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  • richardmitnick 10:07 am on September 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Sandia 3D-imaging workflow has benefits for medicine; electric cars; and nuclear deterrence", DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), EQUIPS: Efficient Quantification of Uncertainty in Image-based Physics Simulation, New computer simulation method can equip engineers and doctors with more and better information.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Sandia 3D-imaging workflow has benefits for medicine; electric cars; and nuclear deterrence” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    September 14, 2021

    New computer simulation method can equip engineers and doctors with more and better information.

    Sandia National Laboratories researchers have created a method of processing 3D images for computer simulations that could have beneficial implications for several industries, including health care, manufacturing and electric vehicles.

    1
    An illustration used by Sandia National Laboratories researchers to show the uncertainty of drawing boundaries in scanned images used for high-consequence computer simulations. The gray-scale image on the left is a scan of material used as a thermal barrier. The illustrated image on the right shows the material segmented into two classes (blue and purple). The black lines show one possible interface boundary between the two classes of material. The yellow region depicts the segmentation uncertainty, meaning the black lines could be drawn anywhere within that area and still be valid. (Illustration courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.)

    At Sandia, the method could prove vital in certifying the credibility of high-performance computer simulations used in determining the effectiveness of various materials for weapons programs and other efforts, said Scott A. Roberts, Sandia’s principal investigator on the project. Sandia can also use the new 3D-imaging workflow to test and optimize batteries used for large-scale energy storage and in vehicles.

    “It’s really consistent with Sandia’s mission to do credible, high-consequence computer simulation,” he said. “We don’t want to just give you an answer and say, ‘trust us.’ We’re going to say, ‘here’s our answer and here’s how confident we are in that answer,’ so that you can make informed decisions.”

    The researchers shared the new workflow, dubbed by the team as EQUIPS for Efficient Quantification of Uncertainty in Image-based Physics Simulation, in a paper published today in the journal Nature Communications.

    “This workflow leads to more reliable results by exploring the effect that ambiguous object boundaries in a scanned image have in simulations,” said Michael Krygier, a Sandia postdoctoral appointee and lead author on the paper. “Instead of using one interpretation of that boundary, we’re suggesting you need to perform simulations using different interpretations of the boundary to reach a more informed decision.”

    EQUIPS can use machine learning to quantify the uncertainty in how an image is drawn for 3D computer simulations. By giving a range of uncertainty, the workflow allows decision-makers to consider best- and worst-case outcomes, Roberts said.

    Workflow EQUIPS decision-makers with better information

    Think of a doctor examining a CT scan to create a cancer treatment plan. That scan can be rendered into a 3D image, which can then be used in a computer simulation to create a radiation dose that will efficiently treat a tumor without unnecessarily damaging surrounding tissue. Normally, the simulation would produce one result because the 3D image was rendered once, said Carianne Martinez, a Sandia computer scientist.

    But, drawing object boundaries in a scan can be difficult and there is more than one sensible way to do so, she said. “CT scans aren’t perfect images. It can be hard to see boundaries in some of these images.”

    Humans and machines will draw different but reasonable interpretations of the tumor’s size and shape from those blurry images, Krygier said.

    Using the EQUIPS workflow, which can use machine learning to automate the drawing process, the 3D image is rendered into many viable variations showing size and location of a potential tumor. Those different renderings will produce a range of different simulation outcomes, Martinez said. Instead of one answer, the doctor will have a range of prognoses to consider that can affect risk assessments and treatment decisions, be they chemotherapy or surgery.

    “When you’re working with real-world data there is not a single-point solution,” Roberts said. “If I want to be really confident in an answer, I need to understand that the value can be anywhere between two points, and I’m going to make decisions based on knowing it’s somewhere in this range not just thinking it’s at one point.”

    The EQUIPS team has made the source code and a working example of the new workflow available online for other researchers and programmers. Bayesian Convolutional Neural Network source code is available here and the Monte Carlo Dropout Network source code here. Both are on GitHub. A python Jupyter notebook demonstrating the entire EQUIPS workflow on a simple manufactured image is available here.

    It’s a question of segmentation

    The first step of image-based simulation is the image segmentation, or put simply, deciding which pixel (voxel in a 3D image) to assign to each object and therefore drawing the boundary between two objects. From there, scientists can begin to build models for computational simulation. But pixels and voxels will blend with gradual gradient changes, so it is not always clear where to draw the boundary line — the gray areas in a black and white CT scan or X-ray, Krygier said.

    The inherent problem with segmenting a scanned image is that whether it’s done by a person using the best software tools available or with the latest in machine learning capabilities there are many plausible ways to assign the pixels to the objects, he said.

    Two people performing segmentation on the same image are likely to choose a different combination of filtering and techniques leading to different but still valid segmentations. There is no reason to favor one image segmentation over another. It’s the same with advanced machine learning techniques. While it can be quicker, more consistent and more accurate than manual segmentation, different computer neural networks use varying inputs and work on different parameters. Therefore, they can produce different but still valid segmentations, Martinez said.

    Sandia’s EQUIPS workflow does not eliminate such segmentation uncertainty, but it improves the credibility of the final simulations by making the previously unrecognized uncertainty visible to the decision-maker, Krygier said.

    2
    A traditional image-based simulation workflow converts 3D images into image segmentations using manual or convolutional neural network-based algorithms, then performs a simulation on the reconstructed segmented image. With EQUIPS, developed by Sandia National Laboratories researchers, segmentation uncertainty is calculated by creating many image segmentation samples and combining them into a probability map for simulations. (Graphic courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.)

    EQUIPS can employ two types of machine learning techniques — Monte Carlo Dropout Networks and Bayesian Convolutional Neural Networks — to perform image segmentation, with both approaches creating a set of image segmentation samples. These samples are combined to map the probability that a certain pixel or voxel is in the segmented material. To explore the impact of segmentation uncertainty, EQUIPS creates a probability map to obtain segmentations, which are then used to perform multiple simulations and calculate uncertainty distributions.

    Funded by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program, the research was conducted with partners at Indiana-based Purdue University, a member of the Sandia Academic Alliance Program. Researchers have made the source code and an EQUIPS workflow example available online.

    To illustrate the diverse applications that can benefit from the EQUIPS workflow, the researchers demonstrated in the Nature Communications paper several uses for the new method: CT scans of graphite electrodes in lithium-ion batteries, most commonly found in electric vehicles, computers, medical equipment and aircraft; a scan of a woven composite being tested for thermal protection on atmospheric reentry vehicles, such as a rocket or a missile; and scans of both the human aorta and spine.

    “What we really have done is say that you can take machine learning segmentation and not only just drop that in and get a single answer out, but you can objectively probe that machine learning segmentation to look at that ambiguity or uncertainty,” Roberts said. “Coming up with the uncertainty makes it more credible and gives more information to those needing to make decisions, whether in engineering, health care or other fields where high-consequence computer simulations are needed.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 11:59 am on August 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Sandia uncovers hidden factors that affect solar farms during severe weather", DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), Hurricanes; blizzards; hailstorms and wildfires all pose risks to solar farms both directly in the form of costly damage and indirectly in the form of blocked sunlight and reduced electricity output., The first step was to look at the maintenance records to decide which weather events we should even look at., The research team is working to extend the project to study the effect of wildfires on solar farms., The scientists combined more than two years of real-world electricity production data from more than 100 solar farms in 16 states with historical weather data., This work highlights the importance of ongoing maintenance and further research to ensure photovoltaic plants continue to operate as intended., Trying to understand how future climate conditions could impact our national energy infrastructure is exactly what we need to be doing ., Using machine learning to find the most important factors.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Sandia uncovers hidden factors that affect solar farms during severe weather” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    August 31, 2021
    Mollie Rappe
    mrappe@sandia.gov
    505-228-6123

    1
    Sandia National Laboratories researchers Thushara Gunda, front, and Nicole Jackson examine solar panels at Sandia’s Photovoltaic Systems Evaluation Laboratory as summer monsoon clouds roll by. Using machine learning and data from solar farms across the U.S., they uncovered the age of a solar farm, as well as the amount of cloud cover, have pronounced effects on farm performance during severe weather. Photo by Randy Montoya.

