Friday, June 27, 2014

Scientist highlights the importance of teachers

Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan
(Courtesy Photo)
The leader of the federal science lab founded to create the atomic bomb said here Monday said that having more citizens educated in science “will create a better democracy.”

Science and technology have become such driving forces in society that having a population of voters who understand the issues “will make a better society,” Charles F. McMillan, director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said Monday at the 4th annual EXSEED Conference at Loma Linda University. (full story)

Science Matters: LANL group working on improving solar cells

Quantum dot LSC devices under ultraviolet illumination
(LANL Photo)
One of the tours offered to community members this month at Los Alamos National Laboratory took them behind the security fence to the Center for Advanced Photophysics. There, bent over spectroscopes, reaching into glove boxes and turning on high-powered lasers in darkened rooms, free of dust and ambient vibrations, a team of about 30 people are working to realize a more perfect solar cell. (full story)

This story also appeared in Compound Semiconductor, Laser Focus World, Photonics dot com, and the Los Alamos Monitor

Researchers Review Studies on Nanotwinned Metallic Materials

Bright-field transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images
of magnetron sputtered (a) epitaxial nanotwinned (NT) Cu,
(b) epitaxial NT Ag (20), (c) polycrystalline NT 330 stainless
steel films (arrows indicate the location of twin boundaries),
and (d) electrodeposited (ED) NT Cu (14). (e) EBSD image of
a defective twin boundary in sputtered NT Cu (X indicates a
twin boundary that has defects—the so-called defective twin
boundary). ( f ) Extremely fine twins in ED NT Cu nanopillars.
(g) NT Au nanowires. (Courtesy Image)
Dr. Xinghang Zhang and his colleagues, Irene J. Beyerlein and Amit Misra from Los Alamos National Labs, reviewed studies on nanotwinned metallic materials. Nanotwins were shown to induce numerous unique properties in metallic materials, including high strength and ductility, high temperature thermal stability and superior radiation tolerance. (full story)

Robot Rodeo Underway at Los Alamos National Lab

A competitor at the annual Robot Rodeo tests his skill
(LANL Photo)
Eight teams from around the Southwest will be putting their bomb squad robots to the test as part of a three-day competition at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)

This story also aired twice on KRQE (story 1, story 2) and on KOAT

Probing Fukushima with Cosmic Rays Should Speed Cleanup

Los Alamos National Laboratory postdoctoral researcher Elena
Guardincerri, right, and undergraduate research assistant Shelby
Fellows prepare a lead hemisphere inside a muon tomography
machine, which can peer inside closed containers and provide
detailed images of dense objects such as nuclear materials or
other items of interest. (LANL Photo)
Los Alamos National Laboratory will partner with Toshiba Corporation to use a Los Alamos technique called muon tomography to safely peer inside the cores of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors and create high-resolution images of the damaged nuclear material inside without ever breaching the cores themselves. The initiative could reduce the time required to clean up the disabled complex by at least a decade and greatly reduce radiation exposure to personnel working at the plant. (full story)

Nvidia, ARM Team Up to Tackle Supercomputing

Three computer makers have signed on to use Nvidia graphics processors and ARM-based CPU cores to launch the world's first 64-bit ARM development systems for high performance computing (HPC).

In addition, Nvidia is working with Los Alamos National Laboratory to "explore how we can unite GPU acceleration with novel technologies like ARM to drive new levels of scientific discovery and innovation," said Pat McCormick, senior scientist at the lab. "We aim to leverage the latest technology advances, both within and beyond the HPC market, to move science forward in entirely new ways." (full story)

Observations and simulations improve space weather models

NASA's Van Allen Probes sample the Earth's magnetosphere.
(LANL Image)
Los Alamos researchers and collaborators used data from NASA's Van Allen Probes to demonstrate an improved computer model to help forecast what is happening in the radiation environment of near-Earth space—a place seething with fast-moving particles and a space weather system that varies in response to incoming energy and particles from the sun, potentially threatening satellites that orbit there. The work was published in a pair of articles in a special section on early results from the Van Allen probes in the Geophysical Research Letters. (full story)

Photosynthesis research project wins $14.4m funding from US Department of Energy

A research project aimed at understanding and learning from the natural process of photosynthesis to advance the development of clean energy has received further funding from the US Department of Energy totaling $14.4m.

The PARC collaboration is hosted and administered by Washington University whose partners include investigators from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, North Carolina State University, Northwestern University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, University of California-Riverside, University of Glasgow, University of New Mexico, University of Pennsylvania, University of Sheffield,, Princeton University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Penn State. (full story)

Multi-fuel power generation gets boost with NICTA deal

NICTA’s Hugh Durrant-Whyte (Courtesy Photo)
The global demand for efficient ‘multi-fuel’ electricity generation has brought together some of the world’s leading computer scientists in an R&D effort aimed at creating systems to connect and manage electricity and natural gas supplies on a shared platform.

