, the FIRST Robotics Clubs (high school and middle-school students), University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, First LEGO League and other local robotics enthusiasts are scheduled to be at the museum. (Full Story)

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Young scientists study LANL’s impact on wildlife

From left, Audrey Smith, Emily Phillips and Maria Musgrave are undergraduate science students helping repair and monitor nestboxes at Los Alamos. LANL photo.           

Three undergraduate science students are adding new data to a 17-year project to monitor the impact of Los Alamos National Laboratory activities on birds and other wildlife.

As part of their internship with Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Environmental Stewardship group, the three monitor about 500 nesting boxes set up on lab property and in the county. (Full Story)

LANL probes mysteries of uranium dioxide’s thermal conductivity

Illustration of anisotropic thermal conductivity in uranium dioxide. LANL image.

Nearly 20 percent of the electricity in the United States is generated by nuclear energy from uranium dioxide fuel, but mysteries still surround exactly how the material controls the electrical production: poor thermal conductivity can limit the conversion rate of heat produced by fission, however we don’t know the physics underlying this behavior or, as it turns out, some of the properties to which it gives rise.

“A deeper understanding of the physics that governs the performance of important engineering materials, should lead to improvements in efficiency and safety,” said David Andersson, of Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Cosmic rays to pinpoint Fukushima cores

By comparing results from two detectors DSIC will be able to identify the exact location and condition of the fuel within them. LANL illustration.

Los Alamos chief scientist and leader of its muon tomography team Christopher Morris recently noted, "Los Alamos researchers began working on an improved method for muon radiography within weeks of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima reactor complex. Within 18 months we had refined our technique and published a paper showing that the Los Alamos method was superior to traditional muon radiography techniques for remotely locating and identifying nuclear materials, and that it could be employed for field use." (Full Story)

Improving solar cell efficiency

Core/shell PbSe/CdSe quantum dots (a) and a carrier multiplication (CM) pathway (b). LANL illustration.

Los Alamos researchers have demonstrated an almost four-fold boost of the carrier multiplication yield with nanoengineered quantum dots. Carrier multiplication is when a single photon can excite multiple electrons.

“Typical solar cells absorb a wide portion of the solar spectrum, but because of therapid cooling of energetic (or ‘hot’) charge carriers, the extra energy of blue and ultraviolet solar photons is wasted in producing heat,” said Victor Klimov, director of the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

LANL Director makes surprise appearance at LAPS all hands breakfast

Director Charlie McMillan thanks Los Alamos Public School employees. Daily Post photo.

McMillan told school employees that their service made Los Alamos a better place to live, thereby benefiting LANL recruiting efforts. Los Alamos teachers have future Lab employees in their classrooms now, he said.

"Now kids can't wait to get away from Los Alamos, but in the future, when they have kids and careers, they can't wait to come back," McMillan said, and urged them to remember the impact good teachers have on students for years to come. (Full Story)

Also from the Daily Post

Los Alamos scientist wins American Chemical Society award

Jaqueline L. Kiplinger, LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Jaqueline L. Kiplinger has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry.

“To be nominated and selected for the Cotton Award by my American Chemical Society colleagues is such an extraordinary honor,” Kiplinger said. “I have found so much joy in actinide chemistry research, both in advancing fundamental knowledge for the nation, and in training future generations of scientists.” (Full Story)

Two LANL scientists named ACS Fellows

Rebecca Chamberlin and Donivan Porterfield. LANL photos.

Rebecca Chamberlin and Donivan Porterfield, both of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Actinide Analytical Chemistry group, have been selected as a 2014 Fellows of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Chamberlin is currently the co-principal investigator for development of novel microreactor-based systems for plutonium process chemistry and one-step extraction and separation of rare earths at the laboratory.

Porterfield is a radiochemist engaged in research and development and analytical services supporting stockpile stewardship and nuclear forensics and nonproliferation. (Full Story)

Also from the Monitor

LANL Foundation a beneficiary of an annuity

Donald Rose, a retired longtime scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory named the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation and two other nonprofits as beneficiaries of a $700,800 annuity.

Rose died in April at the age of 91. He came to LANL in 1956, joined the Weapons Subsystem Group (WX-5) in 1982 and was named Assistant to the Deputy Associate Director for Defense Construction Programs in 1984. He retired in 1990, returning as an associate and later guest scientist at LANL until 2000. (Full Story)

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Wildfire smoke proves worse for global warming

Wildfire fuel being burned in the fire laboratory at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory.  CMU Photo.

Forest experts generally agree that as climate change makes the world warmer and drier, wildfires will break out more often. This means more destruction of property, more government dollars spent on fire crews and more plumes of nasty, polluting smoke smudging up summer skies.

Manvendra Dubey, senior climate scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, added that climate-warming brown and black carbon particles are found in smoke caused by hot, intensely burning flames—the kind of blazes that are starting to erupt more often. (Full Story)

LANL study: Wildfire smoke’s effect on climate underestimated

The Diego Fire in the Jemez. Journal Photo.

Scientists need to shed their black-and-white view of wildfire smoke and include “brown carbon” in their climate models, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory report in a new study. The research suggests that smoke from wildfires may contribute to climate change in ways that  scientists have never considered. (Full Story)

Also in the Los Alamos Monitor

Los Alamos probes mysteries of uranium dioxide’s thermal conductivity

Anisotropic thermal conductivity in uranium dioxide. LANL image.

New research at Los Alamos National Laboratory is showing that the thermal conductivity of cubic uranium dioxide is strongly affected by interactions between phonons carrying heat and magnetic spins.

“A deeper understanding of the physics that governs the performance of important engineering materials, such as uranium dioxide, should lead to improvements in efficiency and safety,” said David Andersson, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist on the project, “which are ultimate goals of the Department of Energy’s program to develop advanced predictive computer models of nuclear reactor performance.” (Full Story)

“SuperCam” instrument adds capabilities to successful ChemCam

SuperCam.  NASA illustration.

NASA announced today that laser technology originally developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory has been selected for its new Mars mission in 2020.

SuperCam builds upon the successful capabilities demonstrated aboard the Curiosity Rover during NASA’s current Mars Mission. SuperCam will allow researchers to sample rocks and other targets from a distance using a laser. In addition to harnessing Los Alamos developed laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) technology.  (Full Story)

Hazmat Challenge is serious business

Team works a scenario at the Hazmat Challenge. LANL photo.

If you thought your week has been challenging due to the unpredictable weather, it was nothing compared to what hazardous material technicians had to face during Los Alamos National Laboratory’s 18th annual Hazmat Challenge.

Facing real-world chemical leak scenarios of all types: indoor, outdoor, overturned trucks, leaking railcars and other challenges, hazmat techs from all over the nation competed at Tech Area 49 this week to see who did the best, and safest job of cleaning up the simulated spills. (Full Story)

LANL employees team with Smith’s on school supplies

Members of LANL Quality Performance Assurance Group teamed up with Smith's Marketplace to provide school supply backpacks. From the Post     

Members of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Quality Performance Assurance Group were at Smith’s Marketplace this morning to join with Smith’s employees in filling backpacks with school supplies.

Each year, LANL conducts a Lab-wide effort to raise funds for the project. Smith's not only provides the Lab with a discount, but this year also donated 28 of the backpacks, QPA Group Leader Ernie Petru said. LANL's 120-member QPA Group spearheaded the drive. (Full Story)

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