Friday, January 20, 2012

LANL could have role in creating nuclear fuel from old warheads

Glove box operations at TA-55. LANL photo.

The National Nuclear Security Administration is considering Los Alamos as an alternative for disposing of the plutonium pits that once served as primary cores for some 17,000 now-discarded nuclear weapons.

After the Rocky Flats facility in Colorado discontinued nuclear weapons production in 1992, LANL became the only place in the country where plutonium pits can be made. (Full Story)

Nanotube bundles could boost solar cells

Photon hitting a carbon nanotube. From Physics World.

Thin-film solar cells could be made far more efficient with the addition of bundles of carbon nanotubes, so say researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Research shows that the bundles can be used to adeptly perform the two important steps for generating an electric current. It is first time this has been demonstrated in a single thin-film photovoltaic material. (
Full Story)

Dawn offers first look at giant asteroid's chemistry

Computer model of Vesta's surface. NASA

The NASA Dawn spacecraft's close-up study of the giant asteroid Vesta is offering researchers their first look at the elemental composition of this ancient protoplanet.

Dawn's Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND) -- built by Los Alamos National Laboratory -- will determine the chemical composition of Vesta, providing new information about how Vesta formed and evolved. (Full Story)

Nanotube 'glow sticks' transform science tool kit

Artist's concept of nanotubes on the liquid surface. LANL illustration.

Many physical and chemical processes necessary for biology and chemistry occur at the interface of water and solid surfaces. Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory publishing in Nature Nanotechnology have now shown that semiconducting carbon nanotubes — light emitting cylinders of pure carbon — have the potential to detect and track single molecules in water. (Full Story)

Also from the Monitor this week:

Five honored as LANL Fellows for 2011

Five scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Bruce Carlsten, Mike Leitch, Michael MacInnes, RichardMartin, and Amit Misra, have been honored by Laboratory Director Charles McMillan as Laboratory Fellows.

Fellows are honored for their sustained, high-level achievements in programs of importance to the laboratory either a fundamental or important discovery that has led to widespread use or and having become a recognized authority in the field, including outside recognition and an outstanding record of publications. (Full Story)


Eight researchers named APS Fellows

The American Physical Society (APS) has selected eightLANL scientists as 2011 Fellows. The APS is a nonprofit organization working to advance the knowledge of physics. (Full Story)

Finally, from the Monitor:

LANL’s Anderson-Cook honored

Christine Anderson-Cook. LANL photo.

Christine Anderson-Cook of Los Alamos National Laboratory was recently selected as a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, or ASQ.

Anderson-Cook, who works in the Statistical Sciences Group at LANL, was recognized for research in quality in the areas of design of experiments and reliability, for interdisciplinary collaboration and training of statistical thinking and quality ideas, and for dedicated service to the growth and practice of the quality profession. (Full Story)

Enlarged quantum dots could yield light source for biomedical imaging

The study is the result of collaboration between UT Dallas and researchers from the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies and the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Killing the killer asteroid with a nuclear bomb: Yes we can

Computer model describes using a nuclear power source to destroy an asteroid. LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) scientists say it would be possible to blast away a killer asteroid approaching Earth with a nuclear bomb even with short notice.

As many asteroids are granular in nature and held together by gravity, a one ton nuclear blast would propagate through the asteroid blowing it into much smaller pieces that would pose no danger if they struck earth as meteors. (Full Story)

Chinese supercomputer aids climate scientists

Sunway-Bluelight Supercomputer. CNSC photo.

China finished building the Sunway-Bluelight Supercomputer last September, just one year after the debut of the Tianhe-1A, which was known as the world's fastest computer before beingsurpassed by Japan's K computer in June 2011.

Steve Wallach, a consultant to the DOE ASC program at Los Alamos National Laboratory, said the most impressive part of the computer is the fact that “most of the technology, especially the microprocessors, was homegrown.” (Full Story)

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