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The Lead

Nuclear reactor reliability: Fast test proves viable

August 21, 2014 8:12 am | by Kate McAlpine, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

A speedy way to mimic the aging of materials inside nuclear reactors has matched all aspects of the damage sustained by a real reactor component for the first time. The method could help the U.S. and other countries stay ahead of potential problems in reactors that run for 40 years or more and also test materials for building advanced reactors.

A Safire in the Rough

August 19, 2014 3:51 pm | Award Winners

A multi-phase flow meter, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Safire...

Faster Aircraft Defect Analysis

August 19, 2014 10:42 am | Award Winners

In an effort to address the apparent shortcomings in modern inspection technology, Los...

Scientists uncover combustion mechanism to better predict warming by wildfires

August 5, 2014 11:02 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have uncovered key attributes of so-called “brown carbon” from wildfires, airborne...

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“SuperCam” instrument adds capabilities to successful ChemCam

August 4, 2014 12:32 pm | News | Comments

Laser technology originally developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory for the Mars Science Laboratory has been selected for NASA’s new Mars mission in 2020. The Curiosity rover is equipped with ChemCam, which allows researchers to sample rocks and other targets from a distance using a laser. The new “SuperCam” will offer this capability along with another spectrum for Raman and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy.

Nanoengineering boosts carrier multiplication in quantum dots

June 19, 2014 8:51 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Los Alamos National Laboratory 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.

Taking pictures with protons

June 18, 2014 8:27 am | by Kevin Roark, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

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. Protons, like neutrons, are the building blocks of atomic nuclei. Similar to x-rays, they can be used to radiograph objects, generating images of them. Protons are able to penetrate hot dense matter that can't be examined with light or x-rays.

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Shiny quantum dots brighten future of solar cells

April 14, 2014 10:42 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

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 in collaboration with scientists from Univ. of Milano-Bicocca, Italy. Their project demonstrates that superior light-emitting properties of quantum dots can be applied in solar energy by helping more efficiently harvest sunlight.

Flipping the switch on magnetism in strontium titanate

March 31, 2014 8:09 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

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, a nominally nonmagnetic wide-bandgap semiconductor, and researchers have found a way to magnetize this material using light, an effect that persists for hours at a time.

Desktop human “body” could reduce need for animal drug tests

March 26, 2014 1:13 pm | News | Comments

Call it “homo minutus”. A team at Los Alamos National Laboratory is developing four human organ constructs (liver, heart, lung and kidney) that will work together to serve as a drug and toxicity analysis system that can mimic the actual response of human organs. Called ATHENA, for Advanced Tissue-engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer, the system will fit neatly on a desk.

Recent advances mean wider use of flexible metallic glass is coming

March 4, 2014 10:35 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are working toward even stronger and more elastic glass types which would fail in a ductile fashion instead of shattering. Researchers there are looking at the initiation of shear-banding events in order to better understand how to control the mechanical properties of these materials.

Scientists find more precise way to measure neutron lifetime

February 5, 2014 12:32 pm | News | Comments

A team NIST scientists, with collaborators elsewhere, has achieved a five-fold reduction in the dominant uncertainty in an experiment that measured the mean lifetime of the free neutron, resulting in a substantial improvement of previous results. However, the accomplishment reveals a puzzling discrepancy when compared to different method, and researchers are planning to re-run the experiment in upgraded form.

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Sandia conducts first impact test in years of B61 nonnuclear components

January 15, 2014 3:59 pm | News | Comments

A ground-penetrating bomb, minus its nuclear components, rammed through a target at the remote Coyote Canyon test range last month in Sandia National Laboratories’ first such rocket-driven impact test in seven years. Engineers said the Sandia components on the weapon performed as expected.

Nontoxic quantum dot research improves solar cells

December 11, 2013 7:50 am | News | Comments

Solar cells made with low-cost, nontoxic quantum dots can achieve unprecedented longevity and efficiency, according to a study by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sharp Corp. The reported solar cells are based on nontoxic quantum dots. These dots are based on copper indium selenide sulfide and are rigorously optimized to reduce charge-carrier losses from surface defects and to provide the most complete coverage of the solar spectrum.

Martian laser surpasses 100,000 zaps

December 5, 2013 3:26 pm | News | Comments

The ChemCam laser instrument aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover fired its 100,000th shot recently, chronicling its adventures on Mars with a coffee-table-book’s worth of spectral data that might rival snapshots gathered during a long and satisfying family vacation here on Earth. ChemCam zaps rocks with a high-powered laser to determine their composition and carries a camera that can survey the Martian landscape.

Advance in bottle scanning could enhance airport security

November 26, 2013 8:24 am | News | Comments

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have advanced a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology that may provide a breakthrough for screening liquids at airport security. They’ve added low-power x-ray data to the mix, and as a result have unlocked a new detection technology.