    Sandia National Laboratories researchers combined large sets of real-world solar data and advanced machine learning to study the impacts of severe weather on U.S. solar farms, and sort out what factors affect energy generation. Their results were published earlier this month in the scientific journal Applied Energy.

    Hurricanes; blizzards; hailstorms and wildfires all pose risks to solar farms both directly in the form of costly damage and indirectly in the form of blocked sunlight and reduced electricity output. Two Sandia researchers scoured maintenance tickets from more than 800 solar farms in 24 states and combined that information with electricity generation data and weather records to assess the effects of severe weather on the facilities. By identifying the factors that contribute to low performance, they hope to increase the resiliency of solar farms to extreme weather.

    “Trying to understand how future climate conditions could impact our national energy infrastructure is exactly what we need to be doing if we want our renewable energy sector to be resilient under a changing climate,” said Thushara Gunda, the senior researcher on the project. “Right now, we’re focused on extreme weather events, but eventually we’ll extend into chronic exposure events like consistent extreme heat.”

    Hurricanes and snow and storms, oh my!

    The Sandia research team first used natural-language processing, a type of machine learning used by smart assistants, to analyze six years of solar maintenance records for key weather-related words. The analysis methods they used for this study has since been published and is freely available for other photovoltaic researchers and operators.

    “Our first step was to look at the maintenance records to decide which weather events we should even look at,” said Gunda. “The photovoltaic community talks about hail a lot, but the data in the maintenance records tell a different story.”

    While hailstorms tend to be very costly, they did not appear in solar farm maintenance records, likely because operators tend to document hail damage in the form of insurance claims, Gunda said. Instead, she found that hurricanes were mentioned in almost 15% of weather-related maintenance records, followed by the other weather terms, such as snow, storm, lightning and wind.

    “Some hurricanes damage racking — the structure that holds up the panels — due to the high winds,” said Nicole Jackson, the lead author on the paper. “The other major issue we’ve seen from the maintenance records and talking with our industry partners is flooding blocking access to the site, which delays the process of turning the plant back on.”

    Using machine learning to find the most important factors

    Next, they combined more than two years of real-world electricity production data from more than 100 solar farms in 16 states with historical weather data to assess the effects of severe weather on solar farms. They used statistics to find that snowstorms had the highest effect on electricity production, followed by hurricanes and a general group of other storms.

    Then they used a machine learning algorithm to uncover the hidden factors that contributed to low performance from these severe weather events.

    “Statistics gives you part of the picture, but machine learning was really helpful in clarifying what are those most important variables,” said Jackson, who primarily conducted statistical analysis and the machine learning portion of the project. “Is it where the site is located? Is it how old the site is? Is it how many maintenance tickets were submitted on the day of the weather event? We ended up with a suite of variables and machine learning was used to home in on the most important ones.”

    She found that across the board, older solar farms were affected the most by severe weather. One possibility for this is that solar farms that had been in operation for more than five years had more wear-and-tear from being exposed to the elements longer, Jackson said.

    Gunda agreed, adding, “This work highlights the importance of ongoing maintenance and further research to ensure photovoltaic plants continue to operate as intended.”

    For snowstorms, which unexpectedly were the type of storm with the highest effect on electricity production, the next most important variables were low sunlight levels at the location due to cloud cover and the amount of snow, followed by several geographical features of the farm.

    For hurricanes — principally hurricanes Florence and Michael — the amount of rainfall and the timing of the nearest hurricane had the next highest effect on production after age. Surprisingly low wind speeds were significant. This is likely because when high wind speeds are predicted, solar farms are preemptively shut down so that the employees can evacuate leading to no production, Gunda said.

    Expanding the approach to wildfires, the grid

    As an impartial research institution in this space, Sandia was able to collaborate with multiple industry partners to make this work feasible. “We would not have been able to do this project without those partnerships,” Gunda said.

    The research team is working to extend the project to study the effect of wildfires on solar farms. Since wildfires aren’t mentioned in maintenance logs, they were not able to study them for this paper. Operators don’t stop to write a maintenance report when their solar farm is being threatened by a wildfire, Gunda said. “This work highlights the reality of some of the data limitations we have to grapple with when studying extreme weather events.”

    “The cool thing about this work is that we were able to develop a comprehensive approach of integrating and analyzing performance data, operations data and weather data,” Jackson said. “We’re extending the approach into wildfires to examine their performance impacts on solar energy generation in greater detail.”

    The researchers are currently expanding this work to look at the effects of severe weather on the entire electrical grid, add in more production data, and answer even more questions to help the grid adapt to the changing climate and evolving technologies.

    This research was supported by the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office and was conducted in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 8:23 am on August 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Pathways to production", , , , , DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), RetSynth, Synthetic biology analysis   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Pathways to production” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    August 30, 2021

    Paul Rhien
    prhien@sandia.gov
    925-294-6452

    Comprehensive Sandia software aids scientists in synthetic biology analysis.

    1
    A graphic illustration of the kind of retrosynthetic analysis conducted by RetSynth software developed at Sandia National Laboratories. Using a novel algorithm, the software identifies the biological or chemical reactions needed to create a desired biological product or compound. Graphic by Laura Hatfield.

    Biologists at Sandia National Laboratories developed comprehensive software that will help scientists in a variety of industries create engineered chemicals more quickly and easily. Sandia is now looking to license the software for commercial use, researchers said.

    Sandia’s stand-alone software RetSynth uses a novel algorithm to sort through large, curated databases of biological and chemical reactions, which could help scientists synthetically engineer compounds used in the production of biofuels, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals, dyes, scents and flavors.

    The software platform uses retrosynthetic analysis to help scientists identify possible pathways to production — the series of biological and chemical reactions, or steps, needed to engineer and modify the molecules in a cell — to create the desired biological product or compound. By using the software to rapidly analyze all pathways, scientists can determine the production sequence with the fewest steps, the sequences that can be completed with available resources or the most economically viable process.

    Synthetic biology involves redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities. Researchers and companies around the world are using synthetic biology to harness the power of nature to solve problems in medicine — such as the development of vaccines, antibodies and therapeutic treatments — as well as in manufacturing and agriculture.

    “Synthetic biology is becoming a critical capability for U.S. manufacturing. It has the potential to dramatically reduce waste, eliminate or curtail emissions and create next-generation therapeutics and materials,” said Corey Hudson, a computational biologist at Sandia. “That is where people will see RetSynth have the biggest impact.”

    “The diverse functionality of RetSynth opens a lot of opportunities for researchers, giving them multiple options, including biological, chemical or hybrid pathways to production,” Hudson said. “All the while, the software is accelerating the research and development process associated with bioproduction. Traditionally, this process has been relatively slow and complex.”

    RetSynth is designed to save researchers time and money by suggesting process modifications to maximize theoretical yield, or the amount of bioproduct that could be produced, Hudson said. All available pathways are rendered using clear visual images, enabling software users to quickly interpret results.

    Commercial licensing for broader impact

    The RetSynth software was originally developed as part of the Department of Energy’s Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines initiative, a consortium of national lab, university and industry researchers who are creating innovative fuels and combining them with high-efficiency engines to reduce emissions and boost fuel economy.

    Today, RetSynth has been expanded to support a variety of diverse applications, and Sandia is ready to license the software to an industry partner for commercial use, Hudson said.

    Transfer of Sandia’s innovative technologies to the marketplace through outside technology partners leads to billions in economic impact and supports tens of thousands of high-paying jobs each year, according to a recent report.

