Friday, May 5, 2017

Unraveling the mysteries of lightning

Tess Light writes about the Laboratory’s study of lightning. Because lightning produces optical and radio frequency signals similar to those from a nuclear explosion, it’s important to be able to distinguish whether such signals are caused by lightning or a nuclear event. As part of the global security mission at Los Alamos, scientists use lightning to help develop better instruments for nuclear test-ban treaty monitoring and, in the process, have learned a lot about lightning itself. (Full Story)

Why this company's scanning technology is a smugglers' nightmare

Decision Sciences nuclear material/contraband scanning system, DSI illustration.

Last week, Decision Sciences said it received a contract with the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs to install one of its next-generation cargo scanning systems at its main port.

Though a pilot project, Decision Sciences is betting it will lead to further deployments of its technology, which is licensed from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and has been refined for more than a decade.

“In terms of total volume, Singapore is the second-largest port in the world,” said Johnson. “So this is a very important event for Decision Sciences.” (Full Story)

Scientists search for evidence of life on Mars in Babbitt Ranches rock varnish

Nina Lanza, LANL photo.

Nina Lanza, a Los Alamos National Laboratory planetary geologist who has been involved in NASA’s Desert RATS (Desert Research and Technology Studies) astronaut training projects, spacesuit tests and rover excursions on Babbitt Ranches in the past, says the relationship between microbes and rock varnish has been a source of long-standing controversy.

Lanza is an expert in laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, a technique using light and heat to understand the composition of rocks. Through instruments on the Mars Curiosity Rover, she is currently gathering data about the Martian surface. (Full Story)

A safer rocket motor designed for CubeSats

CubeSat motor test firing, LANL image.

Engineers at Los Alamos National Laboratory developed a six-motor array that fits beneath a CubeSat and keeps the solid fuel and oxidizer separate inside the rocket.

The motors use a new type of solid-based chemical fuel called a segregated fuel oxidizer. It keeps the solid fuel and oxidizer separate inside the rocket. Mixed fuel-and-oxidizer motors are much more common but much more unstable. (Full Story)

New director tapped for DOE Nanotechnology Center

Andreas Roelofs, LANL photo.

Physicist Andreas Roelofs is the new director of the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT), a Department of Energy-funded nano research facility that has a core center at Sandia National Laboratories and a gateway research site at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the agency announced May 2.

"We are extremely pleased to have Andreas join CINT as center director and in the Experimental Physical Sciences Directorate at Los Alamos as group leader of the CINT technical organization," said Mary Hockaday, associate director of Experimental Physical Sciences. (Full Story)

Trio of NM startups working with national labs to advance next-generation technologies

UbiQD solar window prototype, from UbiQD.

Pajarito Powder manufactures materials allowing fuel cell electric vehicles to work better and has been working with Los Alamos National Laboratory since last August to help commercialize such technologies developed by the lab and by Pajarito.

iBeam Materials, a Santa Fe-based company, spun out from Los Alamos National Lab in 2011. And UbiQD is the third New Mexico startup participating in the DOE’s small business vouchers program.  The Los Alamos company was paired with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in August. (Full Story)

LANL Foundation Awards $53,000 In Education And Community Grants

The LANL Foundation awarded 21 grants totaling $53,000 to support education and community programs in Northern New Mexico during the first-quarter grantmaking period.

Twelve programs received Education Outreach funding that directly supports K–12 public school children. An additional nine Community Outreach Grants were awarded to programs aligned with the LANL Foundation’s mission and vision. (Full Story)

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