Friday, August 26, 2016

New class of fuel cells offer increased flexibility, lower cost

Yu Seung Kim (left) and Kwan-Soo Lee, LANL photo.  

A new class of fuel cells based on a newly discovered polymer-based material could bridge the gap between the operating temperature ranges of two existing types of polymer fuel cells, a breakthrough with the potential to accelerate the commercialization of low-cost fuel cells for automotive and stationary applications.

"Polymer-based fuel cells are regarded as the key technology of the future for both vehicle and stationary energy systems," said Yu Seung Kim, the project leader at Los Alamos. (Full Story)

What does Mars look like? More like us than we thought

Jens Frydenvang, LANL image.

Curiosity accomplished this last December when it discovered the chemical silica, a mineral compound of silicon and oxygen, which on Earth is usually deposited by water.

“On Earth, all the environments where we find this kind of silica require some kind of water activity,” said Jens Frydenvang, an astrogeologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, in a short video following the discovery. “Often it’s also a very nice environment to find microbial life.” (Full Story)

Episode 11: Mad about manganese

Nina Lanza.  Smith College photo by Gabriella Marks.

The Mars Curiosity Rover has an impressive suite of instruments, but none incite as much excitement as ChemCam, a laser/camera combo that vaporizes rocks and analyzes their components. ChemCam is firing more than it ever has before, and Nina Lanza, a staff scientist on its team, is helping make some pretty remarkable discoveries with it. On this episode, Nina tells us about a high concentration of manganese recently uncovered that tells us a lot about Mars' past, and suggests that it might have been complete with a lot more oxygen than we initially thought. (Full Story)

Los Alamos to investigate solar dangers to the power grid

NASA illustration.

Next month Los Alamos National Laboratory launches a new investigation of how those solar events could affect a grid like a long string of Christmas lights – increasingly long and susceptible to a cascade of problems.

The three-year Los Alamos program will be funded internally for about $5 million – and will determine what transformers, circuits, stations and conduits could be fried by a flare-up from the sun, said Mike Henderson, leader of the national security-focused program. (Full Story)

Also in Laboratory Equipment Magazine

2D Perovskite for high efficiency and stable photovoltaics, optoelectronics

Three types of large-area perovskite solar cells, LANL image.

2D layered perovskite with crystalline properties has demonstrated more than triple the efficiency of previous 2D perovskites, while also demonstrating significantly more stability than 3D perovskite material. The technology shows promise not only for photovoltaic applications, but also for high-performance optoelectronic devices. To create 2D perovskites with high efficiency and stability, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory produced thin films of near-single-crystalline quality. (Full Story)

David L. Clark receives Seaborg Award

David L. Clark. Photo by Rod Searcey.             

Los Alamos National Laboratory chemist David L. Clark has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry, sponsored by the American Chemical Society Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology.

“Dave is well-known for his breadth of accomplishment in actinide synthesis, characterization, and electronic structure elucidation, as well as the development of modern multi-method approaches to the characterization of complex actinide behaviors,” said Alan Bishop, Principal Associate Director of the Laboratory’s Science, Technology and Engineering directorate.  (Full Story)

Also in the Post this week:

High-impact innovations are R&D 100 award finalists

Pulak Nath, with the Pulmonary Lung Model, LANL photo.

Eight Los Alamos National Laboratory innovations were selected as finalists for the 2016 R&D 100 Awards, which honor the top 100 proven technological advances of the past year as determined by a panel selected by R&D Magazine. The finalists, with projects covering energy, computing, health care, and materials, demonstrate the continued success of Laboratory researchers in technical innovation for national security science. (Full Story)

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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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Friday, August 12, 2016

Ford gets $6 million from feds for fuel-cell research

Fuel cell stack in a test stand at Los Alamos, LANL photo.

The U.S. Department of Energy is awarding $6 million to Ford Motor Co. and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to help pay for projects that will advance efforts to develop fuel cell and hydrogen technologies for cars.

Ford will use the funding to develop a fuel-cell catalyst production process that will result in lower cost, higher purity and more active and durable catalysts, according to the office of Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn. (Full Story)

NASA selects microphone for Mars 2020 mission

NASA artist’s concept of Mars 2020 rover.

Mars Microphone will be integrated with SuperCam and delivered early in 2018 to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and then to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) end 2018, where it will be mounted on the Mars 2020 rover.

