Friday, March 28, 2014

Lab-made mini human to screen drugs, toxins

Illustration of an integrated desktop human testing system.

Led by researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Athena project aims to create mini versions of four artificial organs -- liver, lung, heart, and kidney -- that can be connected inside an artificial torso.

Each organ will be about the size of a smartphone screen, according to LANL, and be connected by tubing filled with artificial blood. All together, the Athena "body" should be small enough to sit on a desk. (Full Story)

Also in the Times of India

ATHENA desktop human 'body' could reduce need for animal drug tests

Project leader Rashi Iyer.  LANL photo.

Creating surrogate human organs, coupled with insights from highly sensitive mass spectrometry technologies, a new project is on the brink of revolutionizing the way we screen new drugs and toxic agents.

"There are huge benefits in developing drug and toxicity analysis systems that can mimic the response of actual human organs," said Rashi Iyer, a senior scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Also in Bio-Medicine, and R&D Magazine

Semiconductor material can be magnetized with light

William Rice holds a crystal of strontium titanate up to the light. LANL photo.

Interest in oxide-based semiconductor electronics has exploded in recent years, fueled largely by the ability to grow atomically precise layers of various oxide materials. One of the most important materials in this burgeoning field is strontium titanate (SrTiO3), a nominally nonmagnetic wide-bandgap semiconductor, and researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have found a way to magnetize this material using light, an effect that persists for hours at a time. (Full Story)

Team observe closest milemarker supernova in generation

Close proximity of the supernova helps scientists assess distances. Image from Nanowerk

The team observed the supernova a mere 12 million light years away from Earth. Finding one so close is important because astrophysicists use these stars to map distances in the universe.

The supernova, SN 2014J, was observed through the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory project, which is a scientific collaboration with California Institute of Technology,  Los Alamos National Laboratory, and others. (Full Story)

It's not easy staying green: Forests and climate change

Frontiers in Science Lecture Series presented by the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows featuring Nathan McDowell of Earth Systems Observations Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Climate warming is imposing a threat upon our forests unlike any other they have experienced in thousands of years. Warming dries the forests so that, from the perspective of the trees, even short droughts are severe. No forests appear to be immune to this challenge. (Full Story)

Innovation Summit honors 10 lab-related businesses

Ten New Mexico small businesses participating in projects using either the technical expertise or receiving other assistance from Los Alamos and Sandia are being recognized at the 13th annual Innovation Celebration.

“The technical expertise Los Alamos and Sandia principal investigators provide to small business owners is another example of the vital importance of the national laboratories to the state of New Mexico and small business owners,” said David Pesiri of Los Alamos. (Full Story)

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Bare Earth Elements: Mars rocks wear manganese coats

Several rocks on the surface of Mars are coated with distinctive dark-colored surface layers enriched in manganese that, while sharing similarities with manganese-rich rock varnish found on Earth, do not appear to be varnish themselves based on differences in trace element levels, according to new research presented Wednesday by Nina Lanza of Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)

Modeling challenges doused in simulations of important precipitation features

Researchers Los Alamos National Laboratory, at PNNL, and Sandia National Laboratories, sought to understand model biases in simulating extreme precipitation and the Intertropical Convergence Zone's structure.

This feature is fueled by thermal energy in the tropics and forces warm, moist air to rise and dump rain over the tropics, and subsequently move toward the Earth's poles, descend and dry the subtropics. (full story)

Udall bills aims to boost DOE tech transfer

Sen. Tom Udall this week introduced legislation that aims to help national laboratories, including Sandia and Los Alamos, become more effective at spinning their cutting-edge technologies into the private marketplace.

“The finest scientists in the world are doing cutting-edge research here in New Mexico’s national labs. If we can harness that amazing research by connecting innovators and entrepreneurs, New Mexico could lead the nation in high-tech business and innovation,” Udall, D-N.M., said. (full story)

Tech breakthrough with nanoscale optical switch

Photons may someday replace electrons inside cellphones, automobiles and other products. This shift got a recent boost with the development of an ultrafast, ultrasmall optical switch.

The new device, developed by a team from Vanderbilt University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Los Alamos National Laboratory, is now the smallest of the existing ultrafast optical switches. (full story)

Laser-firing ChemCam vital to Curiosity rover’s tour of Mars

Curiosity relies on the most advanced suite of instruments ever sent to the Martian surface — among them, a laser-firing tool called the ChemCam. A concept originally developed at the DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory.

ChemCam serves two key purposes: determine whether rocks and soil on Mars contain chemicals necessary for life, and identify rocks and soil for analysis by other instruments aboard the rover. (full story)

Quantum rewrites the rules of computing

A quantum computer combines computing with quantum mechanics, one of the most mysterious and complex branches of physics.

D-Wave's system at NASA may be the first commercially available quantum computer, but it's not the first quantum machine. Basic quantum computers have been built before. In 2000, scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory demonstrated a working 7-qubit system. (full story)

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Van Allen Probes improve space weather models

Van Allen Probes orbiting radiation belts. NASA Image.

Using data from NASA's Van Allen Probes, researchers have tested and improved a model to help forecast what's happening in the radiation environment of near-Earth space.

"The Van Allen Probes are gathering great measurements, but they can't tell you what is happening everywhere at the same time," said Geoff Reeves, a space scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Detecting bioterrorism: Is chemistry enough?

Kristin Omberg.  LANL photo.

