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  • richardmitnick 7:50 am on September 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,   

    From LLNL: “New energy record set for multilayer-coated mirrors” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    09/11/2014
    Anne M Stark, LLNL, (925) 422-9799, stark8@llnl.gov

    Multilayer-coated mirrors, if used as focusing optics in the soft gamma-ray photon energy range, can enable and advance a range of scientific and technological applications that would benefit from the large improvements in sensitivity and resolution that true imaging provides.

    In a paper published in a recent online edition of Optics Express, LLNL postdoc Nicolai Brejnholt and colleagues from LLNL, the Technical University of Denmark and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility demonstrate for the first time that very short-period multilayer coatings deposited on super-polished substrates operate efficiently as reflective optics above 0.6 MeV, nearly a factor of two higher than the previous record at 384 keV, set last year by this same group (Physical Review Letters 101 027404, 2013).

    three
    Regina Soufli, Marie-Anne Descalle, postdoc Nicolai Brejnholt (shown in photo) and LLNL colleagues and collaborators recently demonstrated that very short-period multilayer coatings deposited on super-polished substrates operate efficiently as reflective optics.

    Multilayer mirrors can be used for two broad classes of applications. First, they can be used in spectroscopy, to enhance or suppress certain photon. energies. The team is looking into how to use multilayers to examine spent nuclear fuel for non-proliferation missions.

    Second, multilayer mirrors can be used as focusing, imaging optics by applying multilayer coatings to curved substrates. “We have previously made hard X-ray optics for nuclear medicine and astrophysics applications, and we can now consider adapting the same fabrication techniques to work in the soft gamma-ray band,” said Michael Pivovaroff, LLNL co-author.

    The field of astrophysics would benefit the most from gamma-ray focusing optics, including the sub-disciplines of galactic and extragalactic astronomy, solar astronomy, cosmic-ray research and potentially observational cosmology. Gamma-ray optics also have shown promise for nuclear medicine and nuclear non-proliferation applications.

    “We have demonstrated the capability to make highly reflective multilayer thin films with ultra-short period thickness (1-2 nanometers) and stable, ultra-smooth interfaces between the layers, as needed for operation at these extremely high photon energies. We chose tungsten carbide/silicon carbide (WC/SiC) multilayers for this purpose,” said Regina Soufli, another LLNL co-author.

    “The measurements at 0.65 MeV showed we had to understand sub-nanometer variations across the 36-square-inch mirror to model the measured performance,” Brejnholt said.

    The team demonstrated that multilayer mirrors in the gamma-ray band operate efficiently and according to well-understood models. The team combined classical, wave interference models with a Monte-Carlo particle simulation code. The latter was used to account for incoherent scattering, a phenomenon that is negligible at lower photon energies but becomes significant in the soft gamma ray range. Incoherent scattering was observed and modeled on multilayer structures for the first time by the LLNL team.

    Other Livermore co-authors include Marie-Anne Descalle, principal investigator of the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) project that funded this effort, Mónica Fernández-Perea, Jennifer Alameda, Tom McCarville and Sherry Baker.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 3:41 pm on August 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ELI-Beamlines, , Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,   

    From Livermore Lab: “LLNL synchs up with ELI Beamlines on timing system” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    08/27/2014
    Breanna Bishop, LLNL, (925) 423-9802, bishop33@llnl.gov

    In 2013, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), through Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC (LLNS), was awarded more than $45 million to develop and deliver a state-of-the-art laser system for the European Union’s Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines facility (ELI-Beamlines), under construction in the Czech Republic.

    two
    Thomas Manzec and Marc-Andre Drouin, from ELI Beamlines, work on synchronizing the HAPLS and ELI timing systems. Photo by Jim Pryatel.

    eli
    The ELI Beamlines facility is being built on a brownfield site with sufficient infrastructure. According to the current zoning plan, the area can be used for public amenities, science and research. It is therefore a place that provides enough space both for the laser center, as well as for any other building of similar use (technology park buildings, spin-off companies or other research facilities).

    When commissioned to its full design performance, the laser system, called the “High repetition-rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System” (HAPLS), will be the world’s highest average power petawatt laser system.

    HAPLS
    HAPLS

    Nearly a year into the project, much progress has been made, and all contract milestones to date have been delivered on schedule. Under the same agreement, ELI Beamlines delivers various work packages to LLNL enabling HAPLS control and timing systems to interface with the overarching ELI Beamlines facility control system. In a collaborative effort, researchers and engineers from LLNL’s NIF & Photon Science Directorate work with scientists from the ELI facility to develop, program and configure these systems.

