Friday, June 21, 2013

A long-sought phase transition in superconducting cuprates

Data set shows superconductivity pseudogap.

It's been more than a quarter century since the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity in a class of copper oxide compounds, and the materials still harbor many secrets.

Postdoc Arkady Shekhter, Albert Migliori, and colleagues at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Los Alamos National Laboratory measured the temperature-dependent elastic stiffness of two cuprate crystals. (Full Story)

Less is more: Novel cellulose structure requires fewer enzymes to process biomass to fuel

Anenzyme (blue) pulls out individual cellulose chains (pink) from the pretreated nanofiber surface (green). GLBRC image

Improved methods for breaking down cellulose nanofibers are central to cost-effective biofuel production and the subject of new research from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC).

Scientists are investigating the unique properties of crystalline cellulose nanofibers to develop novel chemical pretreatments and designer enzymes for biofuel production from cellulosic—or non-food—plant derived biomass. (Full Story)

Megadrought in U.S. Southwest: A bad omen for forests globally

Scorched trees from the 2011 Las Conchas fire in New Mexico. USGS photo.
Park Williams, a young bioclimatologist and postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has teamed up with other specialists at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Arizona to wring new insight from the data set spanning the years 1000 to 2007. Driving recently into the Jemez Mountains near his office, we pass rust-red pines, dead or dying from drought. Later, kneeling next to a freshly cut stump, he points to a ring near the bark. “That thick ring right there is probably 1998,” he says, a wetter El NiƱo year. (Full Story)

Quantum cryptography promises un-hackable industrial communications

Quantum Key Device.  LANL image.

No rules, regulations, or standards can guarantee protection if someone out there has the technology and know how to hack your system. That’s why a quantum cryptograph project at Los Alamos National Laboratory is so intriguing.

Headed by co-principal investigators Richard J. Hughes and Jane E. Nordholt, the QC team has developed a system they call network-centric quantum communications (NQC) because it uses quantum cryptography for key management using optical networks—specifically, fiber-optic cable. (Full Story)

Los Alamos has app to celebrate its history

The Los Alamos National Laboratory’s has created a free app to provide the public a way of celebrating the facility’s 70th anniversary. It is currently available through iTunes for iPhones and iPads.

We’re excited to be a part of the 70th anniversary of Los Alamos’ service to the nation,” said Associate Director for Information Technology Carolyn Zerkle in a statement. (Full Story)

Coalition presses D.C. for dollars

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities announced today that it is leading a 13-member delegation to Washington, D.C. to push for more cleanup funding for Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The group will meet with members of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation, as well as top officials at the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration to press for increased federal funding to continue environmental remediation across northern New Mexico. (Full Story)

Our view: Science matters for New Mexico

Senator Martin Heinrich.

In Northern New Mexico, we understand how important federal spending is through Los Alamos National Laboratory. Budget cuts — especially the unwise ones from the automatic spending reductions caused by the so-called sequester — are damaging New Mexico’s economy and our scientific progress.

But it’s not just about economic stability, the spending on science can make a difference to our world — particularly, as Sen. Martin Heinrich pointed out in his first speech last week in the Senate, in developing the United States’ energy independence. (Full Story)

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