Tagged: Applied Research & Technology Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 8:28 am on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , ESA Sentinal-3A   

    From ESA: “Sentinel-3A Earth colour data released” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    20 October 2016

    Greenland changing ice

    Today, the Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite has taken another step towards being fully ‘operational’ as the first data from its Ocean and Land Colour Instrument are made available to monitor the health of our planet.


    Following its launch in February, the satellite and instruments have been thoroughly tested and fine-tuned – leading to this important milestone.

    Carrying a suite of instruments, Sentinel-3A is arguably the most complex of all the Copernicus Sentinels.

    Copernicus EU Earth Observation bloc

    It has been designed to measure Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere to monitor large-scale global dynamics and to provide critical near-realtime information for numerous ocean, land and weather applications.

    The Sentinel-3 validation team, a group of expert users, has been receiving sample products since May. Their feedback is essential to both ESA and Eumetsat to ensure the data are of the highest quality, as is needed for the myriad of operational applications that the mission will serve.

    At the ‘end of commissioning’ review in July, it was noted that a couple of points had to be addressed before the first data were officially released to the public.

    Susanne Mecklenburg, ESA’s Sentinel-3 mission manager, said, “It is imperative that these first-level data are the best quality possible so we are being extremely careful. It is now very gratifying to see data from the satellite’s Ocean and Land Colour Instrument being released to users worldwide.

    “Data from the other two instruments – the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer and Radar Altimeter – will be made available in November and December, respectively.”

    Offering new eyes on Earth, the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument will monitor the global oceans, and inland waters, including phytoplankton, water quality, harmful algal blooms, sediment transport in coastal areas, El Niño and La Niña events, and climate change.

    It will also support observations of vegetation and crop conditions, as well as provide estimates of atmospheric aerosol and clouds – all of which bring significant benefits to society through more informed decision-making.

    While the operations of the Sentinel-3A satellite are carried out by Eumetsat, the mission is managed jointly by ESA and Eumetsat.

    ESA is responsible for the land data products and Eumetsat for the marine products – all of which are made available for application through Copernicus services.

    Mediterranean view

    Hilary Wilson, Eumetsat’s Sentinel-3 project manager, said, “The release of Sentinel-3A’s first operational data is the culmination of a lot of hard work by ESA, Eumetsat and the expert user teams.

    “It represents an important milestone for the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service and also for the wider marine monitoring community.

    “Routine operations of the satellite have been proceeding smoothly since Eumetsat took over this responsibility in July and we are now focusing on bringing the remaining marine products to this community.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

  • richardmitnick 8:10 am on October 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , ,   

    From ESA: “Earth’s most active volcanoes on satellite watch” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    20 October 2016

    Mexico’s Colima volcano erupting on 11 October 2016. At the beginning of the month, as lava flowed down its slopes, villagers living at the foot of the mountain were evacuated.

    As hundreds flee lava and ash spewed from Mexico’s Colima volcano, its continuing eruption is being tracked not only by ground instruments but also from space. Starting last month, Colima is one of 22 active volcanoes worldwide being monitored by satellites.

    The latest observations by Europe’s Sentinels and the US Terra and Landsat satellites are being processed automatically for the rapid delivery of key parameters to geohazards researchers.

    ESA Sentinels (Copernicus)
    ESA Sentinels (Copernicus)

    Copernicus EU Earth Observation bloc

    NASA/Terra satellite
    NASA/Terra satellite

    NASA/Landsat 8
    NASA/Landsat 8

    “Within the geohazards arena, this kind of systematic service is really something new,” explains Fabrizio Pacini of Terradue, which operates the new service through ESA’s online, cloud-based Geohazards Exploitation Platform, or GEP.

    “Researchers already use Earth observation data, of course, but usually on an on-demand basis from a single sensor. We make use of a range of sensors to cover multiple sites on a continuing basis.”

    The service is based on automated processing chains developed by GEP research partners, running on the GEP itself, then made available through it.

    Massimo Musacchio, from Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), explains, “We are contributing a surface-temperature mapping service. Using mainly optical data from multiple satellites, it reveals thermal anomalies around volcanoes.”

    This image from the Landsat-8 satellite shows the Colima volcano in Mexico on 6 September 2016 before it started to erupt on 30 September.

    “Running our processing algorithm on the GEP saves valuable time – no manual browsing, downloading or processing is needed,” adds INGV’s Fabrizia Buongiorno. “Time series data can be speedily extracted from a single co-registered pixel, to highlight gradual trends within a narrow area.”

    The second, mainly post-eruption service is vegetation vigour maps, to assess the health of plant life and agriculture around volcanoes. Developed by Noveltis (France), this service relies on the processing of optical images, including Sentinel-2 data.

    The third is high-resolution change monitoring, developed by the DLR German Aerospace Center, based on 50 m-resolution time-series radar imagery from Sentinel-1.

