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The Lead

Unraveling the origins of lunar swirls

June 1, 2015 11:27 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

As the closest object in the night sky, Earth’s moon and its craters have long been studied. These craters have been formed over billions of years by impacts from both asteroids and comets. A new study examines how cometary impacts may transform the surface of the moon in ways distinct from asteroidal impacts, producing unique signatures that are consistent with observations of mysterious, ghost-like features called “lunar swirls."

One step closer to mimicking gamma-ray bursts

May 27, 2015 9:56 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Using ever-more energetic lasers, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have...

Using seismic signals to track above-ground explosions

May 21, 2015 2:58 pm | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (lLNL) researchers have determined that a tunnel bomb...

American energy use up slightly

May 21, 2015 8:00 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Americans' energy use continued to grow slowly in 2014, fueled by increases in the use of...

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Implantable electrode coating good as gold

May 4, 2015 11:51 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Univ. of California, Davis, have found that covering an implantable neural electrode with nanoporous gold could eliminate the risk of scar tissue forming over the electrode’s surface. The team demonstrated that the nanostructure of nanoporous gold achieves close physical coupling of neurons by maintaining a high neuron-to-astrocyte surface coverage ratio.

Researchers toss around rugby-shaped hohlraums for ignition experiments

May 4, 2015 8:09 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

For several years, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has pursued an indirect drive approach to ignition, using cylindrically shaped gold cans known as hohlraums. In this configuration, all of NIF’s 192 laser beams enter the hohlraum through a pair of laser entrance holes and deposit their energy on the gold (or depleted uranium) interior surface.

Promising x-ray microscope poses technical challenges

May 1, 2015 10:08 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

You may think the aisles in your neighborhood convenience store are crowded, but they’d look positively spacious compared to the passageways in the NIF target bay. The target bay bristles with dozens of instruments needed for NIF experiments, ranging from inserters that hold NIF targets in place to cameras and other diagnostics that record the results of NIF shots.

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3D-printed aerogels improve energy storage

April 23, 2015 8:03 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new type of graphene aerogel will make for better energy storage, sensors, nanoelectronics, catalysis and separations. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have made graphene aerogel microlattices with an engineered architecture via a 3D printing technique known as direct ink writing.

Instrument prompts researchers to rethink how Mercury formed

April 17, 2015 7:51 am | by Stephen Wampler, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A versatile instrument developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and riding on the first spacecraft to ever orbit Mercury is causing researchers to rethink their theories on the planet’s formation. Known as the Gamma-Ray Spectrometer, or GRS, the instrument is part of a suite of seven instruments onboard NASA’s Mercury MESSENGER spacecraft.

30 years and counting, the x-ray laser lives on

April 14, 2015 11:46 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

More than 50 years ago, when the laser was a mere five years old, laser physicists dreamed of the development of an x-ray laser to expand the frontier of knowledge. The concept goes back to the mid-1960s, when scientists realized that laser beams amplified with ions would have much shorter wavelengths than beams amplified with gas.

LLNL deploys world’s highest peak-power laser diode arrays

March 13, 2015 8:17 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has installed and commissioned the highest peak power laser diode arrays in the world, representing total peak power of 3.2 MW. The diode arrays are a key component of the High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS), which is currently under construction at LLNL.

Determining structural evolution under pressure

March 6, 2015 10:46 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

The study of material properties under the conditions of extreme high pressures and strain rates is very important for understanding meteor, asteroid or comet impacts, as well as in hyper velocity impact engineering and inertial confinement fusion capsules. In a recent study, a team scientists report an important finding that can be used to determine the evolution of structures under high pressure and strain rates.

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New research could lead to more efficient electrical energy storage

March 4, 2015 11:52 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have identified electrical charge-induced changes in the structure and bonding of graphitic carbon electrodes that may one day affect the way energy is stored. The research could lead to an improvement in the capacity and efficiency of electrical energy storage systems needed to meet the burgeoning demands of consumer, industrial and green technologies.