    To learn more about licensing opportunities, visit Sandia’s Licensing and Technology Transfer webpage.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 11:18 am on July 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The hidden culprit killing lithium-metal batteries from the inside", , , Determining cause-of-death for a coin battery is surprisingly difficult., DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), For decades scientists have tried to make reliable lithium-metal batteries., , , The scientists used a microscope that has a laser to mill through a battery’s outer casing., The separator is completely shredded., The team found a surprising second culprit: a hard buildup formed as a byproduct of the battery’s internal chemical reactions. Every time the battery recharged the byproduct called solid electrolyte, These high-performance storage cells hold 50% more energy than their prolific lithium-ion cousins but higher failure rates and safety problems like fires and explosions., This is what battery researchers have always wanted to see., When the team reviewed images of the batteries’ insides they expected to find needle-shaped deposits of lithium spanning the battery.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “The hidden culprit killing lithium-metal batteries from the inside” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    July 14, 2021

    Troy Rummler
    trummle@sandia.gov
    505-249-3632

    First-of-their-kind snapshots reveal byproduct crippling powerful, experimental cells.

    1
    Sandia National Laboratories scientists Katie Harrison, left, and Katie Jungjohann have pioneered a new way to look inside batteries to learn how and why they fail. Photo by Bret Latter.

    For decades scientists have tried to make reliable lithium-metal batteries. These high-performance storage cells hold 50% more energy than their prolific, lithium-ion cousins but higher failure rates and safety problems like fires and explosions have crippled commercialization efforts. Researchers have hypothesized why the devices fail, but direct evidence has been sparse.

    Now, the first nanoscale images ever taken inside intact, lithium-metal coin batteries (also called button cells or watch batteries) challenge prevailing theories and could help make future high-performance batteries, such as for electric vehicles, safer, more powerful and longer lasting.

    “We’re learning that we should be using separator materials tuned for lithium metal,” said battery scientist Katie Harrison, who leads Sandia National Laboratories’ team for improving the performance of lithium-metal batteries.

    Sandia scientists, in collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., the University of Oregon (US) and DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (US), published the images recently in ACS Energy Letters.

    2

    3
    Figure 1. Scanning electron micrographs of intact angled-sections of high-rate cycled Li-metal half cells. (a) Uncycled cell, including: stainless-steel cap, Cu current collector, stack of two Celgard 2325 separators, Li metal, bottom Cu current collector, and lower stainless-steel disc, (b) 1st Li plating, (c) 1st Li stripping, (d) 11th plating, (e) 51st plating, and (f) 101st plating step. White arrows indicate cracks in the SEI matrix and gray regions indicate structures out-of-plane from the cut face.

    3
    Figure 2. Electrochemical performance of the 101st Li plating sample. (a) Capacity of the plating and stripping cycles, for Li plating at a high rate of 1.88 mA/cm2 up to the 101st plating step. (b) Coulombic efficiency of each full cycle, exhibiting the battery’s ability to efficiently recapture Li, even after the quantity of plated Li significantly decreases at ∼75 cycles. Capacity (c) and Coulombic efficiency (d) of the plating and stripping cycles at a low rate of 0.47 mA/cm2 to a capacity of 1.88 mAh/cm2. (e) Scanning electron micrograph of an intact angled-section of the 101st Li plating low-rate cycled half-cell. The brown layer at the top of the image is the stainless-steel cap, and the gray contrast indicates structures out-of-plane from the cut face.

    4
    Figure 3. Scanning electron micrographs of high-rate cycled angled-sections showing failure within two stacked Celgard 2325 separators. (a) Uncycled cell and (b) higher-magnification image of the separator porosity (with the lighter contrast indicating iron redeposition from laser ablation), (c) 1st Li plating, (d) 1st Li stripping, (e) 11th plating, (f) 51st plating, and (g) 101st plating step.

    5
    Figure 4. Schematic short-circuit mechanism for conductive Li pathways through the polymeric separator via SEI formation and subsequent deformation of the separator. SEI formed during the current plating step is colored yellow; SEI that formed in a prior step is colored gray.

    Internal byproduct builds up, kills batteries

    The team repeatedly charged and discharged lithium coin cells with the same high-intensity electric current that electric vehicles need to charge. Some cells went through a few cycles, while others went through more than a hundred cycles. Then, the cells were shipped to Thermo Fisher Scientific in Hillsboro, Oregon, for analysis.

    6
    In this new, false-color image of a lithium-metal test battery produced by Sandia National Laboratories, high-rate charging and recharging red lithium metal greatly distorts the green separator, creating tan reaction byproducts, to the surprise of scientists. Image by Katie Jungjohann.

    When the team reviewed images of the batteries’ insides they expected to find needle-shaped deposits of lithium spanning the battery. Most battery researchers think that a lithium spike forms after repetitive cycling and that it punches through a plastic separator between the anode and the cathode, forming a bridge that causes a short. But lithium is a soft metal, so scientists have not understood how it could get through the separator.

    Harrison’s team found a surprising second culprit: a hard buildup formed as a byproduct of the battery’s internal chemical reactions. Every time the battery recharged the byproduct called solid electrolyte interphase grew. Capping the lithium, it tore holes in the separator, creating openings for metal deposits to spread and form a short. Together, the lithium deposits and the byproduct were much more destructive than previously believed, acting less like a needle and more like a snowplow.

    “The separator is completely shredded,” Harrison said, adding that this mechanism has only been observed under fast charging rates needed for electric vehicle technologies, but not slower charging rates.

    As Sandia scientists think about how to modify separator materials, Harrison says that further research also will be needed to reduce the formation of byproducts.

    Scientists pair lasers with cryogenics to take ‘cool’ images

    Determining cause-of-death for a coin battery is surprisingly difficult. The trouble comes from its stainless-steel casing. The metal shell limits what diagnostics, like X-rays, can see from the outside, while removing parts of the cell for analysis rips apart the battery’s layers and distorts whatever evidence might be inside.

    “We have different tools that can study different components of a battery, but really we haven’t had a tool that can resolve everything in one image,” said Katie Jungjohann, a Sandia nanoscale imaging scientist at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies. The center is a user facility jointly operated by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.

    She and her collaborators used a microscope that has a laser to mill through a battery’s outer casing. They paired it with a sample holder that keeps the cell’s liquid electrolyte frozen at temperatures between minus 148 and minus 184 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 100 and minus 120 degrees Celsius, respectively). The laser creates an opening just large enough for a narrow electron beam to enter and bounce back onto a detector, delivering a high-resolution image of the battery’s internal cross section with enough detail to distinguish the different materials.

    The original demonstration instrument, which was the only such tool in the United States at the time, was built and still resides at a Thermo Fisher Scientific laboratory in Oregon. An updated duplicate now resides at Sandia. The tool will be used broadly across Sandia to help solve many materials and failure-analysis problems.

    “This is what battery researchers have always wanted to see,” Jungjohann said.

    The research was funded by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and the Department of Energy.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 9:37 am on June 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Setting gold and platinum standards where few have gone before", , , , DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US),   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) and From DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (US) : “Setting gold and platinum standards where few have gone before” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    and

    From DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (US)

    June 24, 2021

    Neal Singer
    nsinger@sandia.gov
    505-977-7255

    Extreme pressure at DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) and DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.

    1
    Eight gold samples, four per panel, prior to assembly of the panels into a “stripline” target for Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine. There they were vaporized by the enormous pressures produced by Z’s 20-million-ampere current pulse. This arrangement will permit four measurements, one for each pair of samples in which one pair is on each panel at the same position Photo: Leo Molina.

    Like two superheroes finally joining forces, Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine — generator of the world’s most powerful electrical pulses [below]— and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility [below] — the planet’s most energetic laser source — in a series of 10 experiments have detailed the responses of gold and platinum at pressures so extreme that their atomic structures momentarily distorted like images in a fun-house mirror.

    Similar high-pressure changes induced in other settings have produced oddities like hydrogen appearing as a metallic fluid, helium in the form of rain and sodium a transparent metal. But until now there has been no way to accurately calibrate these pressures and responses, the first step to controlling them.