    “Radar images can be acquired at night and in cloudy conditions, offering a significant advantage for volcano monitoring,” says Virginie Pinel of France’s IRD Research Institute for Development.

    “Variations between images can be used to map eruptive deposits such as lava and explosive deposits, without anyone needing to access the affected area. Knowing the extent of eruptive deposits is crucial for assessing a volcanic event and any follow-on landslide risk.”

    Out of around 1500 potentially active land volcanoes, the 22 targets were selected through a combination of recent activity and scientific interest. They include some volcanoes that already have plentiful ground monitoring infrastructure – including Italy’s Vesuvius, designated a permanent Geohazards Supersite National Laboratory by the international Group on Earth Observations – as well as others in Latin America and Southeast Asia, sometimes with less ground data availability.

    These trial services were set up in response to a 2015 ESA workshop on Satellite Earth Observation and Disaster Risk Reduction. More than 500 million people worldwide are estimated to live within the potential exposure range of a volcano.

    The GEP is one of six Thematic Exploitation Platforms developed by ESA to serve data user communities. As a new element of the ground segment delivering satellite results to users, these cloud-based platforms provide an online environment to access information, processing tools, computing resources and tools for community collaboration. The aim is to enable the easy extraction of valuable knowledge from vast quantities of environmental data now being produced by Europe’s Copernicus programme and other Earth observation satellites.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

  • richardmitnick 10:23 am on October 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, Future Internet Architecture, MobilityFirst project,   

    From Rutgers: “Designing the Future Internet” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    October 20, 2016
    Todd B. Bates

    The Internet of Things includes smart objects like fitness monitors, smart watches, smartphones and home thermostats. Photo: Shutterstock/monicaodo

    This century, our world will be flooded with hundreds of billions of smartphones, gadgets, sensors and other smart objects connected to the internet.

    They will perform myriad services, such as monitoring our health, helping run households and boosting driver safety. At Rutgers, Dipankar “Ray” Raychaudhuri is at the forefront of efforts to redesign the internet to handle the enormous increase in traffic.

    “The traffic that comes from mobile devices into the internet has been increasing exponentially. It used to be 10 percent five years ago – now it’s over 50 percent,” said Raychaudhuri, a distinguished professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the School of Engineering and director of the WINLAB (Wireless Information Network Lab).

    “As a result, mobile wireless capacity is beginning to run out,” he said. “That’s why cellular operators have to give you data limits. When you try to use a mobile phone and you’re downloading a web page, it stalls unexpectedly at times and you have to wait for the signal to improve. Also, there are all kinds of holes in the security system that need to be fixed.”

    In 2010, the National Science Foundation (NSF) launched a Future Internet Architecture initiative and invited academics to take a fresh look at the internet. Raychaudhuri and colleagues proposed a “MobilityFirst” project aimed at reimagining the Internet, winning major NSF funding.

    The MobilityFirst project, now in its sixth year, includes experts at Rutgers, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The NSF provided $3.275 million to Rutgers from 2010 to 2014 and $2.9 million since 2014, said Raychaudhuri, the project’s principal investigator.

    “The internet has a lot of duct tape on it,” he said. “It works very well, but it has some limitations, especially when you try to do more mobile communications. How to re-architect the internet is a very ambitious goal.”

    The MobilityFirst project is centered on shifting from the current internet protocol (IP) – an elegant, address-based routing technology designed in the 1970s – to name-based routing, he said.

    An IP address is a unique number for an internet device, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which allocates the numbers used to route internet traffic to devices.

    MobilityFirst’s name-based approach would be a fundamental change. Names would represent people, mobile phones, internet devices, small sensors or any other objects connected to the internet, said Raychaudhuri, a native of India who received his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the State University of New York, Stony Brook.

    The benefits of MobilityFirst include more flexible services, better security, support for mobility across many technologies, efficiency and the ability to handle large volumes of traffic and data.

    “We are not expecting to rip out the old internet,” Raychaudhuri said. “The internet has a lot of nice properties that we don’t want to lose. But one of the challenges for today’s internet is that with all these different modes of communication, some of them such as mobility services, broadcasting or content delivery are not handled very efficiently, and this could lead to flooding the network with too much data.”

    The different modes of communication include the “Internet of Things” – a swiftly flowering field featuring smart objects, such as fitness monitors and smart watches, home thermostats and lighting, smartphones and devices with sensors. Smart objects are expected to become pervasive in society, managing energy use in homes, monitoring food consumption, diagnosing health problems, monitoring cybersecurity and making driving safer, among other benefits.

    Some 50 billion smart objects are anticipated by 2020, and 1 trillion sensors soon thereafter, according to the NSF.

