Friday, March 24, 2017

Breaking the ‘speed limit': Simulation shows monster black holes' rapid growth

Quasar halo simulation containing a supermassive black hole. LANL image.

"It turns out that while supermassive black holes have a growth speed limit, certain types of massive stars do not," said Joseph Smidt, a researcher at the theoretical design division of Los Alamos National Laboratory and the first author on the new work. "We asked, what if we could find a place where stars could grow much faster, perhaps to the size of many thousand suns; could they form supermassive black holes in less time?"

The researchers compared their models to the most distant known energetic galactic center, called a quasar, and one of the most massive of those objects, which is also ancient, to see whether that method could have quickly grown them to full size. (Full Story)

Also from HPC Wire and Space Daily

Quantum dot solar inefficiency source found

Quantum dot solar cells could become more efficient, now that the Los Alamos Lab has uncovered a mechanism that has been holding them back.

The dots are made form electro-optically active materials whose size as well as composition controls the photon energy that they interact with, allowing their absorption (and emission) wavelength to be tuned by particle size. They can also be tuned to deliver multiple electron-hole pairs from one photon, which has allowed quantum dot solar cells to operate at 10% efficiency, according to Los Alamos. (Full Story)

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'Flying saucer' quantum dots hold secret to brighter, better lasers

Spherical core of the quantum dot nanoparticle, UT image.

Fresh insights into living cells, brighter video projectors and more accurate medical tests are just three of the innovations that could result from a new way of fabricating lasers.

The new method, developed by an international research team from U of T Engineering, Vanderbilt University, the Los Alamos National Laboratory and others, produces continuous laser light that is brighter, less expensive and more tuneable than current devices by using nanoparticles known as quantum dots. (Full Story)

Uncovering the origins of cancer

Ludmil Alexandrov, New Mexican photo.        

“The question that bothers me and interests me the most is what causes cancer,” said Ludmil Alexandrov, 30, a J. Robert Oppenheimer fellow at Los Alamos, who will spend the next five years studying the mutational fingerprints of more than 5,000 cancer patients around the world.

“If you take any given cancer patient, can you say cancer is caused by A, B, C, D?” Alexandrov said, adding that is “a puzzle in my head that we are trying to solve.”

With the exclusion of cancer related to smoking, Alexandrov said, “Eight out of 10 cancers we cannot explain; we don’t know what caused them.” (Full Story)

Less radiation in inner Van Allen belt than previously believed

Van Allen Probes circle radiation belts, LANL illustration.

The inner Van Allen belt has less radiation than previously believed, according to a recent study in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Observations from NASA's Van Allen probes show the fastest, most energetic electrons in the inner radiation belt are actually much rarer and harder to find than scientists expected. This is good news for spacecraft that are orbiting in the region and can be damaged by high levels of radiation. The results will also help scientists better understand -- and detect -- effects from high-altitude nuclear explosions. (Full Story)

Also from the LA Daily Post

Can our grid withstand a solar storm?

When the last really big solar storm hit Earth in 1921, the Sun ejected a burst of plasma and magnetic structures like Zeus hurling a thunderbolt from Mount Olympus. Earth’s magnetic field funneled a wave of electrically charged particles toward the ground, where they induced a current along telegraph lines and railroad tracks that set fire to telegraph offices and burned down train stations.

Los Alamos National Laboratory has been studying space weather for more than 50 years as part of our national security mission to monitor nuclear testing around the globe, and part of that work includes studying how the radiation-saturated environment of near space can affect technology and people. (Full Story)

Scanning tunneling microscopy reveals unexpected optical phonon effect

Optical phonon condensate droplets, LANL image.         

"We did not predict this B-E condensate in our model. This is an absolutely new observation," said Alexander "Sasha" Balatsky of Los Alamos National Laboratory, a coauthor on the paper with a research team from Air Force Research Laboratory, The Pennsylvania State University, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Nordita Center for Quantum Materials, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University.

The new substance may be useful for phonon-based quantum computers, and it may also shed light on the conditions required to form biological Fröhlich condensates of collective modes. (Full Story)

Featured R&D 100 Award Winner PuLMo

Section of the Pulmonary Lung Model, LANL image.

To avoid lung disease complications, scientists and engineers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed PuLMo: Pulmonary Lung Model—a miniature, tissue-engineered lung platform that precisely mimics the response of human lungs to pharmaceuticals and other agents.

The principal application of PuLMo, a winner of a 2016 R&D 100 award, is to revolutionize the reliability of drug toxicity assessments and better predict the efficacy of a new drug in humans. Since PuLMo is the size of an actual human lung, such miniaturization makes it possible to evaluate multiple units at a time. (Full Story)

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