    Said Sandia manager Chris Seagle, an author of a technical paper recently published by the journal Science, “Our experiments are designed to measure these distortions in gold and platinum as a function of time. Compression gives us a measurement of pressure versus density.”

    Following experiments on the two big machines, researchers developed tables of gold and platinum responses to extreme pressure. “These will provide a standard to help future researchers calibrate the responses of other metals under similar stress,” said Jean-Paul Davis, another paper author and Sandia’s lead scientist in the effort to reliably categorize extreme data.

    Data generated by experiments at these pressures — roughly 1.2 terapascals (a terapascal is 1 trillion pascals), an amount of pressure relevant to nuclear explosions — can aid understanding the composition of exoplanets, the effects and results of planetary impacts, and how the moon formed.

    2
    The complete target assembly inside Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine for the high-pressure materials experiments coordinated with researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The samples are covered by probes. Photo: Leo Molina.

    The technical unit called the pascal is so small it is often seen in its multiples of thousands, millions, billions or trillions. It may be easier to visualize the scale of these effects in terms of atmospheric pressure units. The center of the Earth is approximately 3.6 million times the atmospheric pressure at sea level, or 3.6 million atmospheres. Z’s data reached 4 million atmospheres, or four million times atmospheric pressure at sea level, while the National Ignition Facility reached 12 million atmospheres.

    The force of the diamond anvil

    Remarkably, such pressures can be generated in the laboratory by a simple compression device called a diamond anvil.

    However, “We have no standards for these extreme pressure ranges,” said Davis. “While investigators see interesting events, they are hampered in comparing them with each other because what one researcher presents at 1.1 terapascals is only 0.9 on another researcher’s scale.”

    What’s needed is an underlying calibration tool, such as the numerical table these experiments helped to create, he said, so that scientists are talking about results achieved at the same documented amounts of pressure.

    “The Z-NIF experiments will provide this,” Davis said.

    The overall experiments, under the direction of Lawrence Livermore researcher D. E. Fratanduono, relied on Z machine’s accuracy as a check on NIF’s power.

    Z’s accuracy, NIF’s power

    Z’s force is created by its powerful shockless magnetic field, generated for hundreds of nanoseconds by its 20 million-ampere pulse. For comparison, a 120-watt bulb uses one ampere.

    The accuracy of this method refocused the higher pressures achieved using NIF methods.

    NIF’s pressures exceeded those at the core of the planet Saturn, which is 850 gigapascals. But its laser-compression experiments sometimes required a small shock at the start of the compression wave, raising the material’s temperature, which can distort measurements intended to set a standard.

    “The point of shockless compression is to keep the temperature relatively low for the materials being studied,” said Seagle. “Basically the material does heat as it compresses, but it should remain relatively cool — hundreds of degrees — even at terapascal pressures. Initial heating is a troublesome start.”

    Another reason that Z, which contributed half the number of “shots,” or firings, and about one-third the data, was considered the standard for results up to 400 gigapascals was because Z’s sample size was roughly 10 times as big: 600 to 1,600 microns thick compared with 60 to 90 microns on NIF. A micron is a thousandth of a millimeter.

    Larger samples, slower pulses equal easier measurements

    “Because they were larger, Z’s samples were less sensitive to the microstructure of the material than were NIF’s,” said Davis. “Larger samples and slower pulses are simply easier to measure to high relative precision. Combining the two facilities really tightly constrained the standards.”

    Combining Z and NIF data meant that the higher-accuracy, but lower-intensity Z data could be used to pin down the low-to-medium pressure response, and with mathematical adjustments, reduce error on the higher-pressure NIF data.

    “The purpose of this study was to produce highly accurate pressure models to approximately one terapascal. We did that, so this combination of facilities has been advantageous,” said Seagle.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

    DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) (US) is an American federal research facility in Livermore, California, United States, founded by the University of California-Berkeley (US) in 1952. A Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), it is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and managed and operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS), a partnership of the University of California, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, AECOM, and Battelle Memorial Institute in affiliation with the Texas A&M University System (US). In 2012, the laboratory had the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it.

    LLNL is self-described as “a premier research and development institution for science and technology applied to national security.” Its principal responsibility is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons through the application of advanced science, engineering and technology. The Laboratory also applies its special expertise and multidisciplinary capabilities to preventing the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, bolstering homeland security and solving other nationally important problems, including energy and environmental security, basic science and economic competitiveness.

    The Laboratory is located on a one-square-mile (2.6 km^2) site at the eastern edge of Livermore. It also operates a 7,000 acres (28 km2) remote experimental test site, called Site 300, situated about 15 miles (24 km) southeast of the main lab site. LLNL has an annual budget of about $1.5 billion and a staff of roughly 5,800 employees.

    LLNL was established in 1952 as the University of California Radiation Laboratory at Livermore, an offshoot of the existing UC Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley. It was intended to spur innovation and provide competition to the nuclear weapon design laboratory at Los Alamos in New Mexico, home of the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic weapons. Edward Teller and Ernest Lawrence, director of the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley, are regarded as the co-founders of the Livermore facility.

    The new laboratory was sited at a former naval air station of World War II. It was already home to several UC Radiation Laboratory projects that were too large for its location in the Berkeley Hills above the UC campus, including one of the first experiments in the magnetic approach to confined thermonuclear reactions (i.e. fusion). About half an hour southeast of Berkeley, the Livermore site provided much greater security for classified projects than an urban university campus.

    Lawrence tapped 32-year-old Herbert York, a former graduate student of his, to run Livermore. Under York, the Lab had four main programs: Project Sherwood (the magnetic-fusion program), Project Whitney (the weapons-design program), diagnostic weapon experiments (both for the DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory(US) and Livermore laboratories), and a basic physics program. York and the new lab embraced the Lawrence “big science” approach, tackling challenging projects with physicists, chemists, engineers, and computational scientists working together in multidisciplinary teams. Lawrence died in August 1958 and shortly after, the university’s board of regents named both laboratories for him, as the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory.

    Historically, the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (US) and Livermore laboratories have had very close relationships on research projects, business operations, and staff. The Livermore Lab was established initially as a branch of the Berkeley laboratory. The Livermore lab was not officially severed administratively from the Berkeley lab until 1971. To this day, in official planning documents and records, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is designated as Site 100, Lawrence Livermore National Lab as Site 200, and LLNL’s remote test location as Site 300.

    The laboratory was renamed Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (LLL) in 1971. On October 1, 2007 LLNS assumed management of LLNL from the University of California, which had exclusively managed and operated the Laboratory since its inception 55 years before. The laboratory was honored in 2012 by having the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it. The LLNS takeover of the laboratory has been controversial. In May 2013, an Alameda County jury awarded over $2.7 million to five former laboratory employees who were among 430 employees LLNS laid off during 2008.The jury found that LLNS breached a contractual obligation to terminate the employees only for “reasonable cause.” The five plaintiffs also have pending age discrimination claims against LLNS, which will be heard by a different jury in a separate trial.[6] There are 125 co-plaintiffs awaiting trial on similar claims against LLNS. The May 2008 layoff was the first layoff at the laboratory in nearly 40 years.

    On March 14, 2011, the City of Livermore officially expanded the city’s boundaries to annex LLNL and move it within the city limits. The unanimous vote by the Livermore city council expanded Livermore’s southeastern boundaries to cover 15 land parcels covering 1,057 acres (4.28 km^2) that comprise the LLNL site. The site was formerly an unincorporated area of Alameda County. The LLNL campus continues to be owned by the federal government.

    LLNL/NIF

    DOE Seal

    NNSA

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 10:01 am on June 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Using a mineral ‘sponge’ to catch uranium", A “sponge-like” mineral that can “soak up” uranium., All forms of uranium are radioactive and it is toxic when ingested., , Calcium apatite, , DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), , , , The apatite-based approach for uranium remediation has been by far the most effective and long-lasting without any significant negative side effects., There are thousands of sites around the world that are contaminated with radioactive elements.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Using a mineral ‘sponge’ to catch uranium” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    June 9, 2021

    Mollie Rappe
    mrappe@sandia.gov
    505-228-6123

    1
    A graphical illustration of the apatite remediation test to absorb uranium conducted by Sandia, Lawrence Berkeley and Pacific Northwest national laboratories researchers. (Graphic by Sandia National Laboratories.)