    National Ignition Facility
    NIF at Livermore

    According to Constantin Haefner, LLNL’s project manager for HAPLS, this joint work is vital. “Working closely together on these collaborative efforts allows us to deliver a laser system most consistent with ELI Beamlines facility requirements. It also allows the ELI-Beamlines team to gain early insight into the laser system architecture and gain operational experience,” he said.

    This summer, that process began. Marc-Andre Drouin and Karel Kasl, control system programmers for ELI, spent three months at LLNL working with the HAPLS integrated control system team. During their time at LLNL, they focused almost exclusively on the ELI-HAPLS timing interface, which allows exact synchronization of HAPLS to the ELI Beamlines master clock.

    “The HAPLS timing system must be able to operate independent of the ELI timing system,” Drouin said. “But, it also needs to be capable of being perfectly synchronized to ELI. That bridge between timing systems is what we have been working on – making sure HAPLS runs very well independently as well as integrating with ELI.”

    Haefner pointed out that while HAPLS is a major component, it becomes a subsystem when it moves to the ELI facility. Once at ELI, HAPLS will integrate with the wider user facility, consisting of target systems, experimental systems, diagnostic systems – all of which have to be timed and fed from a master clock.

    Kasl likened the master clock to a universal clock used by an office. “We brought the clock here, and now everyone in the office is using the clock to synchronize their work,” he said.

    The master clock, built by ELI, was programmed as a bridge between the ELI and HAPLS timing systems. During their time at LLNL, Drouin and Kasl worked on configuring that hardware and writing the software that talks to the clock and to the subcomponents that control a very precise sequence of events.

    Last week, the ELI team finished their three-month stint at LLNL, but will be back in early fall to continue work – and they’re looking forward to it.

    “This unit is going to get integrated with our other systems, so there needs to be an overlap between the two teams,” Kasl said.

    “It’s good experience for us to learn about the internal workings of the HAPLS system,” Drouin added. “Having this inside knowledge of the most integral parts of the laser is a very big advantage for us in the long run.”

    Earlier this year, Jack Naylon and Tomas Mazanec, also from ELI, visited LLNL to contribute to the work.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 8:41 am on August 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Livermore Lab: “Livermore researchers create engineered energy absorbing material” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    08/20/2014
    James A Bono, LLNL, (925) 422-9919, bono4@llnl.gov

    Livermore researchers create engineered energy absorbing material

    Materials like solid gels and porous foams are used for padding and cushioning, but each has its own advantages and limitations. Gels are effective as padding but are relatively heavy; gel performance can also be affected by temperature, and possesses a limited range of compression due to a lack of porosity. Foams are lighter and more compressible, but their performance is not consistent due to the inability to accurately control the size, shape and placement of the voids (or air pockets) during the foam manufacturing process.

    To overcome these limitations, a team of engineers and scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has found a way to design and fabricate, at the microscale, new cushioning materials with a broad range of programmable properties and behaviors that exceed the limitations of the material’s composition, through additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing.

    The research is the subject of a paper published in Advanced Functional Materials.

    Livermore researchers, led by engineer Eric Duoss and scientist Tom Wilson, focused on creating a micro-architected cushion using a silicone-based ink that cures to form a rubber-like material after printing. During the printing process, the ink is deposited as a series of horizontally aligned filaments (which can be fine as a human hair) in a single layer. The second layer of filaments is then placed in the vertical direction. This process repeats itself until the desired height and pore structure is reached.

    LLNL researchers constructed cushions using two different configurations, one in an inline stacked configuration and the other in a staggered configuration (see figure). While both architectures were created out of the same constituent material and have the same degree of porosity, they each exhibited markedly different responses under compression and shear. The stacked architecture is stiffer in compression and, with increased compression, undergoes a buckling instability. The staggered architecture is softer in compression and undergoes more of a bending type of deformation. The stacked structure has solid columns of material beneath it to offer more support, while the staggered structure has voids under each filament that offer much less resistance to compression.

    scale
    A silicone cushion with programmable mechanical energy absorption properties was produced through a 3D printing process using a silicone-based ink by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers.

    With the help of LLNL engineer Todd Weisgraber, the team was able to model and predict the performance of each of the architectures under both compression and shear. This feat would be difficult or impossible to replicate with foams due to their random structure.

    “The ability to dial in a predetermined set of behaviors across a material at this resolution is unique, and it offers industry a level of customization that has not been seen before”, said Eric Duoss, research engineer and lead author.

