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Research recreates planet formation, giant planets in the laboratory

January 23, 2015 9:14 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

New laser-driven compression experiments reproduce the conditions deep inside exotic super-Earths and giant planet cores, and the conditions during the violent birth of Earth-like planets, documenting the material properties that determined planet formation and evolution processes. The experimentsreveal the unusual properties of silica under the extreme pressures and temperatures relevant to planetary formation and interior evolution.

Predicting the behavior of new concrete formulas

January 22, 2015 8:39 am | by Chad Boutin, NIST | News | Comments

Just because concrete is the most widely used building material in human history doesn’t mean it...

Peering into cosmic magnetic fields

January 21, 2015 12:03 pm | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

The generation of cosmic magnetic fields has long intrigued astrophysicists. Since it was first...

Model explores location of future U.S. population growth

January 21, 2015 8:59 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a population distribution model that...

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Self-assembled nanotextures create antireflective surface on silicon solar cells

January 21, 2015 8:05 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Reducing the amount of sunlight that bounces off the surface of solar cells helps maximize the conversion of the sun's rays to electricity, so manufacturers use coatings to cut down on reflections. Now scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory show that etching a nanoscale texture onto the silicon material itself creates an antireflective surface that works as well as state-of-the-art thin-film multilayer coatings.

Self-destructive effects of magnetically doped ferromagnetic topological insulators

January 20, 2015 8:19 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

The discovery of "topologically protected" electrical conductivity on the surface of some materials whose bulk interior acts as an insulator was among the most sensational advances in the last decade of condensed matter physics, with predictions of numerous unusual electronic states and new potential applications. But many of these predicted phenomena have yet to be observed, until now.

Solving an organic semiconductor mystery

January 16, 2015 12:07 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Organic semiconductors are prized for light-emitting diodes, field effect transistors and photovoltaic cells. As they can be printed from solution, they provide a highly scalable, cost-effective alternative to silicon-based devices. Uneven performances, however, have been a persistent problem.

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The way liquids and glasses “relax”

January 15, 2015 2:04 pm | by Michael Baum, NIST | News | Comments

A new insight into the fundamental mechanics of the movement of molecules recently published by researchers at NIST offers a surprising view of what happens when you pour a liquid out of a cup. More important, it provides a theoretical foundation for a molecular-level process that must be controlled to ensure the stability of important protein-based drugs at room temperature.

Model analyzes water footprint of biofuels

January 15, 2015 12:03 pm | by Greg Cunningham, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new version of an online tool created by Argonne National Laboratory will help biofuels developers gain a detailed understanding of water consumption of various types of feedstocks, aiding development of sustainable fuels that will reduce impact on limited water resources.

Ultra-realistic radiation detection training without radioactive materials

January 14, 2015 10:49 am | by Kenneth Ma, LLNL | News | Comments

Training of first responders on the hazards of actual radiological and nuclear threats has been challenged by the difficulties of adequately representing those threats. Training against such threats would involve using hazardous, highly radioactive materials, experiencing actual radiation doses in training, or require the distribution of radioactive material over a large geographical area.

Berkley Lab illuminates price premiums for U.S. solar home sales

January 14, 2015 8:14 am | by Allan Chen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A multi-institutional research team of scientists led by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, universities and appraisers, found that home buyers consistently have been willing to pay more for homes with host-owned solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems—averaging about $4/W of PV installed—across various states, housing and PV markets and home types.

NASA awards $30M grant to Penn State

January 13, 2015 1:17 pm | by Patricia Craig, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Penn State Univ. will lead a five-year, $30 million mission to improve quantification of present-day carbon-related greenhouse gas sources and sinks. An improved understanding of these gases will advance our ability to predict and manage future climate change.

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Solar cell polymers with multiplied electrical output

January 13, 2015 8:52 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

One challenge in improving the efficiency of solar cells is some of the absorbed light energy is lost as heat. So scientists have been looking to design materials that can convert more of that energy into useful electricity. Now a team from Brookhaven National Laboratory and Columbia Univ. has paired up polymers that recover some of that lost energy by producing two electrical charge carriers per unit of light instead of the usual one.

Controlling the properties of nanomaterials

January 13, 2015 8:43 am | by Katie Bethea, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are learning how the properties of water molecules on the surface of metal oxides can be used to better control these minerals and use them to make products such as more efficient semiconductors for organic light-emitting diodes and solar cells, safer vehicle glass in fog and frost and more environmentally friendly chemical sensors for industrial applications. 

Manipulating nanoribbons at the molecular level

January 12, 2015 12:44 pm | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Narrow strips of graphene called nanoribbons exhibit extraordinary properties that make them important candidates for future nanoelectronic technologies. A barrier to exploiting them, however, is the difficulty of controlling their shape at the atomic scale, a prerequisite for many possible applications.

