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  • richardmitnick 11:34 am on May 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Blue Dawn-experimental pump designed for use in zero-gravity environments, Blue Origin reusable rocket, Bruin Spacecraft Group, Microgravity research experiments, UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “UCLA students touch space with a microgravity experiment” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    May 8, 2019
    Emmanuel Masongsong

    1
    Bruin Space team members Chloe Liau, Andrew Evans, and Alexander Gonzalez holding their final flight model. Andrew Evans/Bruin Space

    Magnetic pump built by Bruin Space launches on Blue Origin reusable rocket.

    It took only 10 minutes and a ride aboard the Blue Origin New Shepard reusable rocket for 11 students in the Bruin Spacecraft Group to make history.

    2
    Blue Origin

    At 6:32 a.m. on May 2, their experimental pump designed for use in zero-gravity environments, named “Blue Dawn,” completed its flight into a low-Earth orbit and freefall — thereby becoming the first space payload developed and built entirely by a UCLA student group.

    3
    Closeup of the Blue Dawn payload, housed in a custom-built aluminum chassis, with the pump sealed in tape to waterproof the experiment. Andrew Evans/Bruin Space

    “The goal was to see if we could design an efficient fluid pump without any moving parts to work in zero-gravity, which has never been done before,” said Alexander Gonzalez, fourth-year physics major and undergrad science lead on the project. Such a low-maintenance pump would be ideal for moving various liquids on the International Space Station, and could reduce the risk of motorized pump failures for rovers and even future bases on the moon or Mars.

    The New Shepard rocket roared into the deep blue West Texas sky, ferrying a suite of 38 separate microgravity research experiments, including two built by student groups at UCLA and Case Western Reserve University.

    For Blue Dawn, the UCLA team had to design a system containing the fluid, pump tubing, magnets and electronics in a custom aluminum frame that was about the size of a football and with a maximum weight of one pound.

    Work began on the project in fall 2017. After designing it, the team of 11 students from several majors then manufactured and tested the pump entirely on campus. The Bruin Spacecraft Group, known as Bruin Space, secured primary funding for their project in 2017 by winning a grant from the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research Ken Souza Spaceflight Competition.

    “It’s super exciting to directly apply the knowledge we gained in classes and actually build something that went into space,” said Andrew Evans, a third-year majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering and who served as chief engineer. He stressed the value of hands-on team experience gained in such projects.

    “That’s what Bruin Space is all about, solving real science questions while giving students an opportunity to fulfill their dreams of spaceflight,” Evans said.

    To be judged a success, Blue Dawn had to operate fully autonomously during its 10-minute flight and freefall back to Earth. Once the capsule chutes deployed and it touched down softly in the desert, Chloe Liau, fourth-year mechanical and aerospace engineering student and structure/fabrication lead, breathed a sigh of relief.

    “Seeing all our hard work pay off with a perfect launch and landing, it was nothing short of amazing,” Liau said. “But we still have a job to finish.”

    The payload and flight data will be returned to UCLA this week, so that the team can analyze the pump’s performance in microgravity. They expect the flow in space to be more efficient compared to its performance in ground tests under the influence of gravity.

    The team plans to publish the results of this first study and present at conferences, giving these students the experience of seeing a space mission end-to-end.

    Team members said that it would not have been possible without the expert guidance of two geophysics and space physics Ph.D. students from the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences: science advisor Emily Hawkins and project manager Lydia Bingley. The group was also supported by Richard Wirz, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, and Chris Russell, professor of Earth, planetary and space sciences, whose prototyping lab facilities were used to build and test Blue Dawn.

    What’s next for Bruin Space?

    “We have several other exciting projects in development, from weather balloons and rocket campaigns, to designing a microsatellite propulsion system,” Evans said. “We are always looking for new members, check out our website at BruinSpace.com to learn more.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:37 am on April 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Will ocean seafood farming sink or swim? UCLA study evaluates its potential", A tiny fraction of the world’s oceans farmed sustainably — just 0.015 percent — could satisfy the entire world’s fish demand, “The more robust regulation you have the more you can ensure the industry will be around for longer and that it will be able to produce fish at a reasonable cost with minimal input.”, China is the largest marine aquaculture producer by far but its waters are only moderately good and its governance was listed as low quality., Ineffective regulation often leads to ecosystem damage., Marine aquaculture is seen as promising compared to high-polluting inland operations., Research on 144 countries reveals opportunities and pitfalls of this fast-growing sector., Sixty-seven countries fell in the goldilocks category for either finfish or bivalves, Sustainable food systems are an important part of the fight against climate change, The paper categorized 77 countries as potential at-risk, UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Will ocean seafood farming sink or swim? UCLA study evaluates its potential” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    April 22, 2019
    David Colgan

    Research on 144 countries reveals opportunities and pitfalls of this fast-growing sector.