    “The Internet of Things has a lot of potential, but it needs fast and low delay networks that can ensure that data are received in time,” Raychaudhuri said. “A lot of people are working on how to make cellular networks faster – so-called ‘5G’ – and more functional, and many of the goals are similar to what we have in the MobilityFirst project.”

    Three MobilityFirst trials are underway or planned, including one with SES, a satellite services company with a Princeton office. SES is using the MobilityFirst system to deliver content closer to its users, reducing the cost and improving user experience.

    The second trial – with the University of Wisconsin-Madison – will show how an internet service provider’s circuits can be extended to offer mobile service. The third trial, led by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in Texas, will look into how to do targeted emergency messaging in a disaster-recovery scenario, such as following a terrorism incident or a major hurricane like Katrina in 2005.

    The Internet of Things also covers virtual reality and augmented reality, with people wearing special glasses that, for example, provide directions as they walk or show the stores in a shopping center, said Raychaudhuri, who joined Rutgers in 2001 after working at a startup company called Iospan Wireless in Silicon Valley, as well as the NEC USA C&C Research Laboratory and Sarnoff/ RCA Laboratories, both in Princeton, New Jersey.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a leading national research university and the state’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Rutgers is dedicated to teaching that meets the highest standards of excellence; to conducting research that breaks new ground; and to providing services, solutions, and clinical care that help individuals and the local, national, and global communities where they live.

    Founded in 1766, Rutgers teaches across the full educational spectrum: preschool to precollege; undergraduate to graduate; postdoctoral fellowships to residencies; and continuing education for professional and personal advancement.

    Rutgers smaller

  • richardmitnick 3:11 pm on October 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , EEW: Earthquake Early Warning at UC Berkeley, , , Why San Francisco’s next quake could be much bigger than feared   

    From New Scientist: “Why San Francisco’s next quake could be much bigger than feared” 


    New Scientist

    19 October 2016
    Chelsea Whyte

    Geological faults lie beneath the San Francisco Bay Area. USGS/ESA

    By Chelsea Whyte

    Since reports hit last year that a potentially massive earthquake could destroy vast tracts of the west coast of the United States, my phone has rung regularly with concerned family members from the Pacific coast asking one question: how big could it possibly be?

    In the San Francisco Bay Area, new findings now show a connection between two fault lines that could result in a major earthquake clocking in at magnitude 7.4.

    At that magnitude, it would radiate five times more energy than the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that killed dozens, injured thousands, and cost billions of dollars in direct damage.

    .“The concerning thing with the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults is that they’ve accumulated enough stress to be released in a major earthquake. They’re, in a sense, primed,” says Janet Watt, a geophysicist at the US Geological Survey who led the study.

    The Hayward fault’s average time between quakes is 140 years, and the last one was 148 years ago.

    “In the next 30 years, there’s a 33 per cent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or greater,” she says. These two faults combined cover 190 kilometres running parallel to their famous neighbour, the San Andreas fault, from Santa Rosa in the north down through San Pablo Bay and south right under Berkeley stadium.

    Sweeping the bay

    To map the faults, Watt and her team scanned back and forth across the bay for magnetic anomalies that crop up near fault lines. They also swept the bay with a high-frequency acoustic instrument called a chirp to image the faults’ relationship below the sea floor using radar and sonar, in a similar way to how a bat uses echolocation to “see” the shape of a cave.

    “A direct connection makes it easier for a larger earthquake to occur that ruptures both faults,” says Roland Bürgmann at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies faults in the area.

    The Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults [Science Advances] combined could produce an earthquake releasing five times more energy than the Hayward fault alone.

    “It doesn’t mean the two faults couldn’t rupture together without the connection,” says Burgmann. “And it doesn’t mean that smaller earthquakes couldn’t occur on one or the other of the two faults most of the time.”

    But it makes the scenario of the larger, linked quake more likely, he says.

    Be prepared

    Bürgmann and his colleagues have found a similar connection between the southern end of the Hayward fault and the Calaveras fault, suggesting that they ought to be treated as one continuous fault. This new work follows that fault even farther north.

    So what do I tell my mom next time she calls?

    “Most important continues to be improving preparedness at all levels,” says Bürgmann. That includes better construction, personal readiness supplies, and the implementation of earthquake early warning systems, which include sensors triggered by the first signs of a quake and send out alerts ahead of the most violent shaking.

    The state and federal governments support building such a warning system in California, an effort led by Berkeley’s Seismological Laboratory.

    See the full article here.

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network


    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).


    BOINC WallPaper

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 8:12 pm on October 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, Did a Comet Set Off Global Warming 56 Million Years Ago?,   

    From Smithsonian: “Did a Comet Set Off Global Warming 56 Million Years Ago?” 