World’s most powerful camera receives funding approval

January 12, 2015 8:22 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Plans for the construction of the world's largest digital camera at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have reached a major milestone. The 3,200-megapixel centerpiece of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which will provide unprecedented details of the universe and help address some of its biggest mysteries, has received key "Critical Decision 2" approval from the DOE.

Small volcanic eruptions explain warming hiatus

January 12, 2015 8:13 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

The “warming hiatus” over the past 15 years has been caused in part by small volcanic eruptions. Scientists have known volcanoes cool the atmosphere because of the sulfur dioxide that is expelled during eruptions. Droplets of sulfuric acid that form when the gas combines with oxygen in the upper atmosphere can persist for many months, reflecting sunlight away from Earth and lowering temperatures at the surface and in the lower atmosphere.

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First responders get mobile app for biodetection

January 9, 2015 9:07 am | by Susan Bauer, PNNL | News | Comments

First responders have downloaded more than 10,000 copies of a guide to commercially available, hand-portable biodetection technologies created to help them determine what they might be up against in the field. Since many first responders do not always have immediate access to a computer, a mobile version of the guide is now available for cell phones and tablets.

Quantum dots have made quantum leaps

January 9, 2015 8:57 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Outside his career as a noted nanochemist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) director Paul Alivisatos is an avid photographer. To show off his photos, his preferred device is a Kindle Fire HDX tablet because “the color display is a whole lot better than other tablets,” he says.

Compact batteries enhanced by spontaneous silver matrix formations

January 9, 2015 7:40 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

In a promising lithium-based battery, the formation of a highly conductive silver matrix transforms a material otherwise plagued by low conductivity. To optimize these multi-metallic batteries, scientists needed a way to see where, when and how these silver, nanoscale "bridges" emerge. Now, researchers have used x-rays to map this changing atomic architecture and revealed its link to the battery's rate of discharge.

Argonne partners with industry on nuclear reactor work

January 8, 2015 7:54 am | by Greg Cunningham, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Argonne National Laboratory will work with three of the world's leading nuclear products and services companies on projects that could unlock the potential of advanced nuclear reactor designs, helping create a new generation of safer, more efficient reactors. 

“Seeing” hydrogen atoms to unveil enzyme catalysis

January 7, 2015 11:03 am | by Katie Bethea, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Enzymes are catalysts that speed up chemical reactions in living organisms and control many cellular biological processes by converting a molecule, or substrate, into a product used by the cell. For scientists, understanding details of how enzymes work is essential to the discovery of drugs to cure diseases and treat disorders.

Technology quickly traces source of tainted food

January 7, 2015 10:51 am | by Kenneth Ma, LLNL | News | Comments

Foodborne illnesses kill roughly 3,000 Americans each year and about one in six are sickened, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet most contaminated foods are never traced back to their source. That’s because existing methods to track tainted food following its supply chain from table to farm are highly inefficient, jeopardizing the health of millions and costing the food industry billions.

“Iron sun”: The key to how stars transmit energy

January 6, 2015 8:34 am | by Neal Singer, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Working at temperatures matching the interior of the sun, researchers have been able to determine experimentally, for the first time, iron’s role in inhibiting energy transmission from the center of the sun to near the edge of its radiative band. Because that role is much greater than formerly surmised, the experimentally derived amount of iron’s opacity helps close a theoretical gap in the Standard Solar Model.

Researchers create successful predictions of combustion reaction rates

January 6, 2015 8:22 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, a method to successfully predict pressure-dependent chemical reaction rates, an important breakthrough in combustion and atmospheric chemistry that is expected to benefit auto and engine manufacturers, oil and gas utilities and other industries that employ combustion models.

NASA inflates chance of landing astronauts on Mars

January 5, 2015 9:28 am | by Brock Vergakis, Associated Press | News | Comments

Devising a way to one day land astronauts on Mars is a complex problem and NASA scientists think something as simple as a child's toy design may help solve the problem. Safely landing a large spacecraft on the Red planet is just one of many engineering challenges the agency faces as it eyes an ambitious goal of sending humans into deep space later this century.

Speeding cyanobacteria growth “brightens” biofuel’s future

January 2, 2015 9:27 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Rapidly growing bacteria that live in the ocean and can manufacture their own food hold promise as host organisms for producing chemicals, biofuels and medicine. Researchers are closely studying one of these photosynthetic species of fast-growing cyanobacteria using advanced tools developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to determine the optimum environment that contributes to record growth and productivity.

Possible avenue to better electrolyte for lithium ion batteries

December 22, 2014 10:04 am | News | Comments

The lithium-ion batteries that mobilize our electronic devices need to be improved if they are to power electric vehicles or store electrical energy for the grid. Berkeley Lab researchers looking for a better understanding of liquid electrolyte may have found a pathway forward.

NASA scientists find meteoric evidence of Mars water resevoir

December 19, 2014 2:26 pm | News | Comments

NASA and an international team of planetary scientists have found evidence in meteorites on Earth that indicates Mars has a distinct and global reservoir of water or ice near its surface.            

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