As part of a deal announced today the work will take place under a twelve-month Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between NICTA and Los Alamos National Laboratory, announced today. (full story)

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Assessing Fukushima damage without eyes on the inside

Workers outside the Fukushima plant. From the NY Times.

A particle that barely ranks as a footnote in a physics text may be about to lift the cleanup of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Japan over a crucial obstacle.          

To clean up the reactors, special tools must be custom-made, according to Duncan W. McBranch, the chief technology officer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the tools “can be much better designed if you had a good idea of what’s inside.” (Full Story)

LANL technology to examine Fukushima damage

Christopher Morris explains how the detectors work. From KRQE

About 5,900 miles away in New Mexico, LANL researchers were working on technology they now believe may show Japanese nuclear power plant workers exactly how bad the failed reactors are on the inside.

“They are much too radioactive to go in and look at things,” said Christopher Morris, the lead researcher on the project. The LANL device instead sends particles called muons through the damaged reactor cores. (Full Story)

How scientists will look inside Fukushima’s radioactive cores

A Fukushima reactor building.  From Gizmodo

The Los Alamos National Laboratory and Toshiba are putting the finishing touches on a muon-powered imaging device that they believe will let them see deep inside the reactors without putting any workers in danger or risking further radiation leaks. The technology basically spots muons when they go in one side of the reactor and checks to see if they bumped into any atoms inside and were diverted on the way through. Over time, this will help them map out the inside of the reactor. (Full Story)
Also in The Verge, Homeland Security Newswire, and the Los Alamos Monitor

Nanoengineering boosts carrier multiplication in quantum dots four-fold

Core/shell PbSe/CdSe quantum dots. LANL illustration.

Los Alamos researchers have demonstrated an almost four-fold boost of the carrier multiplication yield with nanoengineered quantum dots. Carrier multiplication is when a single photon can excite multiple electrons. Quantum dots are novel nanostructures that can become the basis of the next generation of solar cells, capable of squeezing additional electricity out of the extra energy of blue and ultraviolet photons. (Full Story)

Also in R&D magazine, and EE Times

What’s in that bottle?

It says lime juice, but is it really?

Imagine you have to quickly figure out just what liquid is inside a bottle. The container might be opaque, or even metal. You can’t open it, and you can’t trust what is on the label. That scenario is faced in airports, at border crossings, and in response to hazardous-material or bomb scares. Moreover, the need to accurately identify liquids is common in quality control of everything from medicine to cosmetics to foods. (Full Story)

Los Alamos National Laboratory installs new HPC system

The Wolf Supercomputer. LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory recently installed a new high-performance computer system, called Wolf, which will be used for unclassified research.

Wolf, manufactured by the Cray Inc., has 616 compute nodes each with two 8-core 2.6 GHz Intel “Sandybridge” processors, 64 GB of memory and a high speed Infiniband interconnect network. It utilizes the Laboratory’s existing Panasas parallel file system as well as a new one based on Lustre technology. (Full Story)

Also in Government Computer News

Taking pictures with protons

One of the first proton test images is the internal workings of a wristwatch.  LANL image.

A new facility for using protons to take microscopic images has been commissioned at the ring accelerator of the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany.

The proton microscope is an international collaboration consisting of Los Alamos National Laboratory, GSI, the Technical Univ. Darmstadt and the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics, Russia. (Full Story)

How tiny algae could be the big future of carbon-free fuel

Chemist in front of algae fuel processing tubes, from Take Part

José Olivares, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who runs the NAABB consortium, said the tiny algae they’re creating potentially could yield 1,000 gallons to 4,000 gallons per acre per year.

While algae is typically 99 percent water by weight, the strains the scientists are developing contain up to 40 percent lipids by weight. “We need to provide organisms that are robust, and provide the most lipid content possible,” said Olivares. (Full Story)

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Video: Neutron imaging lets researchers look inside irradiated nuclear fuel

This video gives an overview of recent energy-dispersive neutron imaging by the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center using fuel materials irradiated at the Idaho National Laboratory's Advanced Test Reactor. 

By analyzing the neutrons that penetrate an object, the technique gives researchers a way to see inside dense shielding materials and fuel cladding. The images also show isotope distribution. (Watch Here)

Shiny quantum dots brighten future of solar cells

Quantum dot LSC devices under ultraviolet illumination, LANL photo.          