    October 18, 2016
    Jason Daley

    (Puchan via iStock)

    About 55.6 million years ago, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), global warming sped out of control. As the atmosphere’s carbon levels rose, so did sea levels and temperatures, which jumped by 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Many species either struck out on massive migrations or went extinct

    Though this period is one of the best geologic representations of what climate change is doing to the planet today, researchers still don’t know why it happened, reports Sarah Kaplan for The Washington Post. Some argue that the rise in carbon took place over 5,000 to 20,000 years and could have come from volcanic activity. Others believe a change in Earth’s orbit or a change in ocean currents could have triggered the upward march of temperatures.

    In 2003 researcher Dennis Kent of Columbia University suggested that a comet impact could have triggered such a rapid warming event. Now, he and his colleagues present potential evidence that a comet did indeed set off the PETM.

    In a new paper published in Science, Kent suggests that tiny glass spheres called microtektites found along the coast of New Jersey are signs that a comet hit earth around the time of the Thermal Maximum. Microtektites are thought to form from massive extraterrestrial impacts with Earth, which spray the beads of rapidly cooling molten glass and quartz out from the impact zones.

    Morgan Schaller, lead author of the study and researcher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, found the sand-grain sized glass beads in core samples collected in suburban Millville and Wilson Lake, New Jersey, in a stream bed in the town of Medford and in a core taken from the deep sea bed near Bermuda. Each of them contain the dark beads in the layer associated with the start of the PETM.

    Schaller wasn’t originally on the hunt for evidence of a comet strike at all, reports Paul Voosen at Science. Instead, he and graduate student Megan Fung were hunting the Jersey shore for fossils of microorganisms called foraminifera, which can be used to date sediments, when they encountered the microtektites.

    The team concluded that the spheres came from an extraterrestrial impact, and a layer of charcoal above and below the stratum containing the beads indicates a time of immense wildfires, which would have occurred after a comet hit. Schaller believes the amount of carbon introduced by the comet would have been immense.

    “It’s got to be more than coincidental that there’s an impact right at the same time [of the PETM],” Schaller says in the press release. “If the impact was related, it suggests the carbon release was fast.”

    Not everyone is convinced by the evidence. Ellen Thomas, a geologist at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, tells Voosen she has re-examined cores taken at the PETM boundary in New Jersey and globally and has found no spherules. If the researchers are able to definitively date the beads, she says she’ll be convinced. Otherwise she believes the microtektites may come from other layers and possibly contaminated the PETM layers during the drilling process.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Smithsonian magazine and Smithsonian.com place a Smithsonian lens on the world, looking at the topics and subject matters researched, studied and exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution — science, history, art, popular culture and innovation — and chronicling them every day for our diverse readership.

  • richardmitnick 1:13 pm on October 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , Improving Silicon for Future Electronics, , Perovskite oxides   

    From Cornell: “Improving Silicon for Future Electronics” 

    Cornell Bloc

    Cornell University

    Daniel Hada Harianja

    To retain its mainstay status in microelectronics, silicon must undergo improvement for advanced multifunctionality in future electronic devices.

    Zhe Wang

    Silicon needs an upgrade. As innovators dream of better devices, they seek more functionalities to be built into their microelectronics. Silicon, the backbone of electronics, cannot fulfill those demands alone.

    One upgrade comes in the form of perovskite oxides. Named after the specific crystalline structure of such material, perovskite oxides have for decades captivated scientists with their vast range of electrical, magnetic, and optical properties. The objective, therefore, is to build desired perovskite oxide layers on top of silicon, granting a device of multiple functionalities.

    Growing most oxides on top of silicon is difficult to do directly, because silicon is easily oxidized into amorphous forms of itself, which then cannot accommodate the functional oxides. So the scientific community is hard at work to perfect an intermediate layer between the two—something that is sufficiently compatible with silicon and able to act as a template on top of which other oxides can be built.

    The Challenge of Growing Perovskite Oxides on Silicon

    Zhe Wang, an Applied and Engineering Physics graduate student, is part of that scientific frontier. Wang works in the research group of Darrell Schlom, Materials Science and Engineering. Together with the group, Wang hopes to improve the growing method of SrTiO3­­, a perovskite and the most widely researched candidate for that middle layer. Specifically, Wang aims to enhance the crystalline quality of the SrTiO3 layer.

    “The advantage is that if we can grow these functional material on silicon, we can reach multifunctionality on silicon,” says Wang. “This can be used in future devices, such as smartphones, sensors, antennae, photovoltaic cells, and many others.”

    Unlike most oxides, SrTiO3­­ can be feasibly formed on top of silicon by adjusting the growing conditions. To act as a good template, however, on which other functional materials can be built, the SrTiO3­­ film must be formed as a single-crystal, which means the layer has a single lattice orientation throughout its crystal structure.

    Creating or depositing such a film flawlessly is challenging. “Even though we can achieve single-crystal layers, the crystalline quality is often not very good. It has many defects,” says Wang. “If we grow other functional materials on top of it, the functional materials will also not be perfect, because the underlying layer is not perfect.”