    A team of researchers from Sandia, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (US) and DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US) tested a “sponge-like” mineral that can “soak up” uranium at a former uranium mill near Rifle, Colorado.

    The researchers found that the mineral, calcium apatite, soaks up and binds uranium from the groundwater, reducing it by more than ten-thousandfold.

    “The apatite technology has successfully reduced the concentration of uranium, vanadium and molybdenum in the groundwater at the Rifle site,” said Mark Rigali, the Sandia geochemist leading the project. “Moreover, the levels of uranium have remained below the Department of Energy’s target concentration for more than three years.”

    The contaminated mill site near Rifle is about 180 miles west of Denver. Since 2002, the DOE’s Office of Legacy Management has used the site to test a variety of different uranium-remediation technologies.

    All forms of uranium are radioactive and it is toxic when ingested. Molybdenum and vanadium, on the other hand, are beneficial at very, very low levels, but are toxic at high concentrations. While the Rifle test site is remote, there are thousands of sites around the world that are similarly contaminated with radioactive elements and heavy metals that threaten groundwater, surface water and food supplies.

    Calcium apatite is a mineral commonly used in fertilizer and is also a major component of bones and teeth. The researchers formed a “sponge” in the ground by injecting two inexpensive and nontoxic chemicals, calcium citrate and sodium phosphate, into a well especially designed for injecting solutions underground at the former uranium mill.

    Once in the ground, helpful soil bacteria ate the calcium citrate and excreted calcium in a form that allows it to rapidly react with the sodium phosphate to form calcium apatite, which coated sand and soil particles underground, forming the sponge. The apatite sponge captures contaminants, such as uranium, as it forms on the soil particles around the injection well, and afterward as the groundwater flows through the rough sponge. Once formed, the apatite is incredibly stable, and can hold onto captured contaminants for millennia.

    Soaking up half of the periodic table

    “The apatite-based approach for uranium remediation has been by far the most effective and long-lasting without any significant negative side effects,” said Ken Williams, the environmental remediation and water resources program lead at Lawrence Berkeley. “It’s basically been a win-win-win situation. The first win is the ease of operation with only one injection needed. The next win is uranium being removed to incredibly low levels. The third win is the lack of significant deleterious consequences.”

    Williams has been testing different uranium remediation techniques at the Rifle site for more than a decade, since he was a graduate student. As a student, he was involved in a project at the site where they fed soil bacteria vinegar to remediate uranium that had some unfortunate side effects.

    The apatite remediation technology was invented by former Sandia chemical engineer Robert Moore. It has been used at the DOE’s Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state to protect the Columbia River from strontium-90, another radioactive isotope.

    Geologists know that apatite can capture elements from more than half of the periodic table of elements, Rigali said, but the team conducted initial laboratory-based tests to confirm apatite would bind dissolved uranium. These tests were conducted by Jim Szecsody, a geochemist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

    In addition to reducing the amount of uranium in groundwater more than ten-thousandfold, Williams and Rigali found that the apatite reduced the amount of vanadium by more than a hundredfold. Vanadium is another contaminant left over from uranium milling, along with molybdenum, selenium and arsenic. Auspiciously, the apatite-based remediation technology captures these other toxic chemicals too, they said.

    The future of apatite remediation

    Computer modeling by Sandia geoscientist Pat Brady suggests that the uranium will remain contained within the apatite mineral for tens of thousands of years — possibly longer than the mill site flood plain will remain in its current location adjacent to the Colorado River, Rigali said.

    Williams will continue measuring the amount of contaminants in the groundwater downstream of the apatite sponge every month until the sponge is “full.” This will allow the research team to learn how much uranium and other contaminants the apatite can hold, and when the sponge would need to be “refreshed” with more apatite, he said.

    The apatite technology is being considered for use at several other contaminated locations, both federally managed and privately owned, said Rigali. Also increasing the potential applicability of apatite remediation is the fact that it can be “tuned” to capture different contaminants of concern including lead and arsenic.

    “The apatite family of minerals is very large,” he added. “And they all have varying abilities to capture and store contaminants. You can literally tune the structure of apatite to go after specific contaminants of concern.”

    Copper apatite, for example, is a great sponge for arsenic.

    “This has been one of the most rewarding projects that I’ve gotten to work on at Sandia,” Rigali said. “It’s great to have these types of opportunities because you feel like you’re doing something that is solving a problem and making a difference. I know this technology could be used at dozens of sites for uranium remediation.”

    The test in Rifle was funded by DOE’s Office of Legacy Management, while the development of original apatite remediation technology was supported by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 10:57 am on June 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "World’s smallest and best acoustic amplifier emerges from 50-year-old hypothesis", Acousto-electric devices reveal new road to miniaturizing wireless tech., DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US),   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “World’s smallest and best acoustic amplifier emerges from 50-year-old hypothesis” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    June 2, 2021

    Troy Rummler
    trummle@sandia.gov
    505-249-3632

    Acousto-electric devices reveal new road to miniaturizing wireless tech.

    1
    Scientists Matt Eichenfield, left, and Lisa Hackett led the team at Sandia National Laboratories that created the world’s smallest and best acoustic amplifier. Photo by Bret Latter.

    Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories have built the world’s smallest and best acoustic amplifier. And they did it using a concept that was all but abandoned for almost 50 years.

    According to a paper published May 13 in Nature Communications, the device is more than 10 times more effective than the earlier versions. The design and future research directions hold promise for smaller wireless technology.

    Modern cell phones are packed with radios to send and receive phone calls, text messages and high-speed data. The more radios in a device, the more it can do. While most radio components, including amplifiers, are electronic, they can potentially be made smaller and better as acoustic devices. This means they would use sound waves instead of electrons to process radio signals.

    “Acoustic wave devices are inherently compact because the wavelengths of sound at these frequencies are so small — smaller than the diameter of human hair,” Sandia scientist Lisa Hackett said. But until now, using sound waves has been impossible for many of these components.

    Sandia’s acoustic, 276-megahertz amplifier, measuring a mere 0.0008 square inch (0.5 square millimeter), demonstrates the vast, largely untapped potential for making radios smaller through acoustics. To amplify 2 gigahertz frequencies, which carry much of modern cell phone traffic, the device would be even smaller, 0.00003 square inch (0.02 square millimeter), a footprint that would comfortably fit inside a grain of table salt and is more than 10 times smaller than current state-of-the-art technologies.

    The team also created the first acoustic circulator, another crucial radio component that separates transmitted and received signals. Together, the petite parts represent an essentially uncharted path toward making all technologies that send and receive information with radio waves smaller and more sophisticated, said Sandia scientist Matt Eichenfield.

    “We are the first to show that it’s practical to make the functions that are normally being done in the electronic domain in the acoustic domain,” Eichenfield said.

    Resurrecting a decades-old design

    Scientists tried making acoustic radio-frequency amplifiers decades ago, but the last major academic papers from these efforts were published in the 1970s.

    Without modern nanofabrication technologies, their devices performed too poorly to be useful. Boosting a signal by a factor of 100 with the old devices required 0.4 inch (1 centimeter) of space and 2,000 volts of electricity. They also generated lots of heat, requiring more than 500 milliwatts of power.

    The new and improved amplifier is more than 10 times as effective as the versions built in the ‘70s in a few ways. It can boost signal strength by a factor of 100 in 0.008 inch (0.2 millimeter) with only 36 volts of electricity and 20 milliwatts of power.

    2
    An acousto-electric chip, top, produced at Sandia National Laboratories includes a radio-frequency amplifier, circulator and filter. An image taken by scanning electron microscopy shows details of the amplifier. Photo by Bret Latter. Microscopy image courtesy of Matt Eichenfield.