A biological attack could spread through a population quickly and have a devastating effect. An early detection system would be key to reducing a population's chance of exposure. The challenge is how to detect and identify an agent before people start getting sick.

"The 2001 anthrax letters contained only a few grams of material--about two sugar cubes' worth. So how do we protect ourselves against a whole bag of sugar?" said Kristin Omberg, a Los Alamos National Laboratory chemist. (Full Story)

Production of tetrapod quantum dots closer

Quantum Materials Corp. announced that the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Thick-Shell technology will be integrated with a variety of QMC's composite tetrapod quantum dots to develop a line of advanced high performance quantum dots.

QMC has teamed with LANL and jointly written and submitted a proposal for funding to the recent DOE EERE Funding Opportunity for Solid-State Lighting Advanced Technology R&D, which aims to increase performance and market readiness of efficient LED lights incorporating improved quantum dots. (Full Story)

Nanoscale optical switch breaks miniaturization barrier

Kent Hallman checks sample alignment. Vanderbilt photo.

An ultra-fast and ultra-small optical switch has been invented that could advance the day when photons replace electrons in the innards of consumer products ranging from cell phones to automobiles.

The device has been developed by a team of scientists from Vanderbilt, Alabama-Birmingham, and Los Alamos National Laboratory and is described in the journal Nano Letters. (Full Story)

Is ECC performance price worth it?

One of several elements that separates high performance computing GPUs from their gaming and graphics brethren is the addition of Error Correction Codes (ECC).

According to researchers from the San Diego Supercomputer Center and Los Alamos National Laboratory, enabling ECC cuts the size of the system available by 10% because of the amount of memory consumed by the error correction codes. (Full Story)

Santa Fean new NSF director

France Córdova.  Purdue photo.

Santa Fe resident and astrophysicist France Córdova was confirmed Wednesday as director of the National Science Foundation. Córdova worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1979 to 1989.

“France Córdova is an internationally recognized astrophysicist with a distinguished career in academia and government service,” said Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., upon the scientist’s confirmation. (Full Story)

Bechtel-led team to manage Y-12 & Pantex

The Bechtel-led Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC  has been directed by the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration to immediately resume transitioning to take over the management and operation of the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The company also provides management and operations for NNSA at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, two of the U.S. government's premier research and development institutions. (Full Story)

Jeff Mousseau named LAESF scholarship chair

Jeff Mousseau.  LANL photo.

Jeff Mousseau, Associate Director of Environmental Programs for Los Alamos National Laboratory, is chairing the 2014 Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund campaign.

Laboratory employees contributed $308,000 to the campaign last year, and Los Alamos National Security, LLC, through its employee match program, gave $250,000. (Full Story)

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Research on bendable glass could lead to flexible mobile phones

What if one day you accidentally step on your smartphone and instead of it shattering, it simply bends?

That day may be on the way, according to Seth Imhoff, a materials scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Imhoff told Computerworld the lab is working to develop stronger and more elastic types of glass that would bend instead of shatter under duress.

The research under way at Los Alamos, a national lab in New Mexico known for classified work on nuclear weapons, could give consumers more durable smartphones, tablets and laptops. (full story)

Advances in glass alloys lead to strength, flexibility

The way that metallic glass deforms plastically is by the formation of what are called shear bands. Shear banding can occur on a macroscopic scale in granular materials, like during an avalanche or landslide, but in glass the bands are generally 10-20 nanometers wide (~3000 times thinner than a human hair!).

In their paper "Nucleation of Shear Bands in Amorphous Alloys" published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, these researchers are looking at the initiation of shear-banding events in order to better understand how to control the mechanical properties of these materials. (full story)

This story also appeared in the Los Alamos Monitor And World Industrial Reporter

Thick-Shell Quantum Dot technology increases display performance

A new thick-shell quantum dot technology has the potential to bring major improvements to the brightness of electronic displays and solid state LED lighting. Quantum Materials and the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) “giant” quantum dot (QD) technology can facilitate a 10 to 100-fold improvement in solid-state brightness over traditional nanocrystal quantum dots. (full story)

By losing their shape, material fails batteries

PNNL scientists study phosphorous-doped silicon nanowire anodes grown at DOE's Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Northwestern University, using chemical vapor deposition.

The team used experiments and molecular simulations to show that the electron-rich region causes silicon bonds to break. The bond breakage transforms crystalline silicon into an amorphous alloy of lithium and silicon. (full story)
Fourteen receive LANL Foundation scholarships

Fourteen Northern New Mexicans have received $1,000 Returning Student/Regional College scholarships from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Employees’ Scholarship Fund.

These awards help students returning to a formal education for certification or a two-year degree at an accredited regional college. Many of the students receiving these awards are pursuing new careers.

Funding comes from donations by LANL employees and a matching amount from Los Alamos National Security, LLC. The scholarships are administered by the LANL Foundation. (full story)

This story also appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican

LANL's Roger Wiens addresses engineering council

The speaker at Thursday’s event was Dr. Roger Wiens. Wiens has been building NASA instruments at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 1997. Most recently, he is the principal investigator for the ChemCam instrument carried aboard the Mars rover Curiosity, which has been exploring Mars for the past 18 months. Wiens is the author of “Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration, from Genesis to the Mars.”

The ChemCam mobile laboratory uses lasers to analyze rocks and soil on Mars. The team hopes ChemCam will continue to transmit data for seven to nine years, or even longer, Wiens said. (full story)

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