    The researchers envision using their novel energy absorbing materials in many applications, including shoe and helmet inserts, protective materials for sensitive instrumentation and in aerospace applications to combat the effects of temperature fluctuations and vibration.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 10:00 pm on August 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Livermore Lab: “New project is the ACME of addressing climate change” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    08/19/2014
    Anne M Stark, LLNL, (925) 422-9799, stark8@llnl.gov

    High performance computing (HPC) will be used to develop and apply the most complete climate and Earth system model to address the most challenging and demanding climate change issues.

    Eight national laboratories, including Lawrence Livermore, are combining forces with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, four academic institutions and one private-sector company in the new effort. Other participating national laboratories include Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest and Sandia.

    The project, called Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy, or ACME, is designed to accelerate the development and application of fully coupled, state-of-the-science Earth system models for scientific and energy applications. The plan is to exploit advanced software and new high performance computing machines as they become available.

    book

    The initial focus will be on three climate change science drivers and corresponding questions to be answered during the project’s initial phase:

    Water Cycle: How do the hydrological cycle and water resources interact with the climate system on local to global scales? How will more realistic portrayals of features important to the water cycle (resolution, clouds, aerosols, snowpack, river routing, land use) affect river flow and associated freshwater supplies at the watershed scale?
    Biogeochemistry: How do biogeochemical cycles interact with global climate change? How do carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles regulate climate system feedbacks, and how sensitive are these feedbacks to model structural uncertainty?
    Cryosphere Systems: How do rapid changes in cryospheric systems, or areas of the earth where water exists as ice or snow, interact with the climate system? Could a dynamical instability in the Antarctic Ice Sheet be triggered within the next 40 years?

    Over a planned 10-year span, the project aim is to conduct simulations and modeling on the most sophisticated HPC machines as they become available, i.e., 100-plus petaflop machines and eventually exascale supercomputers. The team initially will use U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Leadership Computing Facilities at Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories.

    “The grand challenge simulations are not yet possible with current model and computing capabilities,” said David Bader, LLNL atmospheric scientist and chair of the ACME council. “But we developed a set of achievable experiments that make major advances toward answering the grand challenge questions using a modeling system, which we can construct to run on leading computing architectures over the next three years.”
    To address the water cycle, the project plan (link below) hypothesized that: 1) changes in river flow over the last 40 years have been dominated primarily by land management, water management and climate change associated with aerosol forcing; 2) during the next 40 years, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a business as usual scenario may drive changes to river flow.

    “A goal of ACME is to simulate the changes in the hydrological cycle, with a specific focus on precipitation and surface water in orographically complex regions such as the western United States and the headwaters of the Amazon,” the report states.

    To address biogeochemistry, ACME researchers will examine how more complete treatments of nutrient cycles affect carbon-climate system feedbacks, with a focus on tropical systems, and investigate the influence of alternative model structures for below-ground reaction networks on global-scale biogeochemistry-climate feedbacks.

    For cryosphere, the team will examine the near-term risks of initiating the dynamic instability and onset of the collapse of the Antarctic Ice Sheet due to rapid melting by warming waters adjacent to the ice sheet grounding lines.

    The experiment would be the first fully-coupled global simulation to include dynamic ice shelf-ocean interactions for addressing the potential instability associated with grounding line dynamics in marine ice sheets around Antarctica.

    Other LLNL researchers involved in the program leadership are atmospheric scientist Peter Caldwell (co-leader of the atmospheric model and coupled model task teams) and computer scientists Dean Williams (council member and workflow task team leader) and Renata McCoy (project engineer).

    Initial funding for the effort has been provided by DOE’s Office of Science.

    More information can be found in the Accelerated Climate Modeling For Energy: Project Strategy and Initial Implementation Plan.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 3:51 pm on August 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Livermore Lab: “It’s nanotubular: New material could be used for energy storage and conversion” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    08/13/2014
    Anne M Stark

    Lawrence Livermore researchers have made a material that is 10 times stronger and stiffer than traditional aerogels of the same density.

    This ultralow-density, ultrahigh surface area bulk material with an interconnected nanotubular makeup could be used in catalysis, energy storage and conversion, thermal insulation, shock energy absorption and high energy density physics.

    Ultralow-density porous bulk materials have recently attracted renewed interest due to many promising applications.