    By studying molecular beam epitaxy, one of the most advanced thin-film deposition methods available, Wang hopes to fine-tune the conditions necessary for a good film. This method subjects the deposition process to very low pressures of below 10-8 Torr, which allows for the highest possible purity of the film. To form a layer on silicon, the constituent elements of the layer are separately heated in effusion cells until they sublime into vapor. The vapors, along with a stream of oxygen, then meet on the silicon surface and react to form a film. As the deposition occurs, reflection high-energy electron diffraction is employed to evaluate the crystal growth by firing electrons on the target materials and analyzing its diffraction pattern.

    “The parameters [of the process] are complicated to get right,” Wang says. For one, the stoichiometry of the constituent elements of the film must be extremely precise. The temperature must be high enough to allow the film deposition to occur, but not too high that it oxidizes the silicon.

    Toward Success, It Takes Collaboration

    Despite the challenges, many appreciate the progress in Wang’s work. Within the past year, collaborators from Singapore, Berkeley, and the Netherlands have published separate papers on the properties of other perovskite materials that they have grown atop of Wang’s high quality SrTiO3 films on silicon, including their applications in different microelectronic devices. Wang also plans to try integrating his own perovskite oxides onto his template in the future. It depends, however, on the ability to build good films on top of silicon, and as Wang explains, good films require a good underlying SrTiO3­­ layer.

    It is not simply the cutting-edge tools that boost Wang’s research. “We have a lot of collaboration. We are making the material, but to understand the perfection, performance, and defects at the atomic level, we collaborate with other groups at Cornell.” For instance, the research team of Lena F. Kourkoutis, Applied and Engineering Physics, has used transmission electron microscopy to help with characterizing the interface structure and film quality. Kyle Shen’s research group, Physics, has integrated their angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) with the molecular beam epitaxy system to study the materials being formed without exposure to air. Other collaborations include research into utilizing density functional theory to predict novel properties of materials. Like silicon, no one researcher can fulfill all those demands alone. Through collaboration, Wang achieves more.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    Once called “the first American university” by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.

    Today’s Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation’s first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.

    On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.

  • richardmitnick 5:31 pm on October 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , ,   

    From LBNL: “Girls Inc. of Alameda Visits Berkeley Lab” 

    Berkeley Logo

    Berkeley Lab


    We love supporting #GirlsInSTEM! Recently, our Workforce Development & Education group hosted a group of middle school and high school girls from Girls Inc. of Alameda County for a day of exploration at the Lab that included tours of the Advanced Light Source, Molecular Foundry, and NERSC, as well as interactions with more than 20 female scientists, engineers, and other professionals to share about careers. The girls meet monthly as part of the Eureka! Teen Achievement Program, a national, three-year initiative created by Girls Inc. to encourage girls to explore career paths in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (#STEM).


    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    A U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory Operated by the University of California

    University of California Seal

    DOE Seal

  • richardmitnick 5:11 pm on October 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , San Joaquin Expanding Your Horizons Conference, ,   

    From LLNL: “Girls explore STEM careers at conference” 

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Oct. 17, 2016
    Carenda L Martin

    “She Believed She Could So She Did STEM,” was the theme for the recent San Joaquin Expanding Your Horizons Conference, held at the University of the Pacific

    “She Believed She Could So She Did STEM,” was the theme for the 24th annual San Joaquin Expanding Your Horizons (SJEYH) conference, where nearly 500 young women flocked to the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton, excited to learn more about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

    The conference, which is co-sponsored by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of the Pacific School of Engineering and Computer Science, sparks girls’ interest in STEM careers in a fun environment. Participants, spanning grades 6-12, came from across San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, including Stockton, Lodi, Manteca, Modesto and other rural communities, to attend the daylong event.

    Monique Warren, a Stockton native and environmental engineer at LLNL, served as the keynote speaker, kicking off the event with an enthusiastic and inspirational talk exploring the SJEYH theme.

    As a past attendee, Warren was delighted to come full circle as the keynote speaker and credited SJEYH and programs like it for helping her get to where she is today. “When I first heard the theme for this year’s conference, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, what a great idea and what a great thing to teach,'” said Warren. “But the more I thought about this theme, the more I realized that wasn’t how my story began.”

    Warren didn’t always have a clear picture of what she wanted to do in life. “There have been many people in my life who have influenced, taught and helped to shape who I am for the better,” said Warren. “However, there are four special people in particular, that without them, I may not have become an environmental engineer. These four people are a huge part of the reason that I believed ‘I could.'”

    Warren shared that her primary inspiration came from her parents, along with mentors Andrea Hodge, an LLNL scientist, and Darin Gray, her teacher when she attended the USC Discover Engineering program.