    Previous researchers hit a dead end trying to enhance acoustic devices, which are not capable of amplification or circulation on their own, by using layers of semiconductor materials. For their concept to work well, the added material must be very thin and very high quality, but scientists only had techniques to make one or the other.

    Decades later, Sandia developed techniques to do both in order to improve photovoltaic cells by adding a series of thin layers of semiconducting materials. The Sandia scientist leading that effort happened to share an office with Eichenfield.

    “I had some pretty heavy peripheral exposure. I heard about it all the time in my office,” Eichenfield said. “So fast forward probably three years later, I was reading these papers out of curiosity about this acousto-electric amplifier work and reading about what they tried to do, and I realized that this work that Sandia had done to develop these techniques for essentially taking very, very thin semiconductors and transferring them onto other materials was exactly what we would need to make these devices realize all their promise.”

    Sandia made its amplifier with semiconductor materials that are 83 layers of atoms thick — 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.

    Fusing an ultrathin semiconducting layer onto a dissimilar acoustic device took an intricate process of growing crystals on top of other crystals, bonding them to yet other crystals and then chemically removing 99.99% of the materials to produce a perfectly smooth contact surface. Nanofabrication methods like this are collectively called heterogeneous integration and are a research area of growing interest at Sandia’s Microsystems Engineering, Science and Applications complex and throughout the semiconductor industry.

    Amplifiers, circulators and filters are normally produced separately because they are dissimilar technologies, but Sandia produced them all on the same acousto-electric chip. The more technologies that can be made on the same chip, the simpler and more efficient manufacturing becomes. The team’s research shows that the remaining radio signal processing components could conceivably be made as extensions of the devices already demonstrated.

    Work was funded by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, a user facility jointly operated by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.

    So how long until these petite radio parts are inside your phone? Probably not for a while, Eichenfield said. Converting mass-produced, commercial products like cell phones to all acousto-electric technology would require a massive overhaul of the manufacturing infrastructure, he said. But for small productions of specialized devices, the technology holds more immediate promise.

    The Sandia team is now exploring whether they can adapt their technology to improve all-optical signal processing, too. They are also interested in finding out if the technology can help isolate and manipulate single quanta of sound, called phonons, which would potentially make it useful for controlling and making measurements in some quantum computers.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.


    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on May 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Experimental Impact Mechanics Lab bars none", , , Bo Song at Sandia, DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), Evaluating the impact properties of any solid natural or manmade material on the planet., Hopkinson Bar, Kolsky Bar, , , Nearly a third of the lab’s customers come from outside Sandia., One-of-a-kind materials testing facility built from scratch., There’s a tiny hidden gem at Sandia that tests the strength and evaluates the impact properties of any solid natural or manmade material on the planet.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “Experimental Impact Mechanics Lab bars none” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    May 21, 2021

    One-of-a-kind materials testing facility built from scratch.

    1
    BRACING FOR IMPACT — Sandia mechanical engineer Bo Song makes adjustments to the Drop-Hopkinson Bar, the only one of its kind in the world.

    There’s a tiny hidden gem at Sandia that tests the strength and evaluates the impact properties of any solid natural or manmade material on the planet.

    From its humble beginnings as a small storage room, mechanical engineer Bo Song has built a singular Experimental Impact Mechanics Lab that packs a world-class punch in 200-plus square feet of weights, rods, cables, bars, heaters, compressors and high-speed cameras.

    Over the past eight years, Bo has overseen the growth of the lab’s instrumentation, capabilities, staff and clientele, based on his work and ideas formed at other labs.

    “We didn’t start from the ground up, but close to it,” Bo said. “I began with a small budget and limited tech support, but thankfully the lab was already conducting systems evaluation and technology development projects for Sandia and the National Nuclear Security Administration. With the assistance of a couple high-level technologists, we have built up the testing apparatus in that storage room.”

    Bo says his groundbreaking work in experimental impact mechanics and evaluating the dynamic response of materials to temperature and pressure is quickly positioning the lab as a premiere facility in materials assessment for national security programs, defense contractors and private industry.

    The lab also serves as a primary test facility for small-scale components and subassemblies, conducting feasibility studies that enable its customers to confidently proceed with full-scale projects. Nearly 70% of the lab’s work is for programs in nuclear deterrence, advanced science and technology and global security.

    Bo takes pride in welcoming all comers. Nearly a third of the lab’s customers come from outside Sandia, ranging from the Department of Defense and NASA to outside organizations and industry.

    “There’s no material we cannot test,” he said. “We evaluate the nature, properties and strength of materials and how they change in different testing configurations or conditions. In the end, our customers receive a breakdown of material properties, and our materials experts provide counsel on how to improve the customer’s material design and selection.”

    2
    AIMING THE GUN — Bo Song, who developed the lab, places material for shock testing in the center of a Kolsky bar. When a gas gun is fired, the bar closes at the speed of a bullet train to assess how the material responds to stress and strain.

    Under myriad combinations of controlled temperatures, pressures and velocities, the lab conducts pure research and development on the mechanics of materials under extreme conditions with remarkable precision.

    In meticulous concert, the lab’s instrumentation crushes, compacts, twists, pulls and stretches materials under various controlled states of hot and cold to assess their pliability, durability and reliability. Materials range from rock and concrete to metal alloys to ceramics, plastics, rubbers and foams.

    The lab’s crown jewel is its 1-inch-diameter Drop-Hopkinson bar with a carriage of up to 300 pounds — the only one of its kind in the world — used to measure the tensile properties of materials under low to intermediate impact velocities. The unique apparatus can simulate accidental drop or low-speed crash environments for evaluating various materials used in national security programs and private industry alike.

    Central to the lab’s testing capabilities are two 1-inch diameter, 30-foot long steel or aluminum Kolsky bars driven pneumatically to speeds of a bullet train in either compression or tension mode. The bars are named after Herbert Kolsky, who in 1949 refined a technique by Bertram Hopkinson for testing the dynamic stress-strain response of materials. Another 3-inch-diameter steel bar is used for mechanical shock tests on large-size material samples or components.

    In all these bars, samples of materials are placed in the center of the apparatus and stress waves are activated through a gas gun. Custom-made sensors were developed in the lab to measure the force being applied and displacement of the material being tested.

    The lab also is fitted with an environmental chamber and induction heater that can take temperatures up to 1,200 degrees C (2,192 degrees F, or roughly the temperature of lava in a volcano) or down to minus 150 degrees C (minus 238 degrees F, or about four times colder than the average temperature at the South Pole) to test materials under extreme conditions. “We designed and built a computer-controlled Kolsky bar that uses a furnace and robotic arm to precisely heat and place the material for testing,” Bo said.

    When the specimen has reached the proper temperature, the robotic arm retracts and positions the sample, a mechanical slider moves the transmission bar so that the sample is in contact with both bars, and then the striker bar is fired to compress the sample. All this takes fewer than 10 milliseconds, or about one-tenth the time of an eye blink.

    To measure the displacement, strain and temperature of material during impact, an optical table is rigged with a high-speed camera that collects optical images at up to 5 million frames per second. An infrared camera measures heat at up to 100,000 frames per second.

    “This is a dynamic lab that we’re continually designing to meet our customers’ needs,” Bo said. “We love the challenges they bring to us.”

    Picking up ideas along the way

    3
    BANG! — Upon impact, custom-made sensors measure the force being applied and displacement of the material being tested.

    The lab’s successes haven’t come easy. Bo has used all his 30-plus years of education and experience in experimental impact materials testing to build and customize the Sandia lab.

    His introduction to the Hopkinson Bar, the predecessor to the Kolsky Bar, came by happenstance as a student at the University of Science and Technology [中国科学技术大学] (CN) at Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院](CN), a national research university and China’s equivalent to the Ivy League. A professor who was starting a new impact mechanics lab asked Bo to be his first full-time student. “I didn’t even know what a Hopkinson Bar was at the time,” he said.