A house window that doubles as a solar panel could be on the horizon, thanks to recent quantum-dot work by Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers and scientists from University of Milano-Bicocca.

“The key accomplishment is the demonstration of large-area luminescent solar concentrators that use a new generation of specially engineered quantum dots,” said lead researcher Victor Klimov of the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP) at Los Alamos. (Full Story)

Local inventor’s cancer-detection device up and running at national treatment center

Ed Flynn, inventor of a technology to detect tiny Tumors, ABQ Biz First photo.

Albuquerque’s Senior Scientific announced this week that its MRX II cancer detection device is now up and running in its first major installation at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

The MRX II, invented by Ed Flynn, who is a former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist, could be a big step forward in early detection, the company said. The device can “see” the super tiny particles as they bind to certain cells. Because it works on such a tiny scale, the device can spot the tiniest tumors before they become dangerous, the company said. (Full Story)

Taos High grad awarded leadership award from Los Alamos employees

Issa Wilson at the kickoff ceremony.  LANL photo.

A poised and polished Issa Wilson wowed scientists at Los Alamos J. Robert Oppenheimer Study Center when he spoke at the Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund kickoff reception.

A native Taoseño who has divided his time between Lama, Pilar and Ranchos de Taos, Wilson told the group, “I always thought of Los Alamos as an ominous competitor until I received this award and could look past the brainpower I experienced in debate and the raw strength of its swim team. Now I appreciate the heart of Los Alamos.” (Full Story)

Vigil Enterprises nabs regional SBA award

Vigil Enterprises has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as Region VI Subcontractor of the Year. Los Alamos National Laboratory nominated Vigil Enterprises for the award.

For a company to land the SBA award, it must stand out in categories such as competitive pricing, quality, delivery and customer satisfaction. Government entities comprise the majority of the firm’s clients. (Full Story)

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Desert scientists turn to rainforest for climate answers

Scientist Heath Powers, foreground, and technician Vagner Castro at work in Brazil. LANL photo.

Nearly a quarter of the way through their two-year project, a team of scientists deployed to Brazil's Amazon Basin is unraveling the mysteries of how land and atmospheric processes affect tropical hydrology and climate.

“Our job is to go into climatically undersampled regions where there’s not a lot of data,” said Kim Nitschke, leader of the Los Alamos National Laboratory-based Field Instrument Deployments and Operations (FIDO) team. (Full Story)

LANL demos extreme scale indexing

LANL photo.          

An HPC middleware project currently underway at Los Alamos National Laboratory has reached a significant milestone. The new supercomputing tool, developed as part of the Multi-dimensional Hashed Indexed Middleware (MDHIM) project, made 1,782,105,749 key/value inserts per second into a globally-ordered key space on Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Moonlight supercomputer. The demonstration showcases the potential of MDHIM to help enable data exploration at enormous scale. (Full Story)

This is the bleeding edge of solar materials research

Transparent solar "window" material.  LANL photo.      

#4 Quantum dots: Quantum dots are tiny pieces of semiconductor crystals. Researchers are using them to make solar cells because the energy level of the semiconductor can be tuned by changing the size of the dots. Scientists can also use quantum dots to make solar concentrators. These scientists at Los Alamos National Labs are using quantum dots to develop solar window tech. (Full Story)

LANL CAP does its best to stabilize stream banks

Willow saplings planted along canyon wetland. LANL photo.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory Corrective Actions Program (CAP) planted nearly 10,000 willows in the Pueblo Canyon wetland in April to stabilize stream banks badly damaged by September 2013 floods.

Collaborating with Mother Nature to control sediment migration, CAP planted nearly 10,000 willows in April to stabilize the stream banks in the Pueblo Canyon wetland which was badly damaged by the floods. (Full Story)

Also from the Monitor this week:

LANL reps talked stewardship projects

Los Alamos National Laboratory representatives Dr. Phillip Noll, Jennifer Payne and LeAnn Purtzer discussed ongoing environmental stewardship projects at LANL last week.

The trio talked about LANL’s efforts to evaluate impacts of laboratory activities on cultural resources, assess ecological risks, and prepare environmental assessments, cultural resources reports and mitigation plans. (Full Story)

New video: Using neutrons to study nuclear fuel

Fuel rod imaged with neutrons.  LANL video.

In the development of advanced nuclear fuels, researchers need to understand the physical and isotopic properties of the fuel as it's exposed to high temperatures and very high radiation fields. In this video you'll get a glimpse of how Los Alamos National Laboratory is using a pulsed neutron source at LANSCE to develop new safer and more economic nuclear fuels. (Full Story) Watch this video here

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