    Unlocking the full potential of these materials, however, requires realization of mechanically robust architectures with deterministic control over form, cell size, density and composition, which is difficult to achieve by traditional chemical synthesis methods, according to LLNL’s Monika Biener, lead author of a paper appearing on the cover of the July 23 issue of Advanced Materials.

    mag
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have made a material that is 10 times stronger and stiffer than traditional aerogels of the same density, which is detailed in a featured story appearing on the cover of Advanced Materials.

    Biener and colleagues report on the synthesis of ultralow-density, ultrahigh surface area bulk materials with interconnected nanotubular morphology. The team achieved control over density (5 to 400 mg/cm3), pore size (30 um to 4 um) and composition by atomic layer deposition (ALD) using nanoporous gold as a tunable template.

    “The materials are thermally stable and, by virtue of their narrow unimodal pore size distributions and their thin-walled, interconnected tubular architecture, about 10 times stronger and stiffer than traditional aerogels of the same density,” Biener said.

    The three-dimensional nanotubular network architecture developed by the team opens new opportunities in the fields of energy harvesting, catalysis, sensing and filtration by enabling mass transport through two independent pore systems separated by a nanometer-thick 3D membrane.

    Other Livermore authors include Jianchao Ye, Theodore Baumann, Y. Morris Wang, Swanee Shin, Juergen Biener and Alex Hamza.

    The paper titled Ultra-Strong and Low-Density Nanotubular Bulk Materials with Tunable Feature Size” can be found on the Web.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 8:45 am on August 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,   

    From CNBC: “Inside Lawrence Livermore and the arms race for innovation” 

    CNBC logo

    7/31/14
    Heesun Wee. Additional reporting by Brad Quick.

    Consider a supercomputer so fast and powerful that it generates simulated models to better understand everything from irregular human heartbeats to earthquakes. Picture tiny brain implants that can restore sight and possibly memory. Or what about the world’s largest laser, with powerful beams, zooming rocket-like across three football fields—research that could lead to future sources of clean energy?

    sequoia
    Sequoia at Livermore

    This is the world inside the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a national security lab 50 miles east of San Francisco.

    Livermore Lab Campus
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory campus

    man
    Jeff Wisoff in front of the world’s largest laser at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Heesun Wee | CNBC

    National labs have been around for decades and are commonly associated with nuclear weapons testing. But inside Livermore’s mile-square campus, some 6,000 employees hover over hundreds of projects that span multiple industries, including oil and gas, health care and transportation.

    Livermore, like other labs, often collaborates with private companies to create solutions such as more fuel-efficient, long-haul trucks, and more resilient airplane components. The lab secured $1.5 billion in funding from multiple sources last year—the majority from the government.

    But in recent years, companies have been ponying up more money. Private industry contributed about $40 million for research at Livermore in 2013. “That will continue to go up,” said Richard Rankin, director of the lab’s industrial partnerships office.

    Labs also are emphasizing they’re open to collaboration. And part of the courtship can be explained by the growing complexity of modern problems. Think cyber and chemical warfare, or securing future energy supplies as climate change barrels down, or treating and managing more American soldiers, returning injured without limbs.

    Just as major energy companies have worked together to drill ever deeper for offshore oil, leading government-funded labs and companies are realizing they can’t go it alone.

    As the world becomes a scarier place, competition also is growing for brain power to solve the most pressing problems. In Silicon Valley, for example, a top science degree means options—research labs of your choosing, maybe an Apple gig, maybe a founding role at a start-up.

    But globally, there’s also demand for talent and big ideas—an innovation arms race, if you will.

    Lawrence Livermore has the world’s third-fastest supercomputer with the help of IBM. But China now holds the number one slot. And while the Livermore Lab has the world’s largest laser, France, China and Russia are pursuing super lasers of their own.

    Don’t laugh at this “mine is bigger, better, faster” game. Initial breakthroughs in science and technology can lead to patent-related revenues, of course. But first-mover advantages can also help secure medicine such as a cancer treatment or an Ebola vaccine. And there are national security consequences to such information. Just recall the 2011 film “Contagion” and the loss of social order, as a coveted vaccine is administered. You can see how this stuff might play out.

    This push to innovate or embrace the “art of the possible,” as one scientist put it, is why websites track the supercomputer race, which China is winning at the moment. “We should be concerned about that,” said Frederick Streitz, director of the lab’s High Performance Computing Innovation Center.

    Added Streitz: “Ideas are power.”

    inside
    Instruments are viewed inside the target chamber at Lawrence Livermore lab’s National Ignition Facility.

