Friday, August 19, 2016

Science on the Hill: Something new under the sun

Perovskite crystal photovoltaic device, LANL image.    

Although the goal of cheap, plentiful energy from the sun turns out to be a work in progress, recent research breakthroughs at Los Alamos National Laboratory are helping to deliver on the promise of truly cheap solar, with several surprising fringe benefits.

Using a hot spin-casting process, the team discovered it could create a perovskite film with very large-grained crystals oriented a particular way that increased the electrical conductivity. (Full story)

Isotope research opens new possibilities for cancer treatment

Isotope Production Facility, LANL photo.         

A new study at Los Alamos National Laboratory and in collaboration with Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource greatly improves scientists’ understanding of the element actinium.

"The short half-life of actinium-225 offers opportunity for new alpha-emitting drugs to treat cancer, although very little has been known about actinium because all of its isotopes are radioactive and have short half-lives," said Maryline Ferrier, a Seaborg post-doctoral researcher on the Los Alamos team. (Full story) 

Trinity Supercomputer wiring reconfiguration saves millions

Trinity installation, LANL photo.        

LANL reports that a moment of inspiration during a wiring diagram review has saved more than $2 million in material and labor costs for the Trinity supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The Laboratory’s High Performance Computing facilities team, led by Data Center Manager Ron Velarde of HPC-Design (HPC-DES). discovered the potential to re-engineer Cray’s initial wiring diagram for the power feed to Trinity’s computing racks. (Full story)

Tiny satellites: The latest innovation

A computer rendering using arbitrary colors to
distinguish fields, from Descartes.

Other startups in the business have specialized in satellite-image analysis. Descartes Labs Inc., created by several former government scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has focused on agriculture.

On Aug. 9, Descartes delivered its 2016 U.S. corn production forecast, based on analysis of one petabyte of imagery and data—1 million gigabytes—that was run through a cluster of 30,000 computer processors. (Full story)

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