Friday, June 7, 2013

Metamaterial flexible sheets from LANL could transform optics

The LANL metamaterials team include, from left, Nathaniel K. Grady, Hou-Tong Chen, and Jane E. Heyes. LANL photo.

Research from a team of Los AlamosNational Laboratory (LANL) scientists is leading to ultrathin, planar, lightweight, and broadband polarimetric photonic devices and polarimetric optics that would boost security screening systems, infrared thermal cameras, energy harvesting, and radar systems.

The research, titled "Terahertz Metamaterials for Linear Polarization Conversion and Anomalous Refraction," was published online May 16 in Science Express, and aims to replace bulky conventional optics with flexible metamaterial sheets that are about the thickness of a human hair. (Full Story)

Story also appeared in R&D Magazine

Muon scattering at the Fukushima nuclear reactors

Muon radiograph. From Physics Today.

A team from Los Alamos National Laboratory hopes to hasten the dismantlement and remediation efforts by remotely imaging the damaged reactor cores with atmospheric muons produced by cosmic rays.

The particles' penetrating power would produce an x-ray-like image that includes shadows from the denser regions. But because muons are strongly scattered by uranium and other heavy elements, the researchers plan to use their recently developed method that tracks both incident and transmitted particles using two muon detectors, fore and aft of the building. (Full Story)

Small, laser-beam box detects clandestine nuclear materials

Laser energy 50 times greater than the worldwide output of electrical power slams into a target to produce neutrons at the TRIDENT facility. LANL photo.

More bad news today for bad guys. The scientific brain trust at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has discovered a powerful new method for detecting clandestine nuclear materials.

In February, an international team of researchers used laser-driven neutrons to confirm the presence and quantity of nuclear material inside of a closed container. The experiment is likely to lead to table-top-sized or truck-mounted neutron generators that could be used to catch nuclear smugglers. (Full Story)

Team shows first nuclear material detection by laser-driven neutrons

Focal point of the TRIDENT target chamber.  LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers have successfully demonstrated for the first time that laser-generated neutrons can be enlisted as a useful tool in the War on Terror.

The international research team in February used the short-pulse laser at Los Alamos's TRIDENT facility to generate a neutron beam with novel characteristics that interrogated a closed container to confirm the presence and quantity of nuclear material inside. (Full Story)

Meet the scientists on YouTube

Story also appeared in Homeland Security Newswire

Carbon nanotube catalyst could jumpstart e-cars, green energy

A high-resolution microscopic image of a new type of catalyst. LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have designed a new type of nanostructured-carbon-based catalyst that could pave the way for reliable, economical next-generation batteries and alkaline fuel cells, providing for practical use of wind- and solar-powered electricity, as well as enhanced hybrid electric vehicles.

The new catalyst doesn’t use precious metals such as platinum, which is more expensive per ounce than gold, yet it performs under certain conditions as effectively as many well-known and prohibitively expensive precious-metal catalysts developed for battery and fuel-cell use. (Full Story)

Story also appeared in Science Daily

Citizen Science: Aurorasaurus

Aurora as seen from the International Space Station. NASA image.

The project’s aim is to create a highly accurate, easy-to-use real-time map of confirmed aurora sightings. The idea is that this will increase your chances of seeing the rare beautiful northern lights during the maximum of the solar cycle (2012-2014).

Backed by Los Alamos National Laboratory, the project aims to build a predictive capability for the lights' visibility based on citizen scientists’ positive and negative sightings and through social media. (Full Story)

Laws of physics say quantum cryptography is unhackable

The beam splitter in a quantum cryptography unit from the EU’s Integrated Project Qubit Applications. From Wired.

“In this case, it doesn’t matter what technology the adversary has, they’ll never be able to break the laws of physics,” said physicist Richard Hughes of Los Alamos National Laboratory, who works on quantum cryptography.

Hughes points out that quantum cryptography offers many advantages. In a smart grid – a power grid in which information on usage is used to improve efficiency – it is important that the various control centers understand exactly what the electricity is doing in different areas. (Full Story)

N.M. at forefront of super-fast cytometers

University of New Mexico scientists have created a way to immensely accelerate the processing power of flow-through cytometers, or cell meters, which are used worldwide to screen tissue samples for clinical research.

Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories have a long history in developing cytometers. The field grew out of post-World War II research into the effects of radiation on biological organisms. (Full Story)

Stanford partners with museum to host medieval manuscripts online

Manuscript depicting a church, circa 1400. From the Walters Art Museum.

Stanford University Libraries has partnered with the Walters Art Museum, a public museum in Baltimore, Md., to offer more than 100,000 high-resolution images of medieval manuscripts stored at the museum online.

The partnership between Stanford University and the Walters Art Museum began after Robert Sanderson, an information scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory with an interest in digital humanities. (Full Story)

LANL launches anniversary app

Los Alamos National Laboratory has launched its first app for iPhones and iPads as part of the laboratory’s yearlong celebration of 70 years serving the nation. The free application is available from the Apple Store.

The app enables users to learn more about the Laboratory’s national security mission, cutting edge research, unique history, top-flight scientists and the many other people who work at the lab. It also provides easy access to news, feature stories, publications, social media and videos. (Full Story)

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