Friday, March 30, 2018

Underground neutrino experiment sets the stage for deep discovery about matter

Researchers work on the delicate wiring of a cryostat,
which is like a thermos under vacuum that chills the detectors
that are the heart of the MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR.

If equal amounts of matter and antimatter had formed in the Big Bang more than 13 billion years ago, one would have annihilated the other upon meeting, and today's universe would be full of energy but no matter to form stars, planets and life. Yet matter exists now. That fact suggests something is wrong with Standard Model equations describing symmetry between subatomic particles and their antiparticles. In a study published in Physical Review Letters, collaborators of the MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR, an experiment led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have shown they can shield a sensitive, scalable 44-kilogram germanium detector array from background radioactivity. (Full story)

Self-assembling, tunable interfaces found in quantum materials

A Graphic of a spontaneously emerging
interface in a quantum material.

A potential revolution in device engineering could be underway, thanks to the discovery of functional electronic interfaces in quantum materials that can self-assemble spontaneously.

"This illustrates that if we can learn to control and exploit the remarkable properties at the interfaces of quantum materials, this will likely result in a new generation of devices beyond our current imagination," said Marc Janoschek, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who, with David Fobes, also of Los Alamos, co-led the international research team making the discovery. Their findings were published today in Nature Physics. "However, because quantum materials are chemically much more complex compared to 'conventional' materials such as semiconductors, it remains a challenge to fabricate clean quantum material interfaces." (Full story)

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist invents “lighthouse” radiation detector

A small, fast and accurate novel radiation
detector developed at Los Alamos.

Los Alamos National Laboratory recently unveiled a new smaller radiation detector invented at the lab that uses a sweeping beam to quickly pinpoint a radiation source to reduce radiation exposure risks for workers.

The detectors use directional sensors to scan through a narrow angle looking for radiation. LANL uses the devices aboard HAZMAT robots for emergency response and to conduct geologic surveys. (Full story)

LANL: Public Lectures Explore Powering Space Missions On Mars Begin April 2

Artist's illustration of the umbrella-like heat
radiators of four Kilopower nuclear reactors.

Los Alamos nuclear scientists Patrick McClure and David Poston will discuss the small nuclear reactor developed at the Laboratory to power missions on Mars during three Frontiers in Science lectures beginning April 2.

“When we imagine sending humans to live on Mars, the moon or other planets in the not-so-distant future, a key question is: what kind of power source is small yet potent enough to reliably power an extraterrestrial habitat, and also make fuel for the trip home?” McClure said.

The project, known as Kilopower, is being developed in conjunction with NASA. In the talk, Los Alamos project lead McClure and chief reactor designer Poston will address the design and testing of the reactor, and its possible use for a range of applications in space exploration. (Full story)