    Livermore was founded in 1952, during the height of the Cold War, to tackle national security challenges through science, engineering and technology.

    It was a formal naval base, and squat barracks remain on the property. Pilots in training were dunked into a swimming pool.

    The lab feels like a college campus or tech company. Cyclists take a break from research, likely pedaling past one of the many wineries in the Tri-Valley.

    Beyond the region, Livermore is among other leading national labs including Los Alamos in New Mexico and Oak Ridge in Tennessee.

    The groundwork for the government and private company collaboration was laid by passage of the Federal Technology Transfer Act in 1986. In industry circles, it’s widely referred to as “tech transfer.” And the shift is only intensifying.

    National labs have been around for decades and are commonly associated with nuclear weapons testing. But inside Livermore’s mile-square campus, some 6,000 employees hover over hundreds of projects that span multiple industries, including oil and gas, health care and transportation.

    Livermore, like other labs, often collaborates with private companies to create solutions such as more fuel-efficient, long-haul trucks, and more resilient airplane components. The lab secured $1.5 billion in funding from multiple sources last year—the majority from the government.

    But in recent years, companies have been ponying up more money. Private industry contributed about $40 million for research at Livermore in 2013. “That will continue to go up,” said Richard Rankin, director of the lab’s industrial partnerships office.

    Labs also are emphasizing they’re open to collaboration. And part of the courtship can be explained by the growing complexity of modern problems. Think cyber and chemical warfare, or securing future energy supplies as climate change barrels down, or treating and managing more American soldiers, returning injured without limbs.

    Just as major energy companies have worked together to drill ever deeper for offshore oil, leading government-funded labs and companies are realizing they can’t go it alone.

    As the world becomes a scarier place, competition also is growing for brain power to solve the most pressing problems. In Silicon Valley, for example, a top science degree means options—research labs of your choosing, maybe an Apple gig, maybe a founding role at a start-up.

    But globally, there’s also demand for talent and big ideas—an innovation arms race, if you will.

    Lawrence Livermore has the world’s third-fastest supercomputer with the help of IBM. But China now holds the number one slot. And while the Livermore Lab has the world’s largest laser, France, China and Russia are pursuing super lasers of their own.

    Don’t laugh at this “mine is bigger, better, faster” game. Initial breakthroughs in science and technology can lead to patent-related revenues, of course. But first-mover advantages can also help secure medicine such as a cancer treatment or an Ebola vaccine. And there are national security consequences to such information. Just recall the 2011 film “Contagion” and the loss of social order, as a coveted vaccine is administered. You can see how this stuff might play out.

    Read MoreWhy are American pigs dying?

    This push to innovate or embrace the “art of the possible,” as one scientist put it, is why websites track the supercomputer race, which China is winning at the moment. “We should be concerned about that,” said Frederick Streitz, director of the lab’s High Performance Computing Innovation Center.

    Added Streitz: “Ideas are power.”
    Inside the lab
    Instruments are viewed inside the target chamber at Lawrence Livermore lab’s National Ignition Facility.
    Tony Avelar | Bloomberg | Getty Images
    Instruments are viewed inside the target chamber at Lawrence Livermore lab’s National Ignition Facility.

    Livermore was founded in 1952, during the height of the Cold War, to tackle national security challenges through science, engineering and technology.

    It was a formal naval base, and squat barracks remain on the property. Pilots in training were dunked into a swimming pool.

    The lab feels like a college campus or tech company. Cyclists take a break from research, likely pedaling past one of the many wineries in the Tri-Valley.

    Beyond the region, Livermore is among other leading national labs including Los Alamos in New Mexico and Oak Ridge in Tennessee.

    The groundwork for the government and private company collaboration was laid by passage of the Federal Technology Transfer Act in 1986. In industry circles, it’s widely referred to as “tech transfer.” And the shift is only intensifying,

    Government-funded U.S. science labs receive about $140 billion annually in taxpayer money. But even the most gee-whiz research is just that: research. Every federal dollar spent creating early-stage inventions in the lab requires $10 of private sector-funded development to generate a useful product.

    Plus, there’s no guaranteed return. Nailing a commercial solution or patent, after months or years of research, can be akin to winning the lottery. The stakes, meanwhile, for successful research only are getting higher.

    Beyond the growing intricacy of scientific problems, there’s a public perception that taxpayer-funded research should yield concrete results. This expectation emerged during the 1980s recession and has intensified in recent years, said Joe Allen, who helped create and pass the technology transfer legislation.