    “My dad, a Laboratory employee, opened my eyes to the possibility of science through his determination to connect me with a mentor,” said Warren. Through his network at LLNL, he introduced me to Andrea, who shared with me first-hand what her job entailed. Darin Gray showed me that engineers solve real world problems and by introducing fun hands-on projects, he gave me a feel for what engineering was like. Finally, it was my mom who encouraged me to the point where I believed I could do it.”

    “Our goal today is to provide you with the opportunity to see the endless possibilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and to remind you that there is so much you can be and do,” said Warren. “If you want to live life like you intend to win, you need to put in the ‘EFFORT’ (enthusiasm, faith, flexibility, originality, rise [to the challenge] and teachable).”

    Each participant attended three out of 24 hands-on workshops that were offered, including titles such as: Fun With Science, Bristle Bots, DNA Cheek Cell Extraction Experiment, Cyber Defense, Ubiquitous Electronics, Water Treatment in Action, Engineer a Microscope, Computer Repair and Networking, Chemistry Potions and many more.

    After lunch and the final workshop, event organizers showed a slideshow of photos from the day and distributed raffle prizes to participants, including a laptop (grand prize). Many of those present had attended SJEYH before. Sierra Carpenter (Millenium High School), Diana Aguilera (Stockton Early College Academy), Emma Navarra and Hanna Navarra (both from Connecting Waters Charter School) received recognition for having attended the conference for all seven years.

    Jeene Villanueva, a computer scientist at LLNL, served as SJEYH conference chair for the second year in a row. “It is exciting to see the impact this conference has on students,” she said. “Past attendees are now professional women scientists and come back as volunteers to run workshops and chaperone groups. We feel the excitement continue not only in new attendees, but in workshop presenters and volunteers as well.”

    The annual conference is coordinated by a core committee of volunteers with the help of 200 additional volunteers who work at LLNL, Sandia National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific, along with other members of the community. More than 40 LLNL employees were involved in making SJEYH a successful event.

    “This conference runs smoothly due to the hard work of my awesome team that includes Deb Burdick, Martha Campiotti, Marleen Emig, Cary Gellner, Carolyn Hall, Joan Houston, Sharon Langman, Carrie Martin, Kathleen Shoga, Lindsey Whitehurst, Pearline Williams and Teri York,” said Villanueva. “I am always impressed by their selfless dedication to ensuring a successful event each year.”

    Special guests in attendance included: Jenny Kenoyer, City of Modesto council member; Maria Mendez, Stockton Unified School District Board of Education; Chiakis Ornelas, representing Congressman Jerry McNerney, 9th District Office; and Steven Howell, dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of the Pacific.

    Various sponsors that contributed giveaways, services and donations included the American Association of University Women (AAUW); Junior League of San Joaquin County; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Women’s Association; Matthew Simpson (LLNL); NASCO, Modesto; Sandia Women’s Connection; SaveMart S.H.A.R.E.S. Program; Sandia/Lockheed Martin Foundation Gifts and Grants; Simplot J R Company, Lathrop; Society of Women Engineers/UOP; Soroptimist International, Manteca, Tracy; Stockton AAUW and Watermark.

    For more information, see the SJEYH website.

    To view more photos of the event, see the San Joaquin EYH 2016 photo gallery.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    LLNL Campus

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

  • richardmitnick 10:42 am on October 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , Cuprates, , , X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy   

    From BNL: “Scientists Find Static “Stripes” of Electrical Charge in Copper-Oxide Superconductor” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    October 14, 2016
    Ariana Tantillo
    (631) 344-2347
    Peter Genzer
    (631) 344-3174

    Fixed arrangement of charges coexists with material’s ability to conduct electricity without resistance

    Members of the Brookhaven Lab research team—(clockwise from left) Stuart Wilkins, Xiaoqian Chen, Mark Dean, Vivek Thampy, and Andi Barbour—at the National Synchrotron Light Source II’s Coherent Soft X-ray Scattering beamline, where they studied the electronic order of “charge stripes” in a copper-oxide superconductor. No image credit.

    Cuprates, or compounds made of copper and oxygen, can conduct electricity without resistance by being “doped” with other chemical elements and cooled to temperatures below minus 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite extensive research on this phenomenon—called high-temperature superconductivity—scientists still aren’t sure how it works. Previous experiments have established that ordered arrangements of electrical charges known as “charge stripes” coexist with superconductivity in many forms of cuprates. However, the exact nature of these stripes—specifically, whether they fluctuate over time—and their relationship to superconductivity—whether they work together with or against the electrons that pair up and flow without energy loss—have remained a mystery.

    Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have demonstrated that static, as opposed to fluctuating, charge stripes coexist with superconductivity in a cuprate when lanthanum and barium are added in certain amounts. Their research, described in a paper published on October 11 in Physical Review Letters, suggests that this static ordering of electrical charges may cooperate rather than compete with superconductivity. If this is the case, then the electrons that periodically bunch together to form the static charge stripes may be separated in space from the free-moving electron pairs required for superconductivity.

