Friday, May 20, 2016

Why Mars? The allure (and challenge) of colonizing the red planet

Roger Wiens, ChemCam program leader, LANL image.

I have been fortunate to lead a joint French-American team using a laser-based sensor, ChemCam, which was developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory and is now aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover. When ChemCam fires its extremely powerful laser pulse at a Martian rock, it vaporizes an area the size of a pinhead. The system’s telescope peers at the flash of glowing plasma created by the vaporized material and records the colors of light contained within it. These spectral colors are then interpreted by a spectrometer, allowing us to determine the elemental composition of the vaporized material. (Full Story)

See the video

Perovskite solar cells self-heal in the dark

From left, Aditya Mohite, Jean-Christophe Blancon and Wanyi Nie, LANL photo.               

A new study has found both the cause and a solution for the pesky tendency of perovskite solar cells to degrade in sunlight, a research breakthrough potentially removing one roadblock to commercialization for this promising technology. In a key finding, researchers at Los Alamos National  Laboratory have found those degraded devices exhibit self-healing powers when given a little time in the dark. (Full Story)

Perovskite solar cells heal in the dark

A perovskite crystal, LANL image.

Researchers led by Aditya Mohite of the Los Alamos National Lab in the US are now saying that the materials are unstable because the photocurrent they produce gradually decreases over time. Thanks to capacitance measurements on devices made from the perovskites and time-resolved photoluminescence measurements on the thin films of the materials, the researchers were able to observe that the photocurrent reduces because meta-stable charge trap states activated by light form at relatively low energies deep in the perovskite bandgap. (Full Story)

Also from Energy Matters

Rare-earth-free magnet made from cheap materials

The material's crystalline structure, from Electronics Weekly.

Researchers have created a powerful permanent magnet out of iron and nitrogen, two plentiful cheap materials, as part of a programme to cut the need for ‘rare earth’ metals.

“To the best of our knowledge, this could be the first experimental evidence of the existence of a giant saturation magnetisation, an obviously large coercivity, with a magnetic energy product of up to 20 MGOe, in a bulk-type FeN sample.” said the team from the University of Minnesota, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Five NM firms win Venture Fund awards

Five Northern New Mexico businesses will receive Venture Acceleration Fund awards. The awards are funded primarily by Los Alamos National Security, LLC and administered by the Regional Development Corporation.

The Venture Acceleration Fund helps companies through marketing and technology development activities. The awards are structured as zero-interest loans, with repayment required only under certain circumstances. (Full Story)

To subscribe to Los Alamos Press Highlights, please e-mail and include the words subscribe PressHighlights in the body of your email message; to unsubscribe, include unsubscribe PressHighlights.

Please visit us at