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Simulations uncover obstacle to harnessing laser-driven fusion

March 27, 2013 7:50 am | News | Comments

A once-promising approach for using next-generation, ultra-intense lasers to help deliver commercially viable fusion energy has been brought into serious question by new experimental results and first-of-a-kind simulations of laser-plasma interaction. So-called fast ignition, this process involves a long-discussed possibility of using a hollow cone to help focus laser energy on the pellet core to induce fusion. Unfortunately, these cones appear to fail in that mission.

Computer simulations yields clues to cell interactions

March 22, 2013 2:20 pm | News | Comments

Cell interact with their surroundings using proteins called integrin, which reside in a cell’s outer plasma membrane. Despite their importance—good and bad—scientists don’t exactly know how integrins work. Scientists have yet to obtain the entire crystal structure of integrin within the plasma membrane, so a computer model of integrin that reveals its molecular dynamics has been developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers.

Computer models show how deep carbon could return to Earth's surface

March 21, 2013 9:17 am | News | Comments

Computer simulations of water under extreme pressure are helping geochemists understand how carbon might be recycled from hundreds of miles below the Earth's surface. Carbon compounds are the basis of life, provide most of our fuels and contribute to climate change. The cycling of carbon through the oceans, atmosphere, and shallow crust of the Earth has been intensively studied, but little is known about what happens to carbon deep in the Earth.

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Sequoia supercomputer sets simulation record

March 19, 2013 4:09 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have recently performed a record number of simulations using all 1,572,864 cores of Sequoia, the largest supercomputer in the world. The simulations are the largest particle-in-cell (PIC) code simulations by number of cores ever performed. PIC simulations are used extensively in plasma physics to model the motion of the charged particles

Mechdyne licenses CAVE2 from University of Illinois at Chicago

March 12, 2013 9:27 am | News | Comments

Mechdyne Corporation has recently announced that it has licensed the CAVE2 hybrid reality environment developed by the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at University of Illinois at Chicago. The licensing agreement was signed in January of 2013, and continues the strong working relationship that began in 1994 when Mechdyne licensed the EVL-designed original CAVE technology. 

An atlas of the human heart is drawn using statistics

February 26, 2013 10:17 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Pompeu Fabra University (Spain) have created a high resolution atlas of the heart with 3D images taken from 138 people. The study demonstrates that an average image of an organ along with its variations can be obtained for the purposes of comparing individual cases and differentiating healthy forms from pathologies.

Supercomputers journey to limits of spacetime

February 21, 2013 1:19 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have used the 3D simulation capabilities of the supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center to predict the formation of accretion disks and relativistic jets that warp and bend more than previously thought, shaped both by the extreme gravity of the black hole and by powerful magnetic forces generated by its spin. Their highly detailed models of the black hole environment contribute new knowledge to the field.

Future science: Using 3D worlds to visualize data

February 20, 2013 4:29 am | by CARLA K. JOHNSON - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Take a walk through a human brain? Fly over the surface of Mars? Computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago are pushing science fiction closer to reality with a wraparound virtual world where a researcher wearing 3D glasses can do all that and more. In the system, known as CAVE2, a 8-foot-high screen encircles the viewer 320 degrees. A panorama of images springs from 72 stereoscopic liquid crystal display panels, conveying a dizzying sense of being able to touch what's not really there.

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New initiative to improve lithium-ion batteries

February 12, 2013 10:23 am | News | Comments

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory team is working to improve lithium-ion battery performance, lifetime, and safety. Working with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the scientists are developing a new methodology for performing first-principles quantum molecular dynamics simulations at an unprecedented scale to understand key aspects of the chemistry and dynamics in lithium-ion batteries, particularly at interfaces.

New modeling approach transforms imaging technologies

February 5, 2013 12:09 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue University | News | Comments

Researchers are improving the performance of technologies ranging from medical computed tomography scanners to digital cameras using a system of models to extract specific information from huge collections of data and then reconstructing images like a jigsaw puzzle. The new approach is called model-based iterative reconstruction, or MBIR, and it is helping to greatly reduce the noise in data, providing great clarity at lower radiation intensities.

Winners of annual NSF visualization competition announced

February 1, 2013 12:03 pm | News | Comments

The National Science Foundation (NSF), along with the journal Science, this week announced the 53 winners and honorable mentions of the International Science & Technology Visualization Challenge, a contest jointly sponsored by NSF and the joournal Science. The winning entries highlight the often stunning capabilities of computer-aided visualization techniques.

Simulating more efficient solar cells

January 28, 2013 1:50 pm | News | Comments

Using an exotic form of silicon could substantially improve the efficiency of solar cells, according to computer simulations by researchers at the University of California, Davis and in Hungary.  Solar cells are based on the photoelectric effect: A photon, or particle of light, hits a silicon crystal and generates a negatively charged electron and a positively charged hole. Collecting those electron-hole pairs generates electric current. Conventional solar cells generate one electron-hole pair per incoming photon, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency of 33%. One exciting new route to improved efficiency is to generate more than one electron-hole pair per photon.