Providing data for nuclear detectives

March 3, 2015 3:26 pm | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Fans of the popular TV series “CSI” know that the forensics experts who investigate crime scenes are looking for answers to three key questions: “Who did it; how did they do it; and can we stop them from doing it again?” The field of nuclear forensics, an important element of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s national security mission, has similar goals and uses similar techniques, but with even higher stakes.

Research gets to the core of Earth’s formation

March 3, 2015 7:54 am | by Anne M Stark, LLNL | News | Comments

Violent collisions between the growing Earth and other objects in the solar system generated significant amounts of iron vapor, according to a new study by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The results show that iron vaporizes easily during impact events, which forces planetary scientists to change how they think about the growth of planets and evolution of our solar system.

Giving shape to black holes’ intense winds

February 20, 2015 7:41 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

By looking at the speed of ambient gas spewing out from a well-known quasar, astronomers are gaining insight into how black holes and their host galaxies might have evolved at the same time. Using the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), researchers were able to use the x-ray spectra of an extremely luminous black hole (quasar PDS 456) to detect a nearly spherical stream of highly ionized gas streaming out of it.

Preventing greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere

February 5, 2015 7:41 am | by Caroline Perry, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

A novel class of materials that enable a safer, cheaper and more energy-efficient process for removing greenhouse gas from power plant emissions has been developed by a multi-institution team of researchers. The approach could be an important advance in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

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Early Mesoamericans affected by climate change

January 28, 2015 10:22 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

Scientists have reconstructed the past climate for the region around Cantona, a large fortified city in highland Mexico, and found the population drastically declined in the past, at least in part because of climate change. The research appears in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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.

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 described in 1959, a phenomenon known as Weibel filamentation instability has generated tremendous theoretical interest from astrophysicists and plasma physicists as a potential mechanism for seed magnetic field generation in the universe. However, direct observation of Weibel-generated magnetic fields remained challenging for decades.

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.

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.

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.

Multidisciplinary and Collaborative R&D

December 17, 2014 9:00 am | by Tim Studt | Articles | Comments

Every year, in conjunction with the R&D 100 Awards Banquet, R&D Magazine’s editors convene a panel of R&D leaders to discuss the current issues confronting their organization’s R&D programs, staff and administration. This year’s panel was held on November 7, 2014, at the Bellagio, Las Vegas, Nev., and included three R&D managers from industry and one each from government and academic organizations.

Cells build “cupboards” to store metals

December 16, 2014 3:06 pm | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers in conjunction with collaborators at Univ. of California, Los Angeles have found that some cells build intracellular compartments that allow the cell to store metals and maintain equilibrium. Nearly 40% of all proteins require metal ions such as zinc, copper, manganese or iron for activity.

X-ray laser acts as tool to tack life’s chemistry

December 8, 2014 9:03 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

An international research team that includes researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has captured the highest-resolution protein snapshots ever taken with an x-ray laser, revealing how a key protein in a photosynthetic bacterium changes shape when hit by light.

Researchers develop efficient method to produce nanoporous metals

November 25, 2014 10:42 am | by Kenneth Ma, LLNL | News | Comments

Nanoporous metals have a wide range of applications because of their superior qualities. They posses a high surface area for better electron transfer, which can lead to the improved performance of an electrode in an electric double capacitor or battery. Nanoporous metals offer an increased number of available sites for the adsorption of analytes, a highly desirable feature for sensors.

LLNL, RAND partner to advance policy analysis through supercomputing

November 25, 2014 8:15 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the RAND Corporation will collaborate to expand the use of high-performance computing in decision analysis and policymaking. The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday, Nov. 21. The arrangement provides a vehicle for the two organizations to explore the use of policy analysis methodologies with supercomputing applications.

Measuring NIF’s enormous shocks

November 24, 2014 8:10 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

NIF experiments generate enormous pressures in a short time. When a pressure source of this type is applied to any material, the pressure wave in the material will quickly evolve into a shock front. One of NIF’s most versatile and frequently used diagnostics, the Velocity Interferometer System for Any Reflector (VISAR), is used to measure these shocks, providing vital information for future experiment design and calibration.

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