    But he accepted the offer, grateful for the opportunity. He was equally grateful for his education, which was not guaranteed in China.

    “My parents didn’t have the benefit of attending a university,” Bo said. “But they knew the value and importance of education in how I could explore ideas and people. My parents understood that the key to my future was to be well-educated, so they sent me to good schools and supported me getting a doctorate.”

    While some doors opened for Bo, he actively sought others. After earning his doctorate, he began to survey his career options outside China. He searched in the U.S., Australia and Europe and ultimately landed at the University of Arizona (US) in Tucson as a postdoctoral researcher in a material dynamic testing lab. Bo spent four years there and when the entire lab moved to Purdue University (US) in Indiana, he moved with it.

    At the universities of Arizona and Purdue, Bo was working on several Department of Defense materials testing projects that included Sandia. The more he worked with colleagues from the labs, the more he became interested in Sandia. He applied for and accepted a position with Sandia/California in 2008. Five years, a wife and two kids later, he found his way to New Mexico.

    Bo credits his University of China mentor for teaching him more than technical know how. “He also was instrumental in showing me how a lab functions as a business and how to cultivate connections,” Bo said. “In my first three months in New Mexico, I never sat in my office. I was either in the lab conducting tests and building our capabilities or I was knocking on Sandia doors looking for collaborators and connections.”

    Today, the lab’s original national security mission has expanded to include geological materials, small business support, automotive technology and more.

    “There are not many labs around the world that can do what we do,” Bo said. “We’re becoming known as one of the leading facilities globally in experimental impact mechanics.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.

    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 10:46 am on May 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "After 40 years Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility still driving toward the future", , , Chemical Kinetics-a software package written to calculate combustion chemistry and now used by industry around the world., DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), Ducted fuel injection to fine-tune the fuel-air mixture in diesel engines by controlling the flow of fuel into the combustion cylinder., Ion imaging developed in the late 1980s at the California facility uses powerful lasers to ionize gas molecules and projects the resultant ions onto a two-dimensional detector., , Rapid Reduction of Nitrogen Oxides to help clean up engine emissions.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “After 40 years Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility still driving toward the future” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    May 18, 2021

    Michael Langley
    mlangle@sandia.gov
    925-294-1482

    The weather on March 6, 1981, was nothing too remarkable for the San Francisco Bay Area — a little drizzle with temperatures in the 50s and fairly calm wind.

    The remarkable event that day was taking place on Sandia National Laboratories’ California campus, but even those who participated in the opening of the newly built Combustion Research Facility had no idea how much that institution would change the world.

    1
    Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility.

    2
    The Combustion Research Facility on the California campus of Sandia National Laboratories opened March 6, 1981. Credit: Sandia National Laboratories.

    “There isn’t a single modern vehicle on the road today that hasn’t benefitted from the work done at the CRF,” said Bob Carling, who spent 27 years doing research at the facility.

    “It was designed to provide an understanding of combustion in response to the energy crisis,” explained Craig Taatjes, who supervises physical sciences research at Sandia, referring to the 1970s oil embargo by members of OPEC that drove a surge in gasoline prices and a supply shortage in the United States. At that time, the nation had grown increasingly dependent upon imported oil and needed to find ways to be more energy self-sufficient.

    “The other part of the vision was that it be a collaborative facility where researchers from around the world could participate, teach us and learn from us,” Taatjes added. “One of the big visions was to bring together the applied offices and fundamental offices in one place.”

    Senior manager Chris Shaddix, who headed energy and transportation sciences before being recently appointed to manager another department at Sandia, said that having applied science researchers and fundamental scientists under one roof meant that sometimes the applied scientists would modify techniques to work in their environment.

    “That would lead to new insights that were useful to doing more fundamental studies. That was a common thread,” Shaddix said.

    Center of innovation

    There is a list of technological advances that didn’t exist before researchers at CRF invented or began using them in new ways.

    Ion imaging developed in the late 1980s at the California facility uses powerful lasers to ionize gas molecules and projects the resultant ions onto a two-dimensional detector. The position that the ions strike on the detector reflects the speed and direction the molecules were traveling when they were ionized, information that can be used to understand the details of the chemical reactions that formed the molecules. The technique was a new method for understanding fundamental chemical physics processes that had never before been documented.

    “That ion imaging is used in hundreds of labs around the world now,” pointed out Sarah Allendorf, CRF’s director, “and is a foundation for other types of experiments that have expanded our understanding of gas phase chemistry.”

    Other technologies also developed at CRF include: Chemical Kinetics-a software package written to calculate combustion chemistry and now used by industry around the world; a process called Rapid Reduction of Nitrogen Oxides to help clean up engine emissions; as well as using photo-ionization mass spectrometry to unravel complex combustion chemistry and atmospheric chemistry.

    “And most recently ducted fuel injection is the big one,” Taatjes said of the technology being developed by researcher Charles Mueller to fine-tune the fuel-air mixture in diesel engines by controlling the flow of fuel into the combustion cylinder.

    “It’s offering essentially an elimination of soot from diesel engines, which would be a huge, huge breakthrough,” Shaddix added.

    Assisting American industrial development

    Carling recalls how other breakthroughs drove innovation at Sandia and in the private sector.

    “It took a while for the engine companies to really understand the value of what we can provide them as they design these engines,” he said. “As time went on, they became more and more dependent upon understanding what was going on inside the cylinder which we were uncovering.”

    Those business partnerships extended beyond engine makers, driving innovation across sectors including steelmaking, glassmaking and energy production.

    “They do work in their own labs, where we’ve done the pre-competitive research that is shared publicly, and they will go do specialized, proprietary research,” Allendorf explained. “The state of American industrial research has changed massively in the last 40 years. Many of those industries had their own research labs, which we would complement. Many of those research labs just don’t exist anymore. Our pre-competitive work allows our industrial partners to focus their precious research dollars on the pieces that is their competitive advantage.”

    All of this is just the tip of the iceberg keeping the CRF relevant in the 21st century and driving innovations in the future.

    “It’s safe to say that every group of researchers that’s ever been at CRF has essentially been world leaders at what they do,” Shaddix said. “We expect that actually at CRF. After a few years at Sandia, we expect you to be a world leader at what you do.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.

    ASCI Red Storm Cray superrcomputer at DOE’s Sandia National Laboratory

    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    Sandia Z machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
  • richardmitnick 1:00 pm on April 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A song of ice and fiber", , DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US), , , Sandia National Laboratories researchers are beginning to analyze the first seafloor dataset from under Arctic sea ice using a novel method.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) : “A song of ice and fiber” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US)

    April 8, 2021

    Manette Fisher
    mfisher@sandia.gov
    505-238-5832

    1
    A rare, peaceful sunrise at Oliktok Point during the first week of February, when Sandia National Laboratories researchers began collecting the first-ever dataset from the Arctic seafloor using distributed acoustic sensing and a fiber optic cable. To listen to and download a clip of a suspected ice quake captured during the first experiment. Credit: Kyle Jones.

    Sandia National Laboratories researchers are beginning to analyze the first seafloor dataset from under Arctic sea ice using a novel method. They were able to capture ice quakes and transportation activities on the North Slope of Alaska while also monitoring for other climate signals and marine life.

    The team, led by Sandia geophysicist Rob Abbott, connected an iDAS, a distributed acoustic sensing interrogator system manufactured by Silixa, to an existing fiber optic cable owned by Quintillion, an Alaska-based telecommunications company. The cable reaches the seafloor from Oliktok Point. For seven days, 24 hours a day, cable vibrations were captured and recorded, helping researchers better understand what natural and human-caused activity takes place within the data-starved ocean.

    This is the first time a distributed acoustic sensing interrogator system had been used to capture data on the seafloor of the Arctic or Antarctic oceans, and the team sees many advantages for future use.