SuperCam is the result of close scientific cooperation between teams led by Dr Roger Wiens at LANL and Dr Sylvestre Maurice at the IRAP astrophysics and planetology research institute. (Full Story)

Editorial: Plutonium plan makes sense

TA-55, LANL photo.

The Obama administration and Congress have ordered up new plutonium pits as part of a plan to modernize the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.        

Currently, the only place where [new plutonium pits] may be manufactured is Los Alamos National Laboratory. The overall modernization plan is estimated to cost $350 billion in the next decade.

If a nation is going to have a nuclear arsenal – and in today’s world, the U.S. should – it is important to keep it up to date and reliable. (Full Story)

UbiQD gets Solar Energy grant

The UbiQD team, from CS

UbiQD, a New Mexico-based quantum dot manufacturer, has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant by the US National Science Foundation.

The 12-month $225,000 award is intended to help fund research and development of luminescent solar concentrating glass windows with quantum dot coatings. In July, the company expanded its license to include the proof-of-concept work on this technology, originally developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in collaboration with Italy's University of Milano-Bicocca. (Full Story)

New Mexico National Guard wins HAZMAT Challenge

NM Guard personnel at the HAZMAT Challenge. NM Guard photo.

One of the survey teams of the New Mexico National Guard’s 64th Civil Support Team – Weapons of Mass Destruction earned first place overall in the 20th Annual Los Alamos National Laboratory’s HAZMAT Challenge. The competition was held July 25-29, 2016, here, and saw nine teams compete for the coveted title. This is the second time in three years the 64th CST earned the top ranking. (Full Story)

SF brewery startup bubbles to the top

HoneyMoon Brewery, a Santa Fe startup that developed a new ‘kombucha beer,’ got a huge boost last month, when it won $20,000 at the Miller Lite Tap the Future regional competition in Houston.

HoneyMoon Brewery, launched in 2014 by CEO Ayla Bystrom-Williams and co-founder James Hill, developed a process with help from Los Alamos National Laboratory that combines kombucha and beer fermentation to create a tasty new beer with potential health benefits. (Full Story)

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Researchers develop optically switchable chiral THz metamolecules

Optically switchable chiral THz metamolecules. Image from Photonics.

A multi-institutional team of researchers including scientists with Los Alamos National Laboratory has created the first artificial molecules whose chirality can be rapidly switched from a right-handed to a left-handed orientation with a beam of light on them. Switchable molecules hold potentially huge possibilities for the application of terahertz technologies across a wide range of fields, including biomedical research, homeland security and ultrahigh-speed communications. (Full Story)

NNSA reaches important milestone with B61-12 life extension program

B61-12 readied for flight test, USAF image.

The B61-12 LEP is conducted by Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M.; Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. and Livermore, Calif.; and the nuclear security enterprise production plants, including the Kansas City (Mo.) National Security Campus and Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. The B61-12 includes a USAF provided tail-kit assembly section, designed by Boeing Company under contract to the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center. (Full Story)

An Earthlike, habitable past for Mars

A lake partially filling Mars' Gale Crater, NASA illustration.

Curiosity has found evidence of fresh water on Mars as well as the presence of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur -- all key ingredients in supporting life. While microbes playing a part might be speculative at this point, the recent discovery has raised more questions.

"The only ways on Earth that we know how to make these manganese materials involve atmospheric oxygen or microbes," Los Alamos National Laboratory Planetary Scientist Nina Lanza said in the report. "Now we're seeing manganese oxides on Mars, and we're wondering how the heck these could have formed?" (Full Story)

UbiQD wins grant to turn windows into solar generators

UbiQD founder and President Hunter McDaniel, UbiQD photo.

The Los Alamos-based startup Ubiquitous Quantum Dots, or UbiQD LLC, believes it can harness the solar rays that beam through windows every day to power consumer products, and eventually entire buildings.

It’s the latest potential application for UbiQD’s quantum dot manufacturing process, which it licensed from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Hunter helped develop that technology as a post-doc at LANL. (Full Story)

Also from the ABQ Journal this week:

UNM: Our ties to federal labs in New Mexico benefit students

“Over the next five or 10 years, both Sandia and Los Alamos will have to replace probably a third of their workforce,” said Joseph Cecchi, associate provost for national laboratory relations. “I think it’s very important that (we’re) educating students to step into those roles.” (Full Story)

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