Friday, June 15, 2018

TNT could be headed for retirement after 116 years on the job

Explosives chemist David Chavez, LANL photo.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland have developed a novel "melt-cast" explosive material that could be a suitable replacement for Trinitrotoluene, more commonly known as TNT.

"The Army and the Laboratory, through the Joint Munitions Program, have been looking for a TNT replacement," said David Chavez, an explosives chemist at Los Alamos. "Something with non- or low-toxicity that has the right melting point so it can be liquified and cast, for use in a variety of munitions." (Full Story)

Also from Laboratory Equipment

How satellite imagery could combat infectious diseases around the world

When researchers at New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the country’s most important national security labs, were looking to study how to forecast dangerous infectious diseases like dengue, they knew they had a few tools at their disposal.

The idea, recalls Sara Del Valle, a leader of LANL’s epidemiological forecasting team, is that people often go online to check symptoms they may be feeling before they visit a doctor. “Because dengue is one of the common diseases in Brazil,” Del Valle says, “we could see a lot of interest in dengue on Google, [people searching] about 25 different terms, like ‘mosquito,’ ‘dengue,’ the names of mosquitoes,” and so on. (Full Story)

Seafloor cables that carry the world’s Internet traffic can also detect earthquakes

Fiber optic cables shuttle internet and telecom traffic between continents. From Science.

A technique described online in Science this week promises to take advantage of more than 1 million kilometers of fiber optic cables that criss-cross the ocean floors and carry the world's internet and telecom traffic. By looking for tiny changes in an optical signal running along the cable, scientists can detect and potentially locate earthquakes.

By filling in the "seismic desert" in the ocean crust and showing where seafloor earthquakes occur and how often, the method could illuminate new fault structures and regions where tectonic plates are colliding or rifting apart, says Charlotte Rowe, a seismologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. (Full Story)

Powering an outpost on Mars or the moon
Kilopower control room, LANL photo.

New concepts for nuclear reactors that would have the ability to generate power for long-term space missions stalled in the 1970s, according to David Poston, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Designs hit roadblocks due to high costs or complicated mechanics.

In the most advanced testing any model has reached in four decades, scientists from LANL and NASA recently put their Kilopower reactor – a small system they say opens doors for astronaut outposts on the moon or Mars, as well as quicker, more efficient scientific missions into deep space – through its paces. (Full Story)

 Get with the program

LANL astrophysicist Mark Galassi, SF Reporter photo.

The world of children’s computer programming is brimming with toy-like interfaces that allow the user to build an ice cream cone or make a tortoise walk across the monitor to pleasing visual effect.

"And it gets you no closer to the real business of programming," says Mark Galassi, an astrophysicist at Los Alamos National Lab. This is part of why he runs a 10-hour, one-weekend crash course at the Santa Fe Public Library called Serious Computer Programming for Youth. (Full Story)

Scientists go deep to quantify perovskite properties

Perovskite structure, LANL illustration.

Scientists led by Rice University and Los Alamos National Laboratory have discovered electronic properties in quantum-scale devices that are likely to impact the growing field of low-cost perovskite based optoelectronics.

In an open-access Nature Communications paper, researchers led by Los Alamos scientists Aditya Mohite and Jean-Christophe Blancon, both of whom will join Rice this summer, studied the behavior of excitons trapped in quantum wells made of crystalline, halide-based perovskite compounds. (Full Story)
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