    “Understanding the detailed physics of how these compounds work helps us validate or rule out existing theories and should point the way toward a recipe for how to raise the superconducting temperature,” said paper co-author Mark Dean, a physicist in the X-Ray Scattering Group of the Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department at Brookhaven Lab. “Raising this temperature is crucial for the application of superconductivity to lossless power transmission.”

    Charge stripes put to the test of time

    To see whether the charge stripes were static or fluctuating in their compound, the scientists used a technique called x-ray photon correlation spectroscopy. In this technique, a beam of coherent x-rays is fired at a sample, causing the x-ray photons, or light particles, to scatter off the sample’s electrons. These photons fall onto a specialized, high-speed x-ray camera, where they generate electrical signals that are converted to a digital image of the scattering pattern. Based on how the light interacts with the electrons in the sample, the pattern contains grainy dark and bright spots called speckles. By studying this “speckle pattern” over time, scientists can tell if and how the charge stripes change.

    In this study, the source of the x-rays was the Coherent Soft X-ray Scattering (CSX-1) beamline at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), a DOE Office of Science User Facility at Brookhaven.

    BNL NSLS-II Interior

    “It would be very difficult to do this experiment anywhere else in the world,” said co-author Stuart Wilkins, manager of the soft x-ray scattering and spectroscopy program at NSLS-II and lead scientist for the CSX-1 beamline. “Only a small fraction of the total electrons in the cuprate participate in the charge stripe order, so the intensity of the scattered x-rays from this cuprate is extremely small. As a result, we need a very intense, highly coherent x-ray beam to see the speckles. NSLS-II’s unprecedented brightness and coherent photon flux allowed us to achieve this beam. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to discern the very subtle electronic order of the charge stripes.”

    The team’s speckle pattern was consistent throughout a nearly three-hour measurement period, suggesting that the compound has a highly static charge stripe order. Previous studies had only been able to confirm this static order up to a timescale of microseconds, so scientists were unsure if any fluctuations would emerge beyond that point.

    X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy is one of the few techniques that scientists can use to test for these fluctuations on very long timescales. The team of Brookhaven scientists—representing a close collaboration between one of Brookhaven’s core departments and one of its user facilities—is the first to apply the technique to study the charge ordering in this particular cuprate. “Combining our expertise in high-temperature superconductivity and x-ray scattering with the capabilities at NSLS-II is a great way to approach these kind of studies,” said Wilkins.

    To make accurate measurements over such a long time, the team had to ensure the experimental setup was incredibly stable. “Maintaining the same x-ray intensity and sample position with respect to the x-ray beam are crucial, but these parameters become more difficult to control as time goes on and eventually impossible,” said Dean. “When the temperature of the building changes or there are vibrations from cars or other experiments, things can move. NSLS-II has been carefully engineered to counteract these factors, but not indefinitely.”

    “The x-ray beam at CSX-1 is stable within a very small fraction of the 10-micron beam size over our almost three-hour practical limit,” added Xiaoqian Chen, co-first author and a postdoc in the X-Ray Scattering Group at Brookhaven. CSX-1’s performance exceeds that of any other soft x-ray beamline currently operational in the United States.

    In part of the experiment, the scientists heated up the compound to test whether thermal energy might cause the charge stripes to fluctuate. They observed no fluctuations, even up to the temperature at which the compound is known to stop behaving as a superconductor.

    “We were surprised that the charge stripes were so remarkably static over such long timescales and temperature ranges,” said co-first author and postdoc Vivek Thampy of the X-Ray Scattering Group. “We thought we may see some fluctuations near the transition temperature where the charge stripe order disappears, but we didn’t.”

    In a final check, the team theoretically calculated the speckle patterns, which were consistent with their experimental data.

    Going forward, the team plans to use this technique to probe the nature of charges in cuprates with different chemical compositions.

    X-ray scattering measurements were supported by the Center for Emergent Superconductivity, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by DOE’s Office of Science.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.

  • richardmitnick 7:37 pm on October 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, ,   

    From Smithsonian: “Predicting Chaos: New Sensors Sniff Out Volcanic Eruptions Before They Happen” 


    October 13, 2016
    Laura Poppick

    Mount Etna, Italy, erupts at night. (Alessandro Aiuppa, University of Palermo, Italy)

    Volcanoes have blindsided humans for millennia, leaving entire cities at the whim of their devastating eruptions. But compared to other forms of natural disaster, volcanoes actually offer a variety of quiet clues leading up to their destruction. Now, new developments in volcano monitoring systems allow scientists to sniff out, forecast and plan for eruptions with more precision than ever before.