    “This is a first-of-its-kind data collect, and as far as what national laboratories do, this is exactly the type of high-risk, high-reward research that could make a huge difference in how we’re able to monitor the Arctic Ocean,” said Sandia manager Kyle Jones. “This really is on the cutting edge of seismology and geophysics, along with climate change and other disciplines.”

    The team is expecting to record climate signals like the timing and distribution of sea ice breakup, ocean wave height, sea ice thickness, fault zones and storm severity. Shipping, whale songs and breaching can also be recorded. This new way of monitoring holds the potential to persistently capture a wide variety of Arctic phenomena in a cost-effective and safe manner so that scientists can better understand the effects of climate change on this fragile environment, Abbott said.

    The interrogator looks like an electronic box that can be attached to the fiber optic cable on land, and it uses a laser to send thousands of short pulses of light along the cable every second. A small proportion of that light is reflected back — or backscattered — along the cable as the seafloor it’s attached to moves due to earth, sea ice, ocean current and animal activities. The backscattered light enables the interrogator to detect, monitor and track events along the fiber, and data is stored on hard drives.

    “Quintillion’s fiber optic cable is in a favorable place on the North Slope of Alaska,” Abbott said. “This technology works for this project for several reasons. We are not sending a boat out to plant monitors; we’re not traipsing over the sea ice trying to install sensors. This cable will exist for decades and we can take good data on it. It’s a very safe way of taking this measurement in a hazardous environment.”

    Funded by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program, this was the first of eight week-long data collection that will happen over the next two years during the project. The team will visit Alaska in each of the four Arctic seasons defined as ice-bound, ice-free, freezing and thawing. A third year will be spent further analyzing data.

    Abbott said results will be communicated with the broader scientific community and will be provided to the climate modeling community for inclusion in algorithms. Additionally, the team hopes the results of the project will show the need for persistent distributed acoustic sensing monitoring in the Arctic.

    “We’d like to provide data to high-fidelity climate models and raw data analysis,” Abbott said. “I’m also hoping to conduct a direct measurement of sea ice thickness, which is currently difficult. Right now, you need an airplane flying over or you need to go out on the ice. That can be very dangerous and expensive, and you can only do it once or twice a year. Using a fiber optic cable, the distributed acoustic sensing system could be out there 24/7/365 and you could potentially take a sea ice thickness measurement once per day.”

    Encouraging data captured in first 168 hours

    Sandia researchers are just starting to analyze the first 168 hours of data collected in February, and they are encouraged by what they see, Abbott said.

    “We see things that are indicative of ice quakes. We see events as far out as 33 kilometers in the ocean where there should be no anthropogenic activity,” he said, referring to the first two hours of data he’d looked at. “We’re certainly seeing a natural event of some sort. It could be an ice quake, or it could be a micro-seismic event in the ground like an earthquake. We’re not sure yet.”

    Closer to shore, Abbott said the team most likely recorded production and reinjection wells recycling wastewater and frequencies that are indicative of ocean tides and currents. One surprising result was the system picking up frequencies of a low-flying hover craft.

    The interrogator can record events at a spatial density of three to four orders-of-magnitude greater than traditional hydrophone or ocean bottom seismometer deployments, Abbott said.

    “In this first data collect, we weren’t expecting to see a lot of currents and ice quakes because there was stable ice cover over the entire area, and yet we do see some of those things, which is exciting,” Abbott said.

    Abbott said he’s looking forward to capturing data on whales and seals during the migrating season. The Arctic is home to bowhead and beluga whales, each having individual songs. The system should be able to record these songs in the same manner as recording earthquakes because vibrations in the ocean are transmitted to the earth, which is then transmitted to the cable. With whales, a characteristic pattern develops as the song changes pitch.

    “It’s called gliding, where over time, the frequencies start out low and go high and back down,” Abbott said. “Frequencies like that are characteristic of biological sources and are easily discriminated from other sources, such as earthquakes. Whales often sing for over 30 minutes with individual repeated notes that last a few seconds long that glide up and down.”

    North Slope weather added intensity to experiment’s critical first week

    2
    Sandia National Laboratories geophysicist Rob Abbott said one of the challenges of working in the Arctic is the expected but frigid temperatures. Credit: Kyle Jones.

    The expected but fierce North Slope climate was a challenge. In February, the area is dark about 18 hours of the day and because snow blows much of the time and roads aren’t well marked, everything continues to look new, Abbott said. The team was also dealing with bitter cold, and while they were prepared, temperatures were about 10 degrees colder than expected, at one point dropping to minus 45 Fahrenheit (minus 77 including windchill). Even the people who work there for a living shut down all outdoor activities, Abbott said.

    “The American Arctic is formidable, 30 degrees below zero being a common occurrence in the winter months,” said Michael McHale, Quintillion’s chief revenue officer. “Much of the region is tundra and difficult to traverse in the best of weather. Working here requires significant experience and hard-won expertise. The engineering implications are enormous. Most networks and satellite ground stations do not operate in regions where they need to be able to tolerate 70 degrees below zero.”

    Due to harsh conditions, Quintillion’s fiber optic cable is double-armored with copper and steel sheathing to protect against cutting, crushing or abrasion damage, McHale said.

    “All of the company’s network components, including the cabling, are engineered to withstand the extreme Arctic environment and protect against network outages,” he added. “The subsea portions of the cable are primarily buried below the seabed.”

    Nerves lasted throughout week as successful data collection was uncertain

    The day after the team arrived, researchers met at the Quintillion cable landing facility where the distributed acoustic sensing system was installed with the help of the company. A team member from Silixa, the company Sandia purchased the distributed acoustic sensing system from, was also there to assist.

    Sandia researchers were able to utilize about 30 miles of the subsea fiber optic cabling, McHale said, and setup went smoothly. He added that the project has been a great experience so far.

    “The opportunity to work with some of the most knowledgeable geophysicists and data scientists in the country is exciting and an honor,” he said. “Supporting the work of the scientific community has long been a goal of Quintillion’s. Accomplishing that goal with a client as highly regarded as Sandia Labs exceeded our expectations.”

    During the first few days of the initial collection, there was anticipated nervousness among the team because this was something that hadn’t been done before. While Abbott has used fiber optic cables to record explosions for Sandia, he hadn’t used them on a seabed nor for something this large.

    The interrogator gathers 2 gigabytes of information per minute, and because it’s coming in so fast, it’s difficult to know whether the data is good, Abbott said. After three or four days, the team had indications that the system was working well, and it took the entire week before they felt confident about the experiment.

    “What I’m excited for is we see a lot of interesting phenomena in this data collection, which will probably be the quietest dataset with the fewest amount of ice quakes or wave action,” Abbott said. “Once we start to see the ice break up and icebergs crashing into each other in other seasons when there’s no ice up there at all, we’ll see things better like tides, currents and storms.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus.

    DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (US) managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International), is one of three National Nuclear Security Administration(US) research and development laboratories in the United States. Their primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and high technology. Headquartered in Central New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains, on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Sandia also has a campus in Livermore, California, next to DOE’sLawrence Livermore National Laboratory(US), and a test facility in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

    It is Sandia’s mission to maintain the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, conduct research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and investigate methods for the disposal of the United States’ nuclear weapons program’s hazardous waste.

    Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures. In addition, Sandia is home to a wide variety of research including computational biology; mathematics (through its Computer Science Research Institute); materials science; alternative energy; psychology; MEMS; and cognitive science initiatives.

    Sandia formerly hosted ASCI Red, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers until its recent decommission, and now hosts ASCI Red Storm supercomputer, originally known as Thor’s Hammer.

    ASCI Red Storm Cray superrcomputer at DOE’s Sandia National Laboratory

    Sandia is also home to the Z Machine.

    Sandia Z machine.

    The Z Machine is the largest X-ray generator in the world and is designed to test materials in conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. It is operated by Sandia National Laboratories to gather data to aid in computer modeling of nuclear guns. In December 2016, it was announced that National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, under the direction of Honeywell International, would take over the management of Sandia National Laboratories starting on May 1, 2017.


     
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