Researchers break million-core supercomputer barrier

January 28, 2013 10:18 am | by Andrew Myers, Stanford University | News | Comments

Stanford Engineering's Center for Turbulence Research has set a new record in computational science by successfully using a supercomputer with more than one million computing cores to solve a complex fluid dynamics problem—the prediction of noise generated by a supersonic jet engine.

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“Quadruple helix” DNA structure proven to exist in human cells

January 21, 2013 8:53 am | News | Comments

Marking the culmination of over 10 years of investigation by scientists to show—in vivo—that complex four-stranded structures exist in the human genome alongside Watson and Crick’s famous double helix, researchers in the U.K. have recently published a paper that goes on to show clear links between concentrations of four-stranded quadruplexes and the process of DNA replication, which is pivotal to cell division and production.

Study reveals extraordinary glass properties

January 7, 2013 7:41 am | News | Comments

Armed with a better understanding of how glasses age and evolve, researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison raise the possibility of designing a new class of materials at the molecular level via a vapor-deposition process.

How computers push on the molecules they simulate

January 3, 2013 10:15 am | News | Comments

Computer simulations are essential to test theories and explore what's inaccessible to direct experiment. Digital computers can't use exact, continuous equations of motion and have to slice time into chunks, so persistent errors are introduced in the form of "shadow work" that distorts the result. Scientists have learned to separate the physically realistic aspects of the simulation from the artifacts of the computer method.

Physicists take photonic topological insulators to the next level

December 26, 2012 8:13 am | News | Comments

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have designed a simulation that, for the first time, emulates key properties of electronic topological insulators. Their simulation is part of a rapidly moving scientific race to understand and exploit the potential of topological insulators, which are a state of matter that was only discovered in the past decade.

Toward a new model of the cell

December 17, 2012 9:58 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and colleagues have proposed a new method that creates an ontology, or a specification of all the major players in the cell and the relationships between them. This computational model of the cell is made from large networks of gene and protein interactions, and is created automatically from large datasets, helping researchers see potentially new biological components.

Study offers insight into converting wood to bio-oil

December 14, 2012 8:15 am | News | Comments

New research from North Carolina State University provides molecular-level insights into how cellulose breaks down in wood to create "bio-oils" which can be refined into any number of useful products. Using a supercomputer, the team calculated what's occurring at the molecular level when wood is rapidly heated to high temperature in the absence of oxygen, a decomposition process known as pyrolysis.

Virtual reality system is key to medical discovery

December 11, 2012 12:31 pm | News | Comments

Because of the limited image spatial-resolution of even today's best-quality laptop and desktop computers, researchers and physicians often can’t see phenomena that are too large, too small, too complex, or too distant. CAVE2, a next-generation, large-scale virtual environment, combines the benefits of scalable-resolution display walls with virtual-reality system to create a revealing and seamless 2D and 3D environment that is becoming increasingly important in scientific discovery.

Do we live in a computer simulation? Idea can be tested

December 11, 2012 8:20 am | by Vince Stricherz, UW | News | Comments

A decade ago, a British philosopher put forth the notion that the universe we live in might in fact be a computer simulation run by our descendants. While that seems far-fetched, perhaps even incomprehensible, a team of physicists at the University of Washington has come up with a potential test to see if the idea holds water.

A human-caused climate change signal emerges from the noise

November 30, 2012 7:40 am | News | Comments

By comparing simulations from 20 different computer models to satellite observations, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory climate scientists and colleagues from 16 other organizations have found that tropospheric and stratospheric temperature changes are clearly related to human activities.

Deciphering bacterial doomsday decisions

November 26, 2012 11:28 am | News | Comments

Like a homeowner prepping for a hurricane, the bacterium Bacillus subtilis uses a long checklist to prepare for survival in hard times. In a new study, scientists at Rice University and the University of Houston uncovered an elaborate mechanism that allows B. subtilis to begin preparing for survival, even as it delays the ultimate decision of whether to "hunker down" and withdraw into a hardened spore.

Modeling the breaking points of metallic glasses

November 26, 2012 7:44 am | News | Comments

Metallic glass alloys (or liquid metals) are three times stronger than the best industrial steel, but can be molded into complex shapes with the same ease as plastic. These materials are highly resistant to scratching, denting, shattering, and corrosion. Mathematical methods developed by a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists will help explain why liquid metals have wildly different breaking points.

Study reveals clues to cause of hydrogen embrittlement

November 19, 2012 1:39 pm | News | Comments

Since the phenomenon was discovered in 1875, hydrogen embrittlement has been a persistent problem for the design of structural materials. Despite decades of research, experts have yet to fully understand the physics underlying the problem and must still resort to a trial-and-error approach. Now, a team of researchers have shown that the answer may be rooted in how hydrogen modifies material behaviors at the nanoscale.

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