HIV virus spread, evolution studied through computer modeling

November 19, 2013 1:40 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory are investigating the complex relationships between the spread of the HIV virus in a population (epidemiology) and the actual, rapid evolution of the virus (phylogenetics) within each patient’s body. The team models the uninfected population using traditional differential equations on the computer; this is done for computational speed, because an agent-based component is much more demanding.

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Technologies to characterize natural gas emissions tested in field experiments

October 29, 2013 8:08 am | News | Comments

A new collaborative science program is pioneering the development of ultra-sensitive methane-sensing technology. Methane, the principal component of natural gas, is one of many gases whose presence in the atmosphere contributes to global climate change. It is a goal of industry and scientists alike to better constrain the source flux of fugitive methane emissions from man-made activities.

Nanoscale engineering boosts performance of quantum dot LEDs

October 25, 2013 11:09 am | News | Comments

Quantum dots are nano-sized semiconductor particles whose emission color can be tuned by simply changing their dimensions. New research at Los Alamos National Laboratory aims to improve quantum dot-based light-emitting diodes by using a new generation of engineered quantum dots tailored specifically to have reduced wasteful charge-carrier interactions that compete with the production of light.

Water for future Mars astronauts?

September 27, 2013 7:55 am | News | Comments

Within its first three months on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity Rover saw a surprising diversity of soils and sediments along a half-kilometer route that tell a complex story about the gradual desiccation of the Red Planet. Perhaps most notable among findings from the ChemCam team is that all of the dust and fine soil contains small amounts of water.

Report: Quality of science, engineering at National Security Labs is solid

September 11, 2013 11:38 am | News | Comments

The science and engineering capabilities that underpin the nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship and nonproliferation missions at the nation’s three national security laboratories are “healthy and vibrant,” says a new report from the National Research Council.  The committee that wrote the report found no problems with the quality of science and engineering that would prevent certification of the stockpile.

Miniapps Pick Up the Pace

August 29, 2013 1:17 pm | Award Winners

Computers process information quickly, but they perform sequentially. Because clock speeds have stalled, future performance gains come almost solely from running sets of instructions concurrently. This will force fundamental changes for all computer components, making co-design (collaborative, simultaneous development of all system components) essential. Developed by a team led by Sandia National Laboratories, Mantevo Suite 1.0 is a promising approach to co-design.

Rapid Scanning for Radiological Threats

August 29, 2013 11:57 am | Award Winners

The Earth’s upper atmosphere is under bombardment by cosmic radiation that produces showers of pions, which rapidly decay into a constant flux of muons (some 200 m2/sec) that shower objects on Earth. Since the muon angular trajectory changes as a function of the density and atomic weight of the material traversed, a unique “signature” for the substance can be developed. The ability to identify distinct material density enables the Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS), developed by Decision Sciences International Corp. and Los Alamos National Laboratory, to quickly detect unshielded to heavily shielded nuclear threats, as well as gamma rays, with near-zero false alarms.

Nuclear Energy in Space

August 28, 2013 9:51 am | Award Winners

Numerous space probes have taken advantage of radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) powered by plutonium. However, the end of the Cold War has brought about a shortage of plutonium. In collaboration with NASA Glenn Research Center and National Security Technologies, Los Alamos National Laboratory has developed an alternative type of nuclear reactor, one that uses plentiful uranium as its fuel source.

Compact, Lightweight X-ray Scans

August 28, 2013 8:10 am | Award Winners

X-ray scanners are, even after decades of development, bulky, heavy, expensive and not always reliable. Los Alamos National Laboratory, with the help of several industry experts in optics, has introduced an x-ray device, MiniMAX that overcomes these limitations.

3-D Earth model accurately pinpoints source of earthquakes, explosions

August 22, 2013 7:58 am | News | Comments

During the Cold War, U.S. and international monitoring agencies could spot nuclear tests and focused on measuring their sizes. Today, they’re looking around the globe to pinpoint much smaller explosives tests. Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory have partnered to develop a 3-D model of the Earth’s mantle and crust called SALSA3D, with the purpose to assist in locating explosions.

LANL announces Express Licensing program

August 6, 2013 9:41 am | News | Comments

With the launch of a new “Express Licensing” program, access to innovative technology invented at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has gotten easier. The new licensing alternative was announced by David Pesiri, Dir. of LANL’s Technology Transfer Div.

Van Allen probes pinpoint driver of speeding electrons

July 25, 2013 7:08 pm | News | Comments

After studying data from a pair of NASA probes roaming the harsh space environment within the Van Allen radiation belts, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory believe they have solved a lingering mystery about how electrons within Earth’s radiation belt can suddenly become energetic enough to kill orbiting satellites.

Los Alamos lab upgrades Powerwall Theater with visualization projection

July 25, 2013 11:53 am | News | Comments

The Powerwall Theater (PWT) at Los Alamos National Laboratory is an innovative facility that enables researchers to view the complex models and simulations they have created using some of the world’s fastest supercomputers. Recently, PWT was upgraded with 40 double-stacked Christie Mirage 3-D LED projectors that will provide seamless, integrated 3-D visualization.

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