    1
    Divers survey submersible cages used to farm cobia off the coast of Puerto Rico. UCLA researchers conducted the first country-by-country evaluation of the potential for marine aquaculture under current policies and practices. NOAA.

    Seafood farming in the ocean — or marine aquaculture — is the fastest growing sector of the global food system, and it shows no sign of slowing. Open-ocean farms have vast space for expansion, and consumer demand continues to rise.

    As with many young industries, there’s a lot to figure out, from underlying science and engineering to investment and regulations.

    In a study published in the journal Marine Policy, UCLA researchers report that they have conducted the first country-by-country evaluation of the potential for marine aquaculture under current governance, policy and capital patterns. They discovered a patchwork of opportunities and pitfalls.

    Peter Kareiva, one of the study’s authors and director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, said sustainable food systems are an important part of the fight against climate change.

    “Like many environmental scientists, I see marine aquaculture as the future food system for a carbon neutral world,” Kareiva said. “But whether we get that future and a healthy ocean depends on governance and regulations — and we all know how sketchy those can be at times.”

    In 2017, Kareiva’s research found that a tiny fraction of the world’s oceans, farmed sustainably — just 0.015 percent — could satisfy the entire world’s fish demand.

    The new study categorizes 144 countries into three groups based on their capacity for aquaculture growth in the industry: “goldilocks,” “potential at-risk” and “non-optimized producer.” The categories are based on quality of government institutions and regulations, potential for investment and how suitable the biological and physical environment are for farming seafood in the ocean.

    Sixty-seven countries fell in the goldilocks category for either finfish or bivalves, like mussels and clams — meaning conditions there are favorable for marine aquaculture. According to lead author Ian Davies, who conducted research for the study at Kareiva’s UCLA lab, the industry could help address social challenges in these places.

    “There is a lot of potential in food-insecure countries, including island states in the Pacific and Caribbean,” Davies said. “They have limited resources and quickly growing populations. But these are also the countries with the most productive waters in the world.”

    Twenty-four countries were identified as non-optimized producers, which lack highly productive waters but still engage in aquaculture, usually because of better access to investment. This group includes countries around the Persian Gulf and Black Sea, South Korea, Italy, Canada and Norway.

    Finally, the paper categorized 77 countries as potential at-risk. These countries have suitable waters but poor access to capital and unstable, corrupt or ineffective governance systems. Despite such problems, 16 are currently farming fish in the ocean, often harming ecosystems or causing other problems in the process. China is by far the largest producer of ocean-farmed seafood, owing to strong financial capacity and political will, but was found to have poor oversight — which could pose problems for the industry in the future.

    “The more robust regulation you have, the more you can ensure the industry will be around for longer, and that it will be able to produce fish at a reasonable cost with minimal input,” Davies said. “There is a palpable feeling among planners, researchers and aquaculture operators that we have the ability to do this right before the industry gets too big. Let’s put the regulations in place.”

    Ineffective regulation often leads to ecosystem damage. In the 1990s, there was a shrimp farming boom in Southeast Asia. Operations added too much shrimp and feed to mangroves, destroying many in the process. The impact was also felt by humans. Mangroves serve as barriers that reduce storm surge and flooding, and many small aquaculture operators quickly found themselves out of business. More recently, unregulated fish farming led to disease outbreaks in northern Vietnamese waters.

    In other observations, the study found that while lack of regulation poses problems, so can regulation that is too burdensome. In Ireland the licensing process takes years, making it impossible for operators to qualify for European Union grants. There are other country-specific barriers, too. New Zealand is a goldilocks country, but opposition from local communities and vocal stakeholders, including fishermen, has slowed marine development.

    China is the largest marine aquaculture producer by far, but its waters are only moderately good and its governance was listed as low quality. The industry has succeeded there because of political will and access to capital. China isn’t alone. Excluding outliers, the study notes, less suitable countries produce almost six times as much fish as optimal countries. Capital-driven aquaculture in less suitable waters carries the risk of being less effective and more damaging.

    Marine aquaculture is seen as promising compared to high-polluting inland operations. The open ocean disperses its impact, leading to fewer environmental problems. Meanwhile, according to the United Nations, nearly 90 percent of the world’s marine stocks are depleted, with many fisheries on the verge of collapse. Sustainably farming oceans could allow wild populations to rebound while serving as a crucial source of protein and economic benefits to humans.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:32 am on March 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Bazinga!: ‘The Big Bang Theory’ to support twice as many UCLA students", “In honor of our 12th and final season we’re going to double our students and we’ll be doing 10 every year instead of five” Lorre told the students UCLA officials and cast and crew., In each subsequent year five additional low-income UCLA students who are pursuing degrees in the STEM fields — which are the fields pursued by the characters in the show — were chosen., UCLA Newsroom, UCLA’s Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment, When created in 2015 20 UCLA students pursuing degrees in science technology engineering or mathematics were selected.   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Bazinga!: ‘The Big Bang Theory’ to support twice as many UCLA students” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    March 08, 2019
    Alison Hewitt

    1
    Actress and UCLA alumna Mayim Bialik takes a selfie with UCLA senior Kemeka Corry on the set “The Big Bang Theory.” Mike Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

    “Wait, should it be, ‘Dear cast and crew,’ then?” asked one student.

    “Yeah, that’s what I write,” his seatmate chimed in.

    They were on a bus of UCLA students buzzing with excitement after a return visit to the set of the hit TV show, “The Big Bang Theory,” all settling in to write thank-you notes to the more than 80 people associated with the hit sitcom who fund UCLA’s Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment. Many of them noted that without the scholarship, they would instead owe thousands of dollars in student loans, and at least one student would not have been able to attend UCLA at all without the scholarship.

    They are among the 35 students who have received scholarships from the endowment. When created in 2015, 20 UCLA students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics were selected. In each subsequent year, five additional low-income UCLA students who are pursuing degrees in the STEM fields — which are the fields pursued by the characters in the show — were chosen.

    That grew on Thursday with an announcement by Chuck Lorre, the show’s executive producer and co-creator.

    “In honor of our 12th and final season, we’re going to double our students, and we’ll be doing 10 every year instead of five,” Lorre told the students, UCLA officials and cast and crew. The scholarship will support one extra student each year until it reaches a total of 10. Lorre noted that although the show was ending, the scholarship would continue in perpetuity.

    “After the sun has burned out and this is a cold, lonely rock, we will still be giving,” Lorre joked, switching rapidly between sincerity and humor as he congratulated the first group of Big Bang scholars on their graduation this spring.

    “We’re proud of you. We had a little bit to do with it, which is really nice. And we hope that you take whatever it is you got out there and you have to go and do something with it, or we will hunt you down. We know your names,” he said as the students laughed.

    He added that thanks to the $5.5 million raised by the show, the endowment will also support Big Bang scholars who pursue a University of California graduate degree, like Quincy Zlotnick and Christopher Chen, who both expect to attend UCLA next year for graduate school. Big Bang scholars will be eligible for up to $15,000 annually for four years of grad school at UCLA or a one-time grant of up to $15,000 at other UC campuses.

    Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy on the show and graduated from UCLA with a doctorate in neuroscience, told the students how proud she was of them all before leading them in a final 8-clap.

    “I’m not the only Bruin here, but I think I’m the proudest Bruin here,” Bialik said. “Being a student is not just going to classes. It’s also about how you spend your time, what kind of social community you build, what kind of community you’re able to build outside of your classes — ”

    “And Thirsty Thursdays,” interrupted actor Kunal Nayyar.

    “And Thirsty Thursdays,” Bialik repeated, laughing along with the students. “It’s also about managing your free time, and about working or having money to buy the things that you want and the things you need, and also deciding how long to wait in line for a Diddy Riese cookie. But we’re very honored and we’re very grateful that we’ve been able to be part of your journey, and in this case, to lighten your load.”

    The scholarship has done exactly that for first-year student Tamar Ervin, who is majoring in astrophysics. She had planned to take out loans and bridge the rest of the gap by working during the school year, and expressed gratitude at being able to focus on her classes instead. Likewise, junior biology major and first-generation college student Jonathan Shi noted that when he was deciding to come to UCLA, his mother encouraged him to go, but he knew that she was stressed about how to pay. The scholarship made a huge difference for his family, he said.

    Junior aerospace engineering student Mia Reyes would not have been able to attend UCLA at all. Two days before the deadline to commit to UCLA — her “dream school” — she reluctantly selected a more affordable alternative, then at the last minute learned she had received the Big Bang scholarship that changed her life. Now, she’s part of a group called Bruin Space creating a high-altitude research balloon, and works in the engineering school’s Makerspace.

