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  • 2017-12-22 09:05:31
  • Article ID: 687232

From Inner to Outer Space, Los Alamos Science Goes Big in 2017

Supercomputers, top experimental facilities drive breakthroughs from earth to space, bio to black holes, materials innovation to high-tech invention

  • Credit: LANL

    Los Alamos National Laboratory put its Big Science capabilities to wide, productive use in 2017.

 

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Dec. 21, 2017—With a top-story list populated by breakthroughs in supercomputing, accelerator science, space missions, materials science, life science, and more, Los Alamos National Laboratory put its Big Science capabilities to wide, productive use in 2017.

“No discipline left untouched—that’s the story from Los Alamos in 2017,” said Alan Bishop, Principal Associate Director for Science, Technology and Engineering at Los Alamos. “In a remarkably productive year, Laboratory researchers have grabbed headlines for their research in everything from physics to explosives modeling to HIV vaccine developments. Teamwork across the disciplines from biology and biotech to astrophysics and space science drives our innovation in support of the Laboratory’s national security mission. All the work capitalizes on the Lab’s world-class supercomputing and experimental facilities—and its people.”

Here are some of the big science stories from Los Alamos as 2017 comes to a close:

Unique imaging of a dinosaur’s skull tells evolutionary tale—Using the Laboratory’s unique neutron-imaging and high-energy X-ray capabilities, researchers have exposed the inner structures of the fossil skull of a 74-million-year-old tyrannosauroid dinosaur nicknamed the Bisti Beast in the highest-resolution scan of a tyrannosaur skull ever done.

Los Alamos’ Trinity Supercomputer lands on two top-10 lists—It made number three on the High Performance Conjugate Gradients (HPCG) Benchmark project and number seven on the Top500 list. Working with the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Laboratory applies the  capabilities of Trinity to providing assessments that ensure the nation’s nuclear stockpile is safe, effective and secure.

Mars News

Los Alamos research fundamental to first efficacy study for mosaic HIV-1 preventive vaccine—International partners announced the first efficacy study for an investigational HIV-1-preventive “mosaic” vaccine. The HIV-1 mosaic vaccine in the trial was originally designed at Los Alamos National Laboratory by theoretical biologist Bette Korber and her team.

Machine-learning earthquake prediction in lab shows promise—By listening to the acoustic signal emitted by a laboratory-created earthquake, a computer science approach using machine learning can predict the time remaining before the fault fails.

Breaking the supermassive black hole speed limit—Using computer codes for modeling the interaction of matter and radiation related to the Lab’s stockpile stewardship mission, scientists simulated collapsing stars that resulted in supermassive black holes forming in less time than expected, cosmologically speaking—in the first billion years of the universe.

First-ever U.S. experiments at new x-ray facility may lead to better explosive modeling—For the first time in the United States, time-resolved small-angle x-ray scattering (TRSAXS) is used to observe ultra-fast carbon clustering and graphite and nanodiamond production in the insensitive explosive Plastic Bonded Explosive (PBX) 9502, potentially leading to better computer models of explosive performance.

Scalable clusters make HPC R&D easy as Raspberry Pi—A quest to help the systems software community work on very large supercomputers without having to actually test on them has spawned an affordable, scalable system using thousands of inexpensive Raspberry Pi nodes. It brings a powerful high-performance-computing testbed to system-software developers, researchers, and others who lack machine time on the world’s fastest supercomputers.

Quantum dots amplify light with electrical pumping—Los Alamos–designed quantum dots achieve a breakthrough with electrical stimulation, showing the feasibility of a new generation of highly flexible, electrically pumped lasers processable from solutions that can complement or even eventually displace existing laser diodes. These prospective devices can enable a variety of applications, from RGB laser modules for displays and projectors to multi-wavelength micro-lasers for biological and chemical diagnostics.

Eight Los Alamos innovations win R&D 100 Awards—Since 1978 Los Alamos has won more than 145 of the prestigious R&D 100 Awards, and this year it took eight, plus an innovation award. “The R&D 100 Awards represent the breadth, depth and innovation of the science and engineering at our Laboratory. They also reflect our partnerships with other government laboratories, universities and private industry,” said Director Charlie McMillan.

About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, BWXT Government Group, and URS, an AECOM company, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

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Columbia Researchers Squeeze Light into Nanoscale Devices and Circuits

Columbia investigators have made a major breakthrough in nanophotonics research, with their invention of a novel "home-built" cryogenic near-field optical microscope that has enabled them to directly image, for the first time, the propagation and dynamics of graphene plasmons at variable temperatures down to negative 250 degrees Celsius. If researchers can harness this nanolight, they will be able to improve sensing, subwavelength waveguiding, and optical transmission of signals.

Self-Assembling 3D Battery Would Charge in Seconds

A cross-campus collaboration led by Ulrich Wiesner, professor of engineering at Cornell University, has resulted in a novel energy storage device architecture that has the potential for lightning-quick charges for electronic devices.

Understanding the Generation of Light-Induced Electrical Current in Atomically Thin Nanomaterials

Scientists added an imaging capability to Brookhaven Lab's Center for Functional Nanomaterials that could provide the optoelectronic information needed to improve the performance of devices for power generation, communications, data storage, and lighting.

Diamond 'Spin-Off' Tech Could Lead to Low-Cost Medical Imaging and Drug Discovery Tools

An international team led by scientists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley discovered how to exploit defects in nanoscale and microscale diamonds and potentially enhance the sensitivity of magnetic resonance imaging and nuclear magnetic resonance systems while eliminating the need for their costly and bulky superconducting magnets.