    “We are now able to put really precise instruments on volcanoes to monitor the types of gases that are emitted, and that gives us a clue as to where magma is in the system,” says Marie Edmonds, a volcanologist at the University of Cambridge who has been working amongst fuming volcanoes for about 15 years. “We can see trends in the data relating to eruptions that are just about to happen.”

    Edmonds is part of an international group called the Deep Carbon Observatory that is working to place newly developed gas sensors on 15 of the 150 most active volcanoes on Earth by 2019, to improve their capacity to forecast different types of eruptions worldwide. Last week the Deep Carbon Observatory released an interactive visualization, supported in part by the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program, that allows the public to watch visualizations of historic volcanic data evolve through time.

    The visualization also lets viewers follow along as new sensors are deployed. These sensors continuously measure carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and water vapor fuming out of volcanoes, and are placed within large boxes and buried underground with antennae on the surface. In recent years, advancements in electronics have made them more precise and affordable, allowing scientists to use them more prevalently around he world.

    Yet placing these sensors on top of active volcanoes isn’t without risk. Researchers must wear reflective suits to protect their skin from excess heat, and gas masks to protect their lungs from getting singed by corrosive gases—sometimes after hiking long distances through remote regions to reach a site. But Edmond says the potential good such work can do for populations at risk makes the more dangerous parts of the job worthwhile.

    “It’s brilliant to know that you are doing something to actually help people,” says Edmonds. “You do think about what you’re doing because it is sometimes dangerous, but I really do enjoy it.”

    Volcanologist Tobias Fischer of the University of New Mexico hikes down the steep crater wall of the vigorously degassing Gareloi volcano in the Western Aleutian Islands to collect a volcanic gas sample. (Taryn Lopez, University of Alaska Fairbanks)

    In the past month, researchers from Edmonds’ team attached one of their sensors on a drone and measured emissions from a remote volcano in Papau New Guinea over a short period of time, demonstrating another recently-developed technique used to collect snapshots of volcanic activity. When collected over a range of different types of volcanoes, these snapshots help scientists better understand the complexities of the activities leading up to an eruption. (What drones can’t do, however, is take long-term measurements.)

    Gas sensors help forecast eruptions because, as magma rises up, the resulting release of pressure overhead uncorks gases dissolved within the magma. Carbon dioxide billows out relatively early on and, as magma slithers higher up, sulfur dioxide begins to fume out. Researchers use the ratio of these two gases to determine how close the magma is getting to the earth’s surface, and how imminent an eruption may be.

    As magma rises, it also pushes through rock in the crust and causes tiny earthquakes not usually felt by humans above, but detectable with sensitive seismic equipment. Edmonds’ team often pairs gas sensors with seismic stations and uses the data in tandem to study volcanoes

    Robin Matoza, a researcher at the University of California at Santa Barbara who is not involved in Edmond’s research, agrees that technological advancements in recent years have drastically improved researchers’ ability to understand the inner workings of volcanoes and the behaviors leading up to eruptions. In places where his team once had just a few seismic stations, they can have now installed 10 or more due to the smaller size and increasing affordability of the technology. The ability to compute the collected data has also improved in recent years, Matoza says.

    “Now we are easily able to store years worth of seismic data just on a small flash drive,” says Matoza, who studies seismic signals released by volcanoes prior to eruptions. “So we can easily query that large data and learn more about the processes contained in it.”

    To supplement gas and seismic information on a broader scale, researchers use satellites to study eruptions from above. Volcanologists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory in Anchorage and Fairbanks collect this suite of gas, seismic and satellite data to on a regular basis, monitoring roughly 25 volcanoes across the state and offer early warnings to residents.

    For example, they released a series of warnings in the months leading up to the 2009 eruption of Mount Redbout, about 110 miles (180 km) southwest of Anchorage. They also work closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to help detect aviation hazards during eruptions.

    Over time, the researchers agree that satellites will become increasingly useful in collecting data over large regions. But at the moment, satellites are less precise and not as reliable as the other tools, in part because they don’t collect data as rapidly and don’t function well during cloudy weather.

    “You can have a satellite pass over a volcano and it can be obscured by clouds,” says Matt Haney, a volcanologist at the Alaska Volcanic Observatory. “I imagine in the future there will be new satellites that are launched that will be even more powerful.”

    Despite the challenges of this work, Edmonds says it can be easier to forecast volcanic eruptions than some other hazards because of the array of warning signs preceding eruptions compared to certain earthquakes and other abrupt disasters. And while the researchers may not be able to forecast to the exact day or hour that an eruption will occur yet, rapidly advancing technology is moving them in that direction.

    “The more instruments and the more sensors just contribute to our toolbox,” says Edmonds. “We are one step closer.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Smithsonian magazine and Smithsonian.com place a Smithsonian lens on the world, looking at the topics and subject matters researched, studied and exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution — science, history, art, popular culture and innovation — and chronicling them every day for our diverse readership.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: