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  • richardmitnick 1:17 pm on February 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: LLNL, , From Idea to Startup: Lawrence Livermore’s Tech Transfer, Google Earth, Propel(x), Roger Werne Deputy Director of Industrial Partnerships Office, Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Fame   

    From LLNL: “From Idea to Startup: Lawrence Livermore’s Tech Transfer” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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    Each and every one of us has been touched by our national lab system in more ways than we realize. That’s especially the case with the Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL), whose innovations and cutting edge technologies continue to impact us in surprising ways. They help us parallel park and make our cars safer via crash simulation. They fund satellite imagery of the world around us (does Google Earth ring a bell?). All of these innovations were created by scientists and engineers from LLNL — a lab that boasts an Entrepreneur’s Hall of Fame. Propel(x) had the chance to discuss the triumphs and opportunities that reside in the lab with Roger Werne, Deputy Director of Industrial Partnerships Office, of this technological pioneering lab.

    Propel(x): Talk to us about the founding and the charter of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

    Werne: Livermore was founded in September of 1952 as the second nuclear weapons design lab, Los Alamos being the first, to support the nuclear weapons capabilities of the United States. In more recent years, we have become a national security laboratory. This means that we do the R&D necessary for the federal government to implement national security policy. But, nuclear deterrence, or what’s called the stockpile stewardship program — which is the maintenance and upkeep of the nuclear weapons program of the United States — is still our number one mission. Essentially, any problem the United States has that involves science and technology with a national security flavor tends to be within our mission space. We’re about 6,500 employees right now, with a budget of around $1.7 billion for fiscal year ’17.

    Propel(x): Are the LLNL’s technology transfer efforts tied to the original mission?

    It is the formal mission of the laboratory to take whatever technologies are invented in the course of our national security mission , and get them into the hands of the private sector in order to create value for the US economy. So we do research for purposes of national security, and some of that research has commercial value. It is my job as part of the Industrial Partnerships Office to get technology and know-how out the door, and into the hands of private industry. In this process we deal with large and small companies which are looking for know-how or new technology to license and start-up companies which are looking for a new technology to solve a market-based problem.

    Propel(x): Can you give us few examples of commercial successes?

    Werne: We’ve chronicled our commercial successes through what we call the Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Fame here at Livermore. It includes 19 members who did their early training and development at the laboratory and then transferred their technology to the private sector, which usually led to the building of successful companies. For example, in the mid-80s, John Hallquist developed a computer software code , named DYNA3D. This software modeled the bending, folding, and collapse of metal structures better than anything else available at the time and the automobile industry picked up on this software as a way to do crash simulation. John Hallquist left Livermore and formed a company called Livermore Software Technology Corporation. He commercialized DYNA3D as LS-DYNA, which allows for calculations rather than experiments to evaluate automobile safety under collision conditions. And that code has become the standard in the world for automobile crash simulation. It saves the automobile industry billions of dollars a year in terms of avoided costs. LS-DYNA and Livermore Software Technology Corporation are the pioneers in that field in the entire world.

    Another example involves Walter Scott, a scientist who worked on satellite technology while at LLNL , and concluded that there would be commercial value in satellite imagery looking back down at the Earth yielding valuable information about everything from asset location to crop- information. . He cofounded a company called DigitalGlobe which now provides the imagery for Google Earth.

    Another technology developed at Livermore was Chromosome Painting, which is a molecular diagnostic technique utilizing labeled DNA probes to detect or confirm chromosome abnormalities. It enables the healthcare industry to diagnose and screen to various type of cancer. Chromosome Painting was licensed and commercialized by a series of companies named Imagenetics, Vysis, and now Abbott , and today it is a significant tool in the medical technology quiver. Furthermore, Livermore, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Berkeley, pioneered the human genome program back in the 80s, and Livermore developed tools to characterize chromosome 19. The three Labs can lay legitimate claim to having pioneered the human Genome program.

    Finally, we have a technology called micro-impulse radar, which is a very small, inexpensive radar system that was developed by Tom McEwan an LLNL engineer. It can measure the relative distance and speed between two moving objects very rapidly. LLNL licensed that technology to over 40 companies in a variety of markets including automotive and today, whenever you see an automobile that’s got collision avoidance warning on it or automatic parallel parking, that’s probably the “grandchild” of the Livermore technology. It’s been in the private sector for about 25 years now, and it has revolutionized the safety of automobiles.

    Propel(x): Let’s talk about a newer start-up that we both have connections to called SafeTraces (Note: SafeTraces is a Propel(x) alumnus company).

    Werne: SafeTraces is based on a technology that we call a DNA barcode. It was originally developed for the Department of Homeland Security and is basically a sugar substance with a known DNA signature. It’s being developed by SafeTraces to track our food supply from field to table to ensure food safety. For example, let’s say you are a farmer growing cantaloupes. Each cantaloupe would be sprayed with the DNA barcode in the field. You record the DNA signature for that particular location on that particular product. You then take that product to the marketplace. If there’s ever a problem that arises you can take a sample off of the skin of that cantaloupe and trace it back to where it came from. You can trace its entire history from field to countertop and know exactly what happened to it and where. It currently takes weeks or months to trace a food product back to it’s source. Being able to trace them back to their source rapidly, which is what you can do with SafeTraces, is a significant benefit to the food products industry and to the consumer(http://www.safetraces.com/).

    Propel(x): How do entrepreneurs who are interested in licensing LLNL IP get started?

    Werne: Livermore has raw technology, usually in the form of licensable patents, and we can license those patents to a company, either exclusively or non-exclusively. In working with a company, there are two things we do, i.e. negotiate business terms and conditions for licenses to transfer technology , and cooperative research and development agreements or CRADAs, , which are cooperative research with the private sector, to transfer knowledge and know-how. If an entrepreneur has a particular need for a technology and they want to look at a what Livermore has developed, they can go to our website,https://ipo.llnl.gov/ , and contact one of our Business Development Executives will help them figure out what is relevant to their needs. Then we can invite them to the laboratory, to have more detailed discussions. After discussions, if they are still interested they can begin licensing negotiations. To us, a successful technology transfer is a license or a cooperative research and development agreement which helps transfer our technology or know-how to the private sector.

    Propel(x): What’s the ideal relationship between an entrepreneur and a LLNL scientist at the root of an innovation?

    Werne: An experienced business entrepreneur from the outside — who understands how to develop a company and product and how to attract capital for financing — paired with a Livermore scientist who is the expert on the technology, is the most successful combination for starting a company. For example, when forming a new company, the outside experienced business professional might be the CEO, and the Livermore scientist might be the CTO, and it’s the combination of the two plus some capital from the investment community that is the beginning of a potentially successful company.

    Propel(x): Speaking of capital, how do you work with angel investors and VCs, and what would you like to communicate to them about your efforts?

    Werne: It’s that early stage — from starting the company to the very first investments — that is the critical part for us, and that’s where the angel community comes in, because the angel community tends to be a little more tolerant and willing to put their money down at a much earlier stage in a company’s maturity. We’re searching for angel investors who are a bit daring and an entrepreneur who’s got a vision and knows the market. And then we’ll try to provide a technology and an individual who can carry the technology forward into a product that will have commercial value.

    Propel(x): Lawrence Livermore has had a tremendous impact globally in its technology, and the past has been successful, so we’re wondering how you see the future unfolding and where Lawrence Livermore is going to have tremendous impact in the next 20 years?

    Werne: Livermore has been prominent in high-performance computing over the years. An example of this is the automobile crash simulation that I talked about earlier. It solved a real problem and has had a significant impact on the automobile industry. Furthermore,Computer tools used to help decode the human genome were developed at the national labs as well. From those early days, the field of bioinformatics has evolved which brings significant computing power developed at the Labs to identify pathogens based on genetic comparisons. These tools are being acquired by the private sector and will be further developed and accelerated to improve human health. Over all the national Labs want to transfer our knowledge of high-performance computing to the private sector to maintain U.S. competitiveness. The rest of the world has figured out that high-performance computing is important as well, so it’s going to be a bit of a horse race in that respect.

    The other area where I think we’re going to contribute is nanotechnology and additive manufacturing. The laboratories are significantly involved in additive manufacturing and other forms of microtechnology and nanotechnology in which there will be significant market capabilities developed. But which problems in manufacturing they will actually solve is an open question at this time. Trying to predict what a market need will be 5 or 10 years into the future is extremely difficult. So we develop the technology, present it to the private sector, and then it’s their job to figure out where it might be useful in terms of future applications. We need to know a little bit about the market and the market needs to know a little bit about us, and that’s one of my jobs, to make sure the market knows a little bit about us.

    Propel(x): Is there anything else you would like the readers to know about the Lawrence Livermore National Lab?

    Werne: LLNL, and all of the national labs, are open for business. One of our entrepreneurial advisors, Bob Tilman, who was cofounder of Digital Globe with Walter Scott, called Livermore a “Business friendly technology giant.” I want that to always be true. We are constantly trying to get our technologies in front of the people in the private sector. They understand markets, we understand technologies, and when it comes to finding a technology that will meet a market need, we may be able to help. Technology transfer is a shoulder to shoulder business with a company. You’ve got to be talking constantly and exchanging ideas and needs and capabilities so that somewhere along the line someone will say ,”You know, I think that might work.” And that might be the beginning of something good.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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  • richardmitnick 3:29 pm on February 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Department of Energy fusion laser research and development, Diode-pumped petawatt lasers, ELI Beamlines - European Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines, High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS), , LLNL   

    From LLNL: “LLNL meets key milestone for delivery of world’s highest average power petawatt laser system” This is a Big Deal 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Feb. 2, 2017

    Breanna Bishop
    bishop33@llnl.gov
    925-423-9802

    [THIS IS A BIG DEAL, US DEVELOPED TECHNOLOGY FOR EXPORT.]

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    HAPLS has set a world record for diode-pumped petawatt lasers, with energy reaching 16 joules and a 28 femtosecond pulse duration (equivalent to ~0.5 petawatt/pulse) at a 3.3 hertz repetition rate (3.3 times per second).

    The High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS), being developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), recently completed a significant milestone: demonstration of continuous operation of an all diode-pumped, high-energy femtosecond petawatt laser system.

    With completion of this milestone, the system is ready for delivery and integration at the European Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines facility project (ELI Beamlines) in the Czech Republic.

    2
    e
    ELI Beamlines

    HAPLS set a world record for diode-pumped petawatt lasers, with energy reaching 16 joules (J) and a 28 femtosecond (fs) pulse duration (equivalent to ~0.5 petawatt/pulse) at a 3.3 hertz (Hz) repetition rate (3.3 times per second).

    In just three years, HAPLS went from concept to a fully integrated and record-breaking product. HAPLS represents a new generation of application-enabling diode-pumped, high-energy and high-peak-power laser systems with innovative technologies originating from the Department of Energy fusion laser research and development.

    “Lawrence Livermore takes pride in pushing science and technology to regimes never achieved before,” LLNL Director Bill Goldstein said. “Twenty years ago, LLNL pioneered the first petawatt laser, the NOVA Petawatt, representing a quantum leap forward in peak power. Today, HAPLS leads a new generation of petawatt lasers, with capabilities not seen before.”

    6
    The Nova laser at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, completed in 1984, was the world’s largest working laser until its retirement in 1999. With 10 laser beams, it was used for experiments on x-rays, astronomical phenomena, and fusion energy. In 1996, it was made into a petawatt laser, in which a short, intense pulse produced the highest power yet achieved: about 1.3 petawatts, or 1.3 quadrillion watts.

    In the decades since high-power lasers were introduced, they have illuminated entirely new fields of scientific endeavor, in addition to making profound impacts on society. When petawatt peak power pulses are focused to a high intensity on a target, they generate secondary sources such as electromagnetic radiation (for example, high-brightness X-rays) or accelerate charged particles (electrons, protons or ions), enabling unparalleled access to a variety of research areas, including time-resolved proton and X-ray radiography, laboratory astrophysics and other basic science and medical applications for cancer treatments, in addition to national security applications and industrial processes such as nondestructive evaluation of materials and laser fusion.

    Up to now, proof-of-principle experiments with single-shot lasers have provided a glimpse into this arena of transformational applications, but to commercially explore these areas a high-repetition-rate petawatt laser is needed.

    “The high-repetition-rate of the HAPLS system is a watershed moment for the community,” said Constantin Haefner, LLNL’s program director for Advanced Photon Technologies (APT). “HAPLS is the first petawatt laser to truly provide application-enabling repetition rates.”

    Drawing on LLNL’s decades of cutting-edge laser research and development led to the key advancements that distinguish HAPLS from other petawatt lasers. Those advancements include HAPLS’ ability to reach petawatt power levels while maintaining an unprecedented pulse rate; development of the world’s highest peak power diode arrays…

    5
    To drive the diode arrays, LLNL needed to develop a completely new type of pulsed-power system, which supplies the arrays with electrical power by drawing energy from the grid and converting it to extremely high-current, precisely-shaped electrical pulses.Photos by Damien Jemison.

    …driven by a Livermore-developed pulsed power system; a pump laser generating up to 200 J at a 10 Hz repetition rate; a gas-cooled short-pulse titanium-doped sapphire amplifier; a sophisticated control system with a high level of automation including auto-alignment capability, fast laser startup, performance tracking and machine safety; dual chirped-pulse-amplification high-contrast short-pulse front end; and a gigashot laser pump source for pumping the short-pulse preamplifiers. In addition, HAPLS is to be the most compact petawatt laser ever built.

    This expertise is why ELI Beamlines looked to Livermore to develop HAPLS. “It was quite straightforward,” said Roman Hvezda, ELI Beamlines project manager. “Given the design requirements, nobody else could deliver this system in such a short time on schedule and on budget. It’s a great benefit to be able to cooperate with Livermore, a well-established lab, and this will be a basis for continued cooperation in the future.”

    This cooperation was daily during construction, with LLNL and ELI Beamlines scientists and engineers working side by side on all parts of the laser system.

    “One of the real successes of this endeavor was that very early on, the client was fully integrated into the commissioning and operation of this laser,” Haefner said. “This provided hands-on training and expertise right out of the gate, helping to ensure operational success once the laser is installed at ELI Beamlines. We look at this as a long-term and enduring partnership.”

    Bedrich Rus, ELI Beamlines scientific coordinator for Laser Technology, agrees. “This was never a standard client-supplier relationship,” he said. “We have had about 10 people at LLNL – this integration is not only a very positive added value for the future operation of the facility, it’s been a great experience for their careers and development.”

    In the coming months, HAPLS will be transferred to ELI Beamlines, where it will be integrated into the facility’s laser beam transport and control systems, then brought up to full design specification – delivery of pulses with peak power exceeding 1 petawatt (quadrillion watts) firing at 10 Hz, breaking its own record and making it the world’s highest average power petawatt system. ELI plans to make HAPLS available by 2018 to the international science user community to conduct the first experiments using the laser.

    “HAPLS was a very fast-paced project,” Haefner said. “In only three years it pushed the cutting edge in high-power short-pulse lasers more than tenfold, incorporating a completely new system approach. To do so, Livermore worked closely with industry to similarly advance the state of the art – and many of those joint Livermore/industry innovations are already on the market. These partnerships can be incredibly synergistic, resulting in successful and societal impactful technologies like HAPLS.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    LLNL Campus

    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security
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  • richardmitnick 2:20 pm on January 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Girls Who Code, LLNL,   

    From LLNL: Women in STEM – “Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District recognizes ‘Girls Who Code’ volunteers” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Jan. 26, 2017
    Don Johnston
    johnston19@llnl.gov
    925-423-4902

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    LLNL software engineer Russ Fleming, left, and computer scientist Danielle Sikich, right (standing), helped facilitate the Girls Who Code club at Granada High School in Livermore last fall. Photos by Deanna Willis/LLNL

    Thanks to the efforts of volunteers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), more than 150 students at Livermore middle and high schools were introduced to coding and basic computer programming last fall during after-school “Girls Who Code” clubs. The 22 Laboratory mentors were recognized, along with 10 district math and science teachers, by the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) at a meeting last week.

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    At a recent board meeting, the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District recognized volunteers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for their instrumental roles in teaching coding at after-school clubs throughout Livermore this fall. From left: Emily Brannan, Lisa Belk, Ed Seidl, Marisa Torres, Yaniv Rosen, Kathleen McCandless, Danielle Sikich, Michele D’Hooge, Jeff Parker, Karina Bond, Jessica Mauvais, JoAnn Matone, Janet Seidl and Ryan Verdon. Not pictured: Marcey Kelley, Russ Fleming, Daniel Howell, Chris Schroeder, Juanita Ordonez, Aaron Jones, Terri Quinn and Jonathan DuBois.

    The Livermore Girls Who Code clubs are collaborations between the national nonprofit program, the school district and the Laboratory. The Girls Who Code program provides training and curriculum (no lectures) to volunteers from the Laboratory who visit the school sites once a week for about two hours over 10 weeks to teach the curriculum. The schools provide the facilities, equipment and a teacher to help coordinate the clubs’ activities. The clubs were held at all seven comprehensive middle and high schools in Livermore.

    According to Regina Brinker, STEM coordinator at LVJUSD, most club members were female, but several males also attended. Students from special education programs also participated. By the end of the fall semester, 76 percent of the originally enrolled students still were participating in clubs.

    “We are thrilled with the high number of participants,” Brinker said. “It indicates the depth of interest our students have in learning computer programming.”

    The majority of Laboratory volunteers were from Computation but also included staff from Engineering, Weapons and Complex Integration and Physical and Life Sciences.

    “This experience was only successful because of our volunteers’ generosity and their genuine interest in introducing kids to computer science in a fun and friendly way,” said Marcey Kelley, Computation workforce manager and LLNL point of contact for the Girls Who Code clubs. “They are wonderful ambassadors of the Lab.”

    As the father of two teenage girls, software engineer Russ Fleming was excited for the opportunity to get involved and found his time at Granada High School to be rewarding. “The kids at Granada were engaging and fun to work with,” Fleming said. “Their enthusiasm and creativity made me leave each meeting feeling happy to have helped.

    3
    Girls Who Code volunteers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, including Ryan Verdon (center), were thanked by Livermore school board members and presented with certificates at a Board of Education meeting.

    “After so many years of writing software, it was refreshing to talk about it with people just starting out. I really enjoyed being able to show them some ‘tricks of the trade’ and share real-world experiences of a software engineer.”

    Fleming plans to continue his involvement with the Girls Who Code club at Christensen Middle School this spring. “It will be fun to see what kinds of ideas the middle schoolers have compared to high schoolers,” he said.

    Janet and Ed Seidl, along with Jessica Mauvais and Ryan Verdon, helped facilitate the club at Livermore High School, where they say it was gratifying to see the students gain confidence in themselves throughout the program. “I wanted the girls to feel that the club was a safe place where no one would be judged,” Janet Seidl said, “and I think we were successful in that.”

    For Ed Seidl, the highlight was having the students form teams to brainstorm ideas for their “CS Impact” project, a core part of the Girls Who Code experience, which challenges the students to use computer science to solve a problem relevant to their classroom and community.

    “Each team presented their ideas, which were all fabulous,” Ed Seidl said. “We kept track of the ideas on a whiteboard, and then refined them as a group to get an overall plan for an app.”

    Club activity in the spring will vary from site to site, depending on student interest and staff and volunteer availability. Supported by a community gift grant from Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, students will be invited to participate in field trips this spring, including a group viewing of the movie “Hidden Figures” and day trips to IBM and Workday.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    LLNL Campus

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

     
  • richardmitnick 1:40 pm on December 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , LLNL, New optical fiber   

    From LLNL: “Researchers develop new amplifier that could double the capacity of fiber-optic cables” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Dec. 13, 2016
    Breanna Bishop
    bishop33@llnl.gov
    925-423-9802

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    NIF & Photon Science postdoctoral researcher Leily Kiani tests a new optical fiber that could double the bandwidth of fiber-optic cables. Credit: Jason Laurea

    More than 3.4 billion people are connected to the Internet, placing ever-increasing demand on the telecom industry to provide bigger, better and faster bandwidth to users. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have taken an important step in addressing that need by developing a new type of optical fiber amplifier that could potentially double the information-carrying capacity of fiber-optic cables.

    Most of the data for the Internet travel on fiber-optic cables, which are made up of bundles of threads that transmit laser light. As the fiber gets longer, however, power is lost due to attenuation. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, researchers discovered that they could mitigate this loss by developing inline fiber-optic amplifiers.

    At the time, lasers operated at a wavelength of 1.3 microns, or 1,300 nanometers (nm). No optical amplifiers were developed, however, that worked well in that region. Researchers were able to develop an amplifier at 1.55 microns, or 1,550 nm, so laser transmission systems were switched to match. At the same time, they discovered that inline optical amplifiers allowed them to amplify many different lasers at one time, a discovery that increased the information carrying capacity of a single optical fiber from 155 megabits a second to more than one terabit a second. While this was a huge increase, it is still a limited amount of information, requiring many cables to transmit.

    Flash forward 25 years. The Livermore team was working on neodymium-doped optical-fiber lasers, which lase at 1,330 nm (1.33 microns), 1,064 nm (1.064 microns) and 920 nm. The team built a custom optical fiber that suppressed lasing at 1,064 nm and amplified light preferentially at 920 nm. In the course of testing the 920-nm laser, the team observed in the fluorescent spectra that the fiber also showed signs of amplification at 1,400-1,450 nm — a wavelength that never worked previously.

    Previous fiber amplifiers did not suppress lasing at 1,064 nm and also were observed to suffer from an effect known as excited-state absorption in the 1,330-nm region. This effect actually causes the fiber loss to increase when pump light is applied — the opposite of the desired effect, which is to generate optical gain.

    The team then redesigned the fiber to suppress laser action at both 1,064 nm and 920 nm. This new fiber, which completely eliminates the potential for lasing at 920 nm or 1,064 nm, can now only provide gain on the 1,330-nm laser transition. Excited-state absorption still precludes amplification at 1,330 nm, but the laser line amplifies light across a large range of wavelengths.

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    End-face view of the new optical fiber. The fiber has an outer diameter of 126 microns and the observable features are 6.6 microns apart. The center spot is doped with neodymium ions, the same dopant used in NIF’s lasers, but the material is fused silica glass instead of phosphate glass. The bright dots are GRIN (gradient-index) inclusions, and the dark spots are fluorine-doped fused silica, which have a lower refractive index than undoped fused silica. No image credit.

    The team discovered that from 1,390 nm to 1,460 nm there is significant positive optical gain, and this new fiber generates laser power and optical gain with relatively good efficiency. This discovery opens up the potential for installed optical fibers to operate in a transmission region known as E-band, in addition to the C and L bands where they currently operate — effectively doubling a single optical fiber’s information-carrying potential.

    “The key missing component for operating a telecom network in this wavelength region has been the optical fiber amplifier,” said Jay Dawson, deputy program director for DoD Technologies in the NIF and Photon Science Directorate. “What we’ve done is effectively create something that will look and feel like a conventional erbium fiber amplifier, but in an adjacent wavelength region, doubling the carrying capacity of an optical-fiber amplifier.”

    The amplifiers would potentially allow telecom companies to more heavily leverage their installed base of equipment, requiring less capital investment than new cable — resulting in expanded bandwidth and lower costs to the end user. Installation of new cable is expensive; a service provider must not only purchase new cables, but also undergo the large expense of digging trenches to install the new cable.

    “By using the fiber we’ve developed, you could build a set of optical fiber amplifiers that would look virtually identical in technology to the fiber amplifiers that already exist,” Dawson said. “Instead of having to lay another expensive cable, you could install these new amplifiers in the same buildings as the current amplifiers, resulting in twice as much bandwidth on the current cables.”

    “To me, that’s what is exciting about it,” he added. “It’s something that no one has previously been able to do, and the potential is there to really make a big difference.”

    Initially started as a Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) project (see “New Horizons for High-Power Fiber Lasers”), the research is now funded by the LLNL Industrial Partnerships Office (IPO)’s Innovation Development Fund (IDF). IDF uses internal monies to fund interesting, but early stage, projects that are expected to have commercial application.

    “This appeared to be a significant discovery that may solve a problem in the telecommunications industry, which is a large and important market, but more R&D was needed,” said Michael Sharer, IPO manager for technology commercialization. “The IDF committee felt that this was an important project to fund from this standpoint.”

    In addition to Dawson, researchers on the project are Graham Allen, Diana Chen, Matt Cook, Parker Crist, Reggie Drachenberg, Victor Khitrov, Leily Kiani, Mike Messerly, Paul Pax and Nick Schenkel.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
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    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security
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  • richardmitnick 11:35 am on December 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , East Greenland ice sheet, LLNL   

    From LLNL: “East Greenland ice sheet has responded to climate change for the last 7.5 million years” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    1
    Polar scientists Alice Nelson (University of Vermont), Dylan Rood (Imperial College) and Jeremy Shakun (Boston College) look over a frozen bay near Kulusuk, Greenland. Photos by Joshua Brown/University of Vermont.

    Using marine sediment cores containing isotopes of aluminum and beryllium, a group of international researchers has discovered that East Greenland experienced deep, ongoing glacial erosion over the past 7.5 million years.

    The research reconstructs ice sheet erosion dynamics in that region during the past 7.5 million years and has potential implications for how much the ice sheet will respond to future interglacial warming.

    The team, made up of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of Vermont (link is external), Boston College (link is external) and Imperial College London (link is external), analyzed sediments eroded from the continent and deposited in the ocean off the coast, which are like a time capsule preserving records of glacial processes. The research appears in the Dec. 8 edition of the journal, Nature.

    Understanding of early Greenland glaciation remains fragmentary, uncertain and for some periods, contradictory; much of what is known comes from marine sediments. The first presence of ice-rafted debris suggests that East Greenland glaciers initially reached the coast about 7.5 million years ago, whereas the surface texture of the sand grains suggests that glaciation began 11 million years ago.

    “The East Greenland ice sheet has been dynamic over the last 7.5 million years,” said lead author and University of Vermont scientist Paul Bierman. “Greenland was mostly ice-covered during the mid-to-late Pleistocene. At major climate transitions, the ice sheet expanded into previously ice-free terrain, confirming that the East Greenland Ice Sheet consistently responded to global climate change.”

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    University of Vermont geologist Paul Bierman holds up a chunk of sediment-filled ice on the east coast of Greenland.

    Using Lawrence Livermore’s Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, LLNL scientist Susan Zimmerman and collaborators analyzed the isotopes of beryllium (Be) that were found in the quartz sand from ice-rafted debris in sediment cores.

    3
    Ted Ognibene loads a sample in the NEC 1 MV Tandem Accelerator at the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (CAMS).

    Analyzing those isotopes in sediment shed from the continent and stored at the bottom of the ocean as marine sediment gives scientists insight into how Greenland responded to climate change in the past and how, in turn, it may respond in the future.

    The concentration of cosmogenic nuclides in rock, sand and soil reveals the exposure history of the surface. Cosmic rays continually bombard Earth and produce aluminum (Al) and Be isotopes in mineral lattices. Production rates and nuclide concentrations decrease exponentially within a few meters of the surface, so covering a landscape with ice stops cosmogenic nuclide production in the underlying rock. Subsequent glacial erosion first removes the most highly dosed, near-surface material before excavating rock from depths containing progressively lower isotope concentrations.

    Thermal conditions at the ice-sheet bed control its ability to erode, incorporate and transport rock and sediment. Warm-based ice can effectively erode rock and transport sediment to and off the coast, while cold-based ice, below the pressure melting point, is frozen to the bed and generally non-erosive; it buries and preserves ancient landscapes rather than eroding them.

    The isotopic record in the new research thus focuses on the areas of the ice sheet that were warm-based.
    “A clearer constraint on the behavior of the ice sheet during past and, ultimately, future interglacial warmth was produced by looking at beryllium and aluminum records from our coring site,” Bierman said. “Our analysis challenges the possibility of complete and extended deglaciation over the past several million years.”

    See the full article here .

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

    From LLNL: “Girls explore STEM careers at conference” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Oct. 17, 2016
    Carenda L Martin
    martin59@llnl.gov
    925-424-4715

    1
    “She Believed She Could So She Did STEM,” was the theme for the recent San Joaquin Expanding Your Horizons Conference, held at the University of the Pacific

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For more information, see the SJEYH website.

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

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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  • richardmitnick 1:14 pm on September 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Copper nanowires, LLNL,   

    From LLNL: “Livermore scientists purify copper nanowires” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Sep. 22, 2016
    Anne M Stark
    stark8@llnl.gov
    925-422-9799

    1
    An illustration of the separation process from a mixture of various copper nanocrystal shapes (two tubes to the left) to pure nanowires and nanoparticles (two tubes to the right). No image credit.

    Cell phones and Apple watches could last a little longer due to a new method to create copper nanowires.

    A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists have created a new method to purify copper nanowires with a near-100 percent yield. These nanowires are often used in nanoelectronic applications.

    The research, which appears in the online edition of Chemical Communications and on the cover of the hardcopy issue, shows how the method can yield large quantities of long, uniform, high-purity copper nanowires. High-purity copper nanowires meet the requirements of nanoelectronic applications as well as provide an avenue for purifying industrial-scale synthesis of copper nanowires, a key step for commercialization and application.

    Metal nanowires (NWs) hold promise for commercial applications such as flexible displays, solar cells, catalysts and heat dissipators.

    The most common approach to create nanowires not only yield nanowires but also other low-aspect ratio shapes such as nanoparticles (NPs) and nanorods. These undesired byproducts are almost always produced due to difficulties in controlling the non-instantaneous nucleation of the seed particles as well as seed types, which causes the particles to grow in multiple pathways.

    “We created the purest form of copper nanowires with no byproducts that would affect the shape and purity of the nanowires,” said LLNL’s Fang Qian, lead author of the paper.

    The team demonstrated that copper nanowires, synthesized at a liter-scale, can be purified to near 100 percent yield from their nanoparticle side-products with a few simple steps.

    Functional nanomaterials are notoriously difficult to produce in large volumes with highly controlled composition, shapes and sizes. This difficulty has limited adoption of nanomaterials in many manufacturing technologies.

    “This work is important because it enables production of large quantities of copper nanomaterials with a very facile and elegant approach to rapidly separate nanowires from nanoparticles with extremely high efficiency,” said Eric Duoss, a principal investigator on the project. “We envision employing these purified nanomaterials for a wide variety of novel fabrication approaches, including additive manufacturing.”

    The key to success is the use of a hydrophobic surfactant in aqueous solution, together with an immiscible water organic solvent system to create a hydrophobic-distinct interface, allowing nanowires to crossover spontaneously due to their different crystal structure and total surface area from those of nanoparticles.

    “The principles developed from this particular case of copper nanowires may be applied to a variety of nanowire applications,” Qian said. “This purification method will open up new possibilities in producing high quality nanomaterials with low cost and in large quantities.”

    Other Livermore researchers include: Pui Ching Lan, Tammy Olson, Cheng Zhu and Christopher Spadaccini.

    “We also are developing high surface area foams as well as printable inks for additive manufacturing processes, such as direct-ink writing using the NWs,” said LLNL’s Yong Han, a corresponding author of the paper.

    The work was funded by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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  • richardmitnick 12:33 pm on September 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Forensics, LLNL, Splitting hairs to advance forensic science   

    From LLNL: “Splitting hairs to advance forensic science” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Sep. 19, 2016
    Stephen Wampler
    wampler1@llnl.gov
    925-423-3107

    1
    Glendon Parker, a biochemist with Lawrence Livermore’s Forensic Science Center, is developing an identification method that relies on information encoded in the proteins of hair. Photos by Julie Russell/LLNL

    With initial help from his work at a Utah university (link is external), an Australian-born biochemist is partnering with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) to discover a second science-based forensic tool for identifying people in addition to DNA profiling.

    Now an LLNL contract employee, Glendon Parker is working with the Lab’s Forensic Science Center employees to develop a biological identification method that relies on the information encoded in proteins of human hair.

    Parker credits part of the forensic science breakthrough to the support he received during his five years from 2008 to 2013 as an assistant professor at Orem-based Utah Valley University, and particularly to the scientific resources and multidisciplinary approach used at LLNL to address technical challenges.

    “This project has so many moving parts and each part is in a different discipline.

    “We have one researcher (Deon Anex) who is skilled in liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and analytical chemistry; we have a bioinformaticist (Marisa Torres) who manages and develops our data flow; and we have a postdoc (Katelyn Mason) who is excellent at chemical processing, sample preparation and method development,” Parker said.

    2
    Glendon Parker (left) and Deon Anex, both of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Forensic Science Center, analyze hair samples.

    “In addition, our multidisciplinary team has two biologists — Bonnee Rubinfeld and Cheryl Strout — who bring extensive experience in processing samples and establishing standard operating procedures to bear for our research.”

    Parker, 48, who immigrated to the United States in 1995, had invested a lot of time and work into developing the new forensic method –based on the number and pattern of protein markers in hair — but hadn’t gotten as far as he wanted.

    Then the needs of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the Laboratory’s Forensic Science Center and Parker all serendipitously converged.

    One day in late 2012, a DoD agency sponsor who wanted to use hair as a way to identify people, visited LLNL and suggested that Lab Forensic Science Director Brad Hart should talk to the head of a federal agency’s DNA lab.

    “When I called the federal agency, I was told Glendon Parker of Utah Valley University was working on a way to identify people using protein markers for human hair,” Hart said

    “I called Glendon and told him, ‘We’ve got this requirement for forensic identification and I understand you have a science-based approach that might help us.’ I had him come out to the Laboratory and give a talk and things went from there. Glendon moved out to California and we started the collaboration,” Hart explained.

    By March 2013, Parker was working as a contract employee at LLNL.

    Parker believes three factors in his career path and personal life proved pivotal in the development of the new science-based forensic tool.

    “First, I had spent two years looking at mass spectrometry data for diabetes research and I got a good feel for what we could learn from mass spectrometry. Second, my wife is a geneticist, and I was able to get a feel for basic genetics.

    “And finally, when I left working as a scientific researcher, I became an assistant professor at Utah Valley University and started writing grants to secure equipment for our students. I wanted to develop new science projects for which we could use our instrumentation. That’s where my idea came from for protein-based identification.”

    Another boost for his work came from Utah Valley University.

    “I wouldn’t be here without the support I received from the university, both from the College of Science and Health and from the university’s tech transfer office. The college allowed me to structure my teaching responsibilities so that I could start at LLNL, and provided initial funding for the project. These developments were important to my work.”

    The Lab’s development of a science-based, protein-based identification method for hair and other tissues comes at a time when the subjective method of hair comparison has run into trouble.

    In 2013, a consortium was formed to review about 3,000 criminal cases in which the FBI used microscopic hair analysis to help convict defendants.

    Among the organizations participating in the study were members of the Innocence Project, the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers, the FBI and the Department of Justice.

    Through April 2015, the consortium reviewed about 270 transcripts involving microscopic hair analysis and determined that about 95 percent of the transcripts had at least one error in testimony.

    “One of the reasons we believe our protein marker identification method for hair and other tissues is so important is because hair comparison is intrinsically subjective and can lend itself to over-interpretation in criminal cases,” Parker said.

    Hart noted that LLNL researchers are trying to provide the forensic science community with another science-based tool for human identification.

    “We believe we’ve made a very good start and we think we’re going to do better in identifying protein markers,” Parker said. “The pieces of the puzzle seem to be coming together.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 8:27 am on September 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Laboratory researchers find Earth composed of different materials than primitive meteorites, LLNL,   

    From LLNL: “Laboratory researchers find Earth composed of different materials than primitive meteorites” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Sep. 15, 2016
    Anne M Stark
    stark8@llnl.gov
    925-422-9799

    1
    An independent compound chondrule consisting of barred olivine and porphyritic olivine section in the meteorite NWA 2372 CK4. Image courtesy of John Kashuba.

    Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have found that, contrary to popular belief, the Earth is not comprised of the same material found in primitive meteorites (also known as chondrites).

    This is based on the determination that the abundance of several neodymium (Nd) isotopes are different in the Earth and in chondritic meteorites.

    A long-standing theory assumes that the chemical and isotopic composition of most elements in the bulk silicate Earth is the same as primitive meteorites.

    However, 10 years ago it was discovered that rocks on the surface of the Earth had a higher abundance of 142Nd than primitive meteorites, leading to a hypothesis that Earth had either a hidden reservoir of Nd in its mantle or inherited more of the parent isotope 146smarium (Sm), which subsequently decayed to 142Nd.

    Using higher precision isotope measurements, the team found that differences in 142Nd between Earth and chondrites (non-metallic meteorites) reflected nucleosynthetic processes and not the presence of a hidden reservoir in the Earth or excess 146Sm.

    “The research has tremendous implications for our fundamental understanding of the Earth, not only for determining its bulk composition, heat content and structure, but also for constraining the modes and timescales of its geodynamical evolution,” said Lars Borg, LLNL chemist and co-author of a paper appearing in the Sept. 15 edition of Nature.

    The team suggests that the Earth formed from material that was slightly more enriched in Nd produced by the a slow neutron capture process during the creation of asymmetric giant branch (AGB) stars.

    The team’s ultimate goal was to determine whether the magnitude of radiogenic (produced by radioactive decay) Nd correlated with Nd produced in nucleosynthetic environments such as supernova or AGB stars.They used large sample sizes (about 2 grams) to obtain higher precision Nd and Sm isotope data for a comprehensive set of meteorites including 18 chondrites, the ungrouped primitive achondrite NWA 5363 and a Calcium-Aluminum-rich inclusion (CAI) from the Allende meteorite (the largest carbonaceous chondrite ever found on Earth).

    “This research may provide a new means for assessing processes that affected solid material in the disk, as well as for identifying genetic relationships among planetary bodies,” Borg said. “It calls into question a fundamental tenant of geochemistry that the composition of the Earth is precisely represented by the composition of primitive meteorites.”

    Other scientists include collaborators from the University of Chicago and Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat Munster in Germany.

    Neodymium is a powerful magnetic element used in compact electric motors. A Toyota Prius uses 1 kg in its electric motor magnets. Although neodymium is classifed as a rare earth element, it is fairly common, no rarer than cobalt, nickel and copper and is widely distributed in the Earth’s crust.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 3:54 pm on August 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FEI Titan transmission electron microscope, LLNL   

    From LLNL: “New electron microscope expands materials characterization capabilities at Laboratory” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Aug. 16, 2016
    Jeremy Thomas
    thomas244@llnl.gov
    925-422-5539

    1
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory materials scientists Joseph McKeown (left) and Tian (Tony) Li (right) use the new FEI Titan transmission electron microscope to study the nanostructure and composition of metallic alloys. Li points to a bright crystalline grain ~100 nm in size and rich in zirconium, observed using Z-contrast imaging. Photos by Julie Russell/LLNL

    A new Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) installed at the Lab earlier this year is giving LLNL researchers a clearer look at the atomic level of structures than they’ve had before.

    2
    Tony Li aligns the Titan TEM to get a focused image.

    The Titan 80-300 TEM, manufactured by FEI Company, was installed in December and brings an expanded capability to the existing transmission electron microscope the Lab has had for about 20 years, according to LLNL staff scientist Joe McKeown. Among the improvements include a high-angle annular dark field (HAADF) detector for scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), which allows for Z-contrast imaging due to enhanced scattering from high atomic number elements, and a low-voltage mode for analyzing polymers and biological samples that may be more sensitive to high-energy electrons.

    “With the dark field detector, heavier elements appear brighter in contrast, so we can more easily and quickly perform both structural and compositional analysis of microstructures,” McKeown said.

    The microscope also has been fitted with an upgraded detector for electron energy loss spectrometry (EELS). The new detector (a Gatan 965 GIF Quantum ER) provides better energy resolution and allows for extremely fast elemental mapping of materials due to increased collection efficiency. Operations that would typically take a few hours, McKeown said, take only a few minutes with the state-of-the-art machine.

    “In terms of timesaving, it’s enormous,” McKeown said. “Having this new spectrometer is really nice for doing fine mapping because there’s much more signal to be collected.”

    Postdoctoral researcher Tian (Tony) Li, one of the new TEM’s primary users, said the Titan provides many new microscopy capabilities on site that he previously had to travel to Lawrence Berkeley Lab to perform. With its high-resolution imaging, Li said, researchers can see individual atomic columns, a useful tool for looking at lattice structures and doing composition analysis.

    3
    A micron-sized sample created by Focused Ion Beam (FIB) is examined under the Titan. The magnification can be further increased by tens of thousands of times to obtain atomic-level images.

    “You can get images down to the atomic level with the Titan and it’s also great for quantitative analysis,” Li said. “You can do atomic-resolution imaging, diffraction, energy dispersive x-ray analysis, electron energy loss and tomography, and it has one of the best yield spectrometers out there.”

    McKeown said anyone interested in microstructures, including additive manufacturing, biology, or other areas that could benefit from nanoscale imaging, can bring samples in for analysis, and can even be trained on how to use it.

    “You don’t have to be an expert to get some really good images,” McKeown said.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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