    “Virtually every government is saying that publicly funded research needs to be made into a practical benefit for its taxpayers,” said Allen, now president of Allen & Associates, based in Bethesda, Ohio. The firm specializes in managing public-private partnerships.

    Added Allen: “When taxpayers fund cutting-edge research, they expect more than a white paper. They want to see a product like a new treatment for disease.”

    The lab collaborates with big tech companies like Intel and Hewlett-Packard to smaller start-ups. And successful public-private relationships naturally require work.

    But culture among companies and government-funded labs can vary. Joint efforts mean altering workflows. “It’s hard to change behavior,” Livermore’s Streitz said.

    two
    Scientists are creating tiny implantable devices, capable of restoring sight and possibly memory. Heesun Wee | CNBC

    But challenges and high-risk can yield potentially big rewards.

    Lab work includes brain-focused research to treat soldiers and other patients for illnesses and injuries such as traumatic brain injury.

    Development of a neural device and bionic eye, or retinal prosthesis, largely have been government funded. The retinal implant received more than $75 million over 10 years. The project was conducted under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with private sector company Second Sight in Sylmar, California, and included researchers from several national laboratories.

    Several neural prosthesis projects have received some $8.1 million in federal funding.

    ‘Grand challenges’

    Also housed at Livermore is the National Ignition Facility or NIF—the world’s largest laser. It was built for $3.5 billion, and costs around $330 million annually to operate, including related programs.

    Livermore NIF
    NIF at Livermore

    The facility has many roles, ranging from national security to advancing energy security.

    NIF scientists support nuclear weapons maintenance without underground testing—which has been abandoned. Researchers can instead duplicate the phenomena that occurs inside a nuclear device to manage weapons stockpiles.

    Experiments at NIF also are laying the groundwork to generate clean energy. The idea is to use lasers to ignite fusion fuel.

    If all that doesn’t grab you, NIF was used as the set for the “warp core” scene in the 2013 film, “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

    “The government can pursue grand challenges that are difficult for private companies to do,” said Jeff Wisoff, NIF’s principal associate director.

    See the full article here.


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  • richardmitnick 4:28 pm on July 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Livermore lab: “Peering into giant planets from in and out of this world “ 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    07/17/2014
    Anne M Stark, LLNL, (925) 422-9799, stark8@llnl.gov

    Lawrence Livermore scientists for the first time have experimentally re-created the conditions that exist deep inside giant planets, such as Jupiter, Uranus and many of the planets recently discovered outside our solar system.

    point
    The interior of the target chamber at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The object entering from the left is the target positioner, on which a millimeter-scale target is mounted. Researchers recently used NIF to study the interior state of giant planets. Image by Damien Jemison/LLNL

    Researchers can now re-create and accurately measure material properties that control how these planets evolve over time, information essential for understanding how these massive objects form. This study focused on carbon, the fourth most abundant element in the cosmos (after hydrogen, helium and oxygen), which has an important role in many types of planets within and outside our solar system. The research appears in the July 17 edition of the journal, Nature.

    Using the largest laser in the world, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, teams from the Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley and Princeton University squeezed samples to 50 million times Earth’s atmospheric pressure, which is comparable to the pressures at the center of Jupiter and Saturn. Of the 192 lasers at NIF, the team used 176 with exquisitely shaped energy versus time to produce a pressure wave that compressed the material for a short period of time. The sample — diamond — is vaporized in less than 10 billionths of a second.

    Though diamond is the least compressible material known, the researchers were able to compress it to an unprecedented density greater than lead at ambient conditions.

    “The experimental techniques developed here provide a new capability to experimentally reproduce pressure-temperature conditions deep in planetary interiors,” said Ray Smith, LLNL physicist and lead author of the paper.

    Such pressures have been reached before, but only with shock waves that also create high temperatures — hundreds of thousands of degrees or more — that are not realistic for planetary interiors. The technical challenge was keeping temperatures low enough to be relevant to planets. The problem is similar to moving a plow slowly enough to push sand forward without building it up in height. This was accomplished by carefully tuning the rate at which the laser intensity changes with time.

    “This new ability to explore matter at atomic scale pressures, where extrapolations of earlier shock and static data become unreliable, provides new constraints for dense matter theories and planet evolution models,” said Rip Collins, another Lawrence Livermore physicist on the team.

    The data described in this work are among the first tests for predictions made in the early days of quantum mechanics, more than 80 years ago, which are routinely used to describe matter at the center of planets and stars. While agreement between these new data and theory are good, there are important differences discovered, suggesting potential hidden treasures in the properties of diamond compressed to such extremes. Future experiments on NIF are focused on further unlocking these mysteries.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 8:45 am on July 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human brain, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,   

    From Livermore Lab: “DARPA selects Lawrence Livermore to develop world’s first neural device to restore memory” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    07/08/2014
    Kenneth K Ma, LLNL, (925) 423-7602, ma28@llnl.gov

    The Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) up to $2.5 million to develop an implantable neural device with the ability to record and stimulate neurons within the brain to help restore memory, DARPA officials announced this week.

    one
    Lawrence Livermore engineer Vanessa Tolosa holds up a silicon wafer containing micromachined implantable neural devices.

    brain
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) will develop an implantable neural device with the ability to record and stimulate neurons within the brain to help restore memory.

    The research builds on the understanding that memory is a process in which neurons in certain regions of the brain encode information, store it and retrieve it. Certain types of illnesses and injuries, including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy, disrupt this process and cause memory loss. TBI, in particular, has affected 270,000 military service members since 2000.

    two
    Lawrence Livermore engineers Angela Tooker and Vanessa Tolosa load silicon wafers into a metal deposition chamber during the development of neural devices.

    The goal of LLNL’s work — driven by LLNL’s Neural Technology group and undertaken in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Medtronic — is to develop a device that uses real-time recording and closed-loop stimulation of neural tissues to bridge gaps in the injured brain and restore individuals’ ability to form new memories and access previously formed ones.

    The research is funded by DARPA’s Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program.

    Specifically, the Neural Technology group will seek to develop a neuromodulation system — a sophisticated electronics system to modulate neurons — that will investigate areas of the brain associated with memory to understand how new memories are formed. The device will be developed at LLNL’s Center for Bioengineering.

    “Currently, there is no effective treatment for memory loss resulting from conditions like TBI,” said LLNL’s project leader Satinderpall Pannu, director of the LLNL’s Center for Bioengineering, a unique facility dedicated to fabricating biocompatible neural interfaces. “This is a tremendous opportunity from DARPA to leverage Lawrence Livermore’s advanced capabilities to develop cutting-edge medical devices that will change the health care landscape.”

    LLNL will develop a miniature, wireless and chronically implantable neural device that will incorporate both single neuron and local field potential recordings into a closed-loop system to implant into TBI patients’ brains. The device — implanted into the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus — will allow for stimulation and recording from 64 channels located on a pair of high-density electrode arrays. The entorhinal cortex and hippocampus are regions of the brain associated with memory.

    The arrays will connect to an implantable electronics package capable of wireless data and power telemetry. An external electronic system worn around the ear will store digital information associated with memory storage and retrieval and provide power telemetry to the implantable package using a custom RF-coil system.

    Designed to last throughout the duration of treatment, the device’s electrodes will be integrated with electronics using advanced LLNL integration and 3D packaging technologies. The microelectrodes that are the heart of this device are embedded in a biocompatible, flexible polymer.

    Using the Center for Bioengineering’s capabilities, Pannu and his team of engineers have achieved 25 patents and many publications during the last decade. The team’s goal is to build the new prototype device for clinical testing by 2017.

    Lawrence Livermore’s collaborators, UCLA and Medtronic, will focus on conducting clinical trials and fabricating parts and components, respectively.

    “The RAM program poses a formidable challenge reaching across multiple disciplines from basic brain research to medicine, computing and engineering,” said Itzhak Fried, lead investigator for the UCLA on this project and professor of neurosurgery and psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. “But at the end of the day, it is the suffering individual, whether an injured member of the armed forces or a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, who is at the center of our thoughts and efforts.”

    LLNL’s work on the Restoring Active Memory program supports President Obama’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative.

    “Our years of experience developing implantable microdevices, through projects funded by the Department of Energy (DOE), prepared us to respond to DARPA’s challenge,” said Lawrence Livermore Engineer Kedar Shah, a project leader in the Neural Technology group.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 1:34 pm on June 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,   

    From Livermore Lab: “Lawrence Livermore Lab awarded $5.6 million to develop next generation neural devices “ 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    06/11/2014
    Kenneth K Ma

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently received $5.6 million from the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop an implantable neural interface with the ability to record and stimulate neurons within the brain for treating neuropsychiatric disorders.

    The technology will help doctors to better understand and treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic pain and other conditions.

    Several years ago, researchers at Lawrence Livermore in conjunction with Second Sight Medical Products developed the world’s first neural interface (an artificial retina) that was successfully implanted into blind patients to help partially restore their vision. The new neural device is based on similar technology used to create the artificial retina.

    “DARPA is an organization that advances technology by leaps and bounds,” said LLNL’s project leader Satinderpall Pannu, director of the Lab’s Center for Micro- and Nanotechnology and Center for Bioengineering, a facility dedicated to fabricating biocompatible neural interfaces. “This DARPA program will allow us to develop a revolutionary device to help patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders and other neural conditions.”

    The project is part of DARPA’s SUBNETS (Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies) program. The agency is launching new programs to support President Obama’s BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative, a new research effort aimed to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and uncover ways to treat, prevent and cure brain disorders.

    LLNL and Medtronic are collaborating with UCSF, UC Berkeley, Cornell University, New York University, PositScience Inc. and Cortera Neurotechnologies on the DARPA SUBNETS project. Some collaborators will be developing the electronic components of the device, while others will be validating and characterizing it.

    brain
    This rendering shows the next generation neural device capable of recording and stimulating the human central nervous system being developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The implantable neural interface will record from and stimulate neurons within the brain for treating neuropsychiatric disorders.

    As part of its collaboration with LLNL, Medtronic will consult on the development of new technologies and provide its investigational Activa PC+S deep brain stimulation (DBS) system, which is the first to enable the sensing and recording of brain signals while simultaneously providing targeted DBS. This system has recently been made available to leading researchers for early-stage research and could lead to a better understanding of how various devastating neurological conditions develop and progress. The knowledge gained as part of this collaboration could lead to the next generation of advanced systems for treating neural disease.

    The LLNL Neural Technology group will develop an implantable neural device with hundreds of electrodes by leveraging their thin-film neural interface technology, a more than tenfold increase over current Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) devices. The electrodes will be integrated with electronics using advanced LLNL integration and 3D packaging technologies. The goal is to seal the electronic components in miniaturized, self-contained, wireless neural hardware. The microelectrodes that are the heart of this device are embedded in a biocompatible, flexible polymer.

    Surgically implanted into the brain, the neural device is designed to help researchers understand the underlying dynamics of neuropsychiatric disorders and re-train neural networks to unlearn these disorders and restore proper function. This will enable the device to be eventually removed from the patient instead of being dependent on it.

    Using the Center for Micro- and Nanotechnology’s unique capabilities, Pannu and his team of engineers have achieved 25 patents and many publications during the last decade. The team’s goal with the DARPA SUBNETS program is to build a prototype neural device in four years for clinical trials at UCSF.

    “We are very excited about this project,” Pannu said. “This is a great opportunity to develop therapies that have the potential to advance health care for our service members, veterans and the general public.”

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 3:38 pm on May 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory   

    From Livermore Lab: “Element 117 discovered by Lawrence Livermore one step closer to being named” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    05/01/2014
    Anne M Stark, LLNL, (925) 422-9799, stark8@llnl.go

    Element 117, first discovered by Lawrence Livermore scientists and international collaborators in 2010, is one step closer to being named.

    117

    The existence of element 117 and its decay chain to elements 115 and 113 have been confirmed by a second international team led by scientists at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, an accelerator laboratory located in Darmstadt, Germany. The research will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal, Physical Review Letters.

    The next step is for the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) to accept the confirmation. The IUPAC will review the new findings and the original research and decide whether further experiments are needed before acknowledging the element’s discovery. After acceptance, IUPAC would determine which institution may propose names.

    In the German experiments, scientists bombarded a berkelium target with calcium ions until they collided and formed element 117. Element 117 then decayed into elements 115 and 113. Livermore researchers Narek Gharibyan and Dawn Shaughnessy and former postdoc Evgeny Tereshatov participated in the German experiment.

    Lawrence Livermore teamed with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia (JINR) in 2004 to discover elements 113 and 115. The LLNL/JINR team then jointly worked with researchers from the Research Institute for Advanced Reactors (Dimitrovgrad), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to discover element 117 in 2010.

    Elements beyond atomic number 104 are referred to as superheavy elements. The most long-lived ones are expected to be situated on a so-called “island of stability,” where nuclei with extremely long half-lives should be found.

    Although superheavy elements have not been found in nature, they can be produced by accelerating beams of nuclei and shooting them at the heaviest possible target nuclei. Fusion of two nuclei — a very rare event — occasionally produces a superheavy element. They generally only exist for a short time.

    See the full article here.

    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security
    Administration
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