PROSPECTing For Antineutrinos

The Precision Reactor Oscillation and Spectrum Experiment (PROSPECT) has completed installation of a novel antineutrino detector that will probe the possible existence of a new form of matter - sterile neutrinos.

How to Cope with Cases of Mistaken Identity: MINERvA's Tale of Pions and Neutrinos

Neutral pion production is a major character in a story of mistaken identity worthy of an Agatha Christie novel.

Perfecting the Noise-Canceling Neutrino Detector

MicroBooNE neutrino experiment cuts through the noise, clearing the way for signals made by the hard-to-detect particle.

Supersonic Waves May Help Electronics Beat the Heat

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory made the first observations of waves of atomic rearrangements, known as phasons, propagating supersonically through a vibrating crystal lattice--a discovery that may dramatically improve heat transport in insulators and enable new strategies for heat management in future electronics devices.

Riding Bacterium to the Bank

Jet fuel, pantyhose and plastic soda bottles are all products currently derived from petroleum. Sandia National Laboratories scientists have demonstrated a new technology based on bioengineered bacteria that makes it feasible to produce all three from renewable plant sources.

Flexible, Highly Efficient Multimodal Energy Harvesting

A piezoelectric ceramic foam supported by a flexible polymer support provides a 10-fold increase in the ability to harvest mechanical and thermal energy over standard piezo composites, according to Penn State researchers.


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Power to the People

The University of Utah College of Engineering has received a $2 million grant to create a laboratory and develop new technology for communities with backup power sources, known as microgrids, so they can quickly and more securely operate in the event of a massive power outage due to a natural disaster or cyberattack.

The U. S. Department of Energy Announces $34 Million for Small Business Research and Development Grants

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced that the Department of Energy will award 219 grants totaling $34 million to 183 small businesses in 41 states. Funded through DOE's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, today's selections are for Phase I research and development.

Raising the Heat to Lower the Cost of Solar Energy

Sandia National Laboratories will receive $10.5 million from the Department of Energy to research and design a cheaper and more efficient solar energy system.The work focuses on refining a specific type of utility-scale solar energy technology that uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver on a tower.

Solar Turbines, Inc. Selects Penn State to Establish Center of Excellence in Gas Turbines

After completing an extensive evaluation of institutions of higher learning in the United States and Europe, Solar Turbines Incorporated has chosen Penn State as a university partner to establish a center of excellence in gas turbines. The center involves numerous faculty across Penn State's College of Engineering.

ORNL Facility Receives American Nuclear Society's Historic Landmark Designation

The American Nuclear Society has designated the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory an ANS Nuclear Historic Landmark, recognizing more than 50 years of isotope production and nuclear fuel cycle research.

Steven Cowley named director of DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Steven Cowley, a theoretical physicist and international authority on fusion energy, has been named director of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), effective July 1.

Scientists Turn X-ray Laser Into World's Fastest Water Heater

Scientists have used a powerful X-ray laser at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to heat water from room temperature to 100,000 degrees Celsius in less than a tenth of a picosecond, or millionth of a millionth of a second.

PNNL Part of a New National Center for Near-Atomic Resolution of Biological Molecules

A collaboration between the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Oregon Health & Science University has been chosen as a national center for a Nobel Prize-winning method of imaging, cryo-electron microscopy, that is revolutionizing structural biology.

SLAC Will Open One of Three NIH National Service Centers for Cryo-Electron Microscopy

The National Institutes of Health announced today that it will establish a national service and training center for cryogenic electron microscopy research at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Planck Collaboration Wins 2018 Gruber Cosmology Prize

The Planck Team--including researchers in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (Berkeley Lab's) Computational Research and Physics divisions--have been awarded the 2018 Gruber Cosmology Prize.


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Cracking the Code of Superconductivity and Magnetism

Neutron probes and theory reveal how electrons cooperate at lower temperatures.

The Secret to Measuring an Antineutrino's Energy

Scientists are developing better models that describe both neutrino and antineutrino data, which can offer insights into the nature of the universe.

How to Cope with Cases of Mistaken Identity: MINERvA's Tale of Pions and Neutrinos

Neutral pion production is a major character in a story of mistaken identity worthy of an Agatha Christie novel.

Perfecting the Noise-Canceling Neutrino Detector

MicroBooNE neutrino experiment cuts through the noise, clearing the way for signals made by the hard-to-detect particle.

Keeping Tabs on Polysulfides in Batteries

Optimizing lithium-sulfur battery electrolytes for long life.

Huge "Thermometer" Takes Temperatures of Tiny Samples

New spectroscopic technique measures heat in itty-bitty volumes that could reveal insights for electronics and energy technology.

Water, Water, Everywhere, but How Does It Flow?

Scientists use new X-ray technique to see how water moves at the molecular level.

Magnetized Plasmas That "Twist Light" Can Produce Powerful Microscopes and More

A non-twisting laser beam moving through magnetized plasma turns into an optical vortex that traps, rotates, and controls microscopic particles, opening new frontiers in imaging.

Whistling While You Work: Fusion Scientists Find Inspiration in Atmospheric Whistles

Just like lightning, fusion plasmas contain odd electromagnetic whistler waves that could control destructive electrons in fusion reactors.

Zero Tolerance in Tokamaks: Eliminating Small Instabilities Before They Become Disruptions

Energetic ions and beam heating cause or calm instabilities, depending on the tokamak's magnetic field.


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