Friday, February 16, 2018



Neutron lifetime puzzle deepens, but no dark matter seen

Two ways to measure neutron lifetimes, Quanta illustration.

The discrepancy between the “bottle” and “beam” measurements has persisted since both methods of gauging the neutron’s longevity began yielding results in the 1990s. At first, all the measurements were so imprecise that nobody worried. Gradually, though, both methods have improved, and still they disagree.

Now, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico have made the most precise bottle measurement of the neutron lifetime yet, using a new type of bottle that eliminates possible sources of error in earlier designs. The result, which will soon appear in the journal Science, reinforces the discrepancy with beam experiments and increases the chance that it reflects new physics rather than mere experimental error. (Full story)



Novel exciton interactions in carbon nanotubes

 

Stephen Doorn performs spectroscopic
characterization of carbon nanotubes. LANL photo.

Nanotechnology researchers studying small bundles of carbon nanotubes have discovered an optical signature showing excitons bound to a single nanotube are accompanied by excitons tunneling across closely interacting nanotubes. That quantum tunneling action could impact energy distribution in carbon nanotube networks, with implications for light-emitting films and light harvesting applications.

"Observing this behavior in carbon nanotubes suggests there is potential to detect and control a similar response in more complex, multi-layered semiconductor and semiconductor-metal heterostructures,” said Stephen Doorn, of the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Los Alamos and a coauthor of the study, recently published in Nature Communications. (Full story)

 
Augmented reality combines worlds to make the real world safer

Augmented reality goggles project holograms
onto the existing environment to help solve
infrastructure challenges, LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory is investigating the technology’s applications and writing software in support of the Laboratory’s national security mission, such as tracking inventories or giving workers instructions for using equipment on the job and in real time. Other new uses of augmented reality technology being developed at Los Alamos may save time, money, and even lives by improving procedures for structural-health monitoring. (Full story)

Friday, February 9, 2018



Only a weapons lab can find a weapons lab

Author Nancy Jo Nicholas, Principal Associate Director of Global Security at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Decades ago, after developing the first atomic bomb, Los Alamos National Laboratory developed and implemented scrupulous material control and accounting for its own nuclear material. That research led to inventing a wide range of satellite-borne and Earth-based instruments; many of the latter are used by the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor nuclear activity. Instruments in space detect X-rays, gamma rays, and neutrons – all signatures of a nuclear explosion – anywhere on the globe, including hyper-secretive North Korea. Scientists tease out those signatures from the data “noise.” (Full Story)



Early quantum computing investors see benefits

The first systems stringing together tens of quantum bits are being made available for researchers to use, from the Financial Times.

Quantum computing will potentially mark one of the tech world’s biggest revolutions, harnessing the quirks of quantum mechanics to speed up machine computation exponentially.  

John Sarrao, associate director for theory, simulation, and computation at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, is among the scientists looking at how to invest in the technology.

The organisation is taking a long-term view of quantum computing from a national security point of view. However, according to Mr Sarrao, there are also benefits to be gained in the shorter term. (Full Story)



How quantum dots supercharge farming, medicine and solar, too

Quantum dots fluoresce under UV light, from LANL video.

Researchers from places like the Los Alamos National Laboratory and University College London, companies like Solterra and UbiQD, and many others are using quantum dots to help improve the efficiency of solar power.

Though it's not quite as simple as "TV, but backwards" it's possible to create a solar cell that uses quantum dots. So instead of taking electricity and creating light, like they do on a TV, they take light and create electricity. Although still very early in development, researchers expect to get quantum dot-based solar cells to be at least as efficient, and likely more so, than a traditional solar cell. (Full Story)



Taking solar energy to the edge

Layered perovskite, LANL image.    

At CINT researchers discovered an efficient way to make combined solar panels and light-emitting devices. Rather than using blocks of hybrid perovskite materials, they layered several thin sheets on top of each other.

Hybrid perovskites are a new class of low-cost materials that can capture and emit light. This material can be synthesized in several forms: bulk 3-D structures, 2-D crystal sheets, and 1-D rods. In particular, layered compounds can be created by stacking 2-D crystal sheets with thin organic layers in between. (Full Story)



4 nontraditional Taos students receive LANL scholarships

Sixteen Northern New Mexico adult students returning to college, including four from Taos, each received $1,000 scholarships from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation. The awards from the Los Alamos Employees' Scholarship Fund help local, nontraditional students enter higher education programs to expand job opportunities or pursue new careers. (Full Story)



Photos: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Career Fair

Los Alamos National Lab's Chris Werner, left, speaks with RPI student Daniel Petti, RPI Photo.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Center for Career and Professional Development hosted its Spring Career Fair on Wednesday. The fair is designed to help students support their search for full-time, co-op, internship, or summer employment opportunities.

From renewable energy to cybersecurity, from biotechnology to materials science, from big data to nanotechnology, the world needs problem solvers—exactly the kind of talent Rensselaer produces—to address the urgent issues of today and the emerging issues of tomorrow. (Full Story)

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Friday, February 2, 2018


Missing neutrons may lead a secret life as dark matter

SciAm illustration.

If neutrons are turning into dark matter, the process could also produce gamma-ray photons, according to Fornal and Grinstein’s calculations. “We have some germanium gamma-ray detectors lying around,” says Christopher Morris, who runs neutron experiments at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

By serendipity, he and his team just recently installed a large tank to collect neutrons on their way from the start of the experiment to the point where physicists try to measure their lifetimes. This tank provided a large holding cell where many neutrons might decay into dark particles, if the process in fact occurs, and produce gamma-rays as a by-product. (Full story)


Novel computational biology model accurately describes dynamics of gene expression

Yen Ting Lin, LANL photo.

Using a simple analytical framework for random events within a predictable system, computational biologists have found a new way to accurately model certain forms of gene expression, including the body's 24-hour internal clock.

"In this study, we develop a simplifying method to reduce a class of commonly adopted gene expression models to a mathematical model, the PDMP, because it is easier to analyze and simulate than previous models," said Yen Ting Lin, corresponding author of the study and an applied mathematician in the Theoretical Division and Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full story)



Los Alamos scientists conduct study to help predict diseases

Harshini Mukundan speaks to a local
volunteer, from the Monitor.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and the Medical Associates of Northern New Mexico are looking for volunteers in Los Alamos County to participate in a respiratory pathogen study and provide information and swab samples.

“The goal of this study is to develop a system that can predict future emergence of infections, propose the best public health solutions to prevent spread of diseases and provide suitable treatment for infections,” said Harshini Mukundan, of Los Alamos’ Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy group. (Full story)


New technique paves the way for better 2-D catalysts

Multilayered Molybdenum Disulfide,
from Carnegie/DOE.

As part of the research, scientists Jun Lou and colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory developed a technique that allowed them to peer through windows created by an electron beam in order to measure the catalytic activity of molybdenum disulfide – the 2-D material that shows potential for being used in applications using electrocatalysis to separate hydrogen from water.

Results from the initial tests proved that the sheet’s edge is where most of the production is coming from. “We’re using this new technology to identify the active sites that have been long-predicted by theory,” said Lou. “There was some indirect proof that the edge sites are always more active than the basal planes, but now we have direct proof.” (Full story)