Friday, March 9, 2018

Los Alamos National Lab unveils 21st Century radioactivity sensors

Jonathan Dowell with a Gamma Lighthouse Detector mounted on a HAZMAT robot, LANL photo.

For the future of radioactivity detection, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory looked to nautical history of past centuries.

The “lighthouse detectors,” which are a product of more than six years of development by inventor Jonathan Dowell and colleagues at Los Alamos, adapted the concept of the old-time nautical warning system. But instead of warning sailors away from the hazards of shore, the advanced new tools can alert the presence and direction of radioactivity.

The detectors, which have been honed in size by 80 percent, are now about the size of a peanut butter jar, said officials. (Full Story)

“Let’s Talk Exascale” podcast looks at co-design center for particle-based applications

Tim Germann.

In this Let’s Talk Exascale podcast, Tim Germann from Los Alamos National Laboratory discusses the ECP’s Co-Design Center for Particle Applications (COPA).

“The Co-Design Center for Particle Applications (COPA) is focused on four sub-motifs: short-range particle-particle (e.g., MD and SPH), long-range particle-particle (e.g., electrostatic and gravitational), particle-in-cell, and additional sparse matrix and graph operations of linear-scaling quantum MD. COPA serves as centralized clearinghouse for particle-based methods, and as first users on immature simulators, emulators, and prototype hardware. Deliverables include “Numerical Recipes for Particles” best practices, libraries, and a scalable open exascale software platform.” (Full Story)

Catalysts: high performance lies on the edge

Single iron atoms (bright dots) on nanostructured carbon (dark purple), ORNL photo.

Platinum is not an abundant element, but it is a popular catalyst. Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory synthesized a catalyst made from iron, nickel, and carbon. No platinum. The catalyst had the highest activity to date for a platinum group metal (PGM)-free material used in fuel cells. Experiments showed that the iron-nitrogen reactive sites were predominantly located at the surface-exposed edges, or steps, of the carbon. The reactive sites were not inside the carbon as previously predicted.

Atomic-level microscopy offers insight into the success of a PGM-free alternative. It’s based on cheap, abundant elements—iron, nitrogen, and carbon. The insights are guiding future research and development of high-performance PGM-free catalysts. (Full Story)

Students test robot-building skills

Members of the EspaƱola Middle School SumoBot team. SUN photo.

Huddled around a series of laptops arranged on two tables pushed together, 13 students from EspaƱola Middle School watched as fellow seventh-grader Marcos Johnson Cuevas adjusted a line of code that would change the behavior of the robot they had been working on since the beginning of the semester.

Each Friday, since the beginning of January, Matthew Williams, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and former member of the Los Alamos Public Schools Board of Education, came to Espinoza’s and Abergos’s classes to help them design and build their robot. (Full Story)

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