    “I’m trying to make the most of this scholarship,” Reyes said. “I hope we’re making them proud.”

    At UCLA, more than 50 percent of all undergraduate students receive need-based scholarships, grants or other aid. That includes approximately 35 percent of undergraduates who receive Pell Grants, federal aid for students from low-income families. More than a third of UCLA undergraduates are first-generation college students.

    Since 2015, the Big Bang scholars have visited the show’s set at Warner Bros. studio in Burbank at least once a year, and the actors, crew and others have come to recognize them. Each incoming class has received iPads, and at Thursday’s reception, representatives from Dell Technologies, who provide computers for use on-screen by the show’s characters, provided laptops to all the graduating seniors. The students also have an on-campus club, and the show supports the club’s events, from study nights and beach clean-ups, to tours of SpaceX and Northrop Grumman. Thursday found Bialik deep in conversation with seniors Kemeka Corry and Mekai Ruddock, both of whom she has now known for four years.

    “Mayim comes to see us at UCLA, and I don’t even know how many times we’ve come back to the set,” said Corry, a psychobiology major planning to attend medical school after a gap year. The people from the show really treat them like family, she said.

    “They take care of us,” agreed Ruddock, who studies neuroscience, like Bialik, and also plans to attend medical school. “They supported our trip to SpaceX, which opened up opportunities for internships.”

    The show created an endowment unlike any other at UCLA, said Rhea Turteltaub, vice chancellor for external affairs, as she reminisced about the formation of the scholarship.

    “Our students really have had the unique opportunity to engage with their benefactors in a very special way each year,” she said. “We’re back here for our last time and this is our first class that we get to congratulate as they embark on their final year at UCLA.”

    The endowment was originally created via a founding donation by the Chuck Lorre Family Foundation, combined with gifts from more than 50 people associated with the series — including the show’s stars, executive producers, writers and crew — plus partners such as Warner Bros. Television, CBS, ICM Partners, United Talent Agency, UCLA physics professor David Saltzberg, the show’s science consultant since its inception, and more.

    The actors expressed their own amazement that they could be involved in the students’ lives. Johnny Galecki, who plays Leonard, described the show as a dream come true that checked off almost every box on his list.

    “But as an 8th-grade drop-out, the box I never dared to dream of was to be at all associated with people like you. I’m extremely proud to be a small part of your lives and the future that you’ll build for all of us,” Galecki said, sounding choked up. “You are very much a part of our Big Bang Family. You are the cousins who are out there living fascinating lives, who we’re always proud to be related to and excited to get updates about. And that excitement will continue long after our work here is done on April 30. We will forever be your cheerleaders.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:49 am on March 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New water-recycling plan brings L.A. closer to UCLA’s green goals for the city", “Conservation is about more than how we respond to a dry year — it should shape how we prepare our city for tomorrow” Garcetti said, Los Angeles city officials recently announced that the city would recycle 100 percent of its wastewater by 2035, Maximizing L.A.’s recycling capacity will increase the amount of water we source locally and help to ensure that Angelenos can count on access to clean water for generations to come., UCLA Newsroom, UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge which aims to transition L.A. County to exclusively renewable energy and local water with enhanced ecosystem health by 2050., UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability could be instrumental in developing and technologies that will help make such largescale wastewater recycling facilities financially and techno, Under the city’s plan the amount of the city’s water supply obtained from recycled water would increase from the current 2 percent to 35 percent in 2035   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “New water-recycling plan brings L.A. closer to UCLA’s green goals for the city” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    March 01, 2019
    Alison Hewitt

    1
    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti overlooking the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. Courtesy Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti.

    In a move to drastically improve water conservation and reduce reliance on imported water, Los Angeles city officials recently announced that the city would recycle 100 percent of its wastewater by 2035.

    This transition to recycled water has long been supported and in some cases advocated for by climate change and sustainable water management experts at UCLA, both through representation on the Los Angeles mayor’s water cabinet and the board of the Metropolitan Water District, and through studies. Key studies include a sustainable water management report for the city on steps to reach 100 percent local water, and a five-part research project examining the projected effects of climate change on the state’s main water source, snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

    The work supports the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, which aims to transition L.A. County to exclusively renewable energy and local water, with enhanced ecosystem health by 2050.

    “The city’s new plan is moving us toward the Sustainable LA goals faster than almost anyone thought was possible,” said Mark Gold, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor of environment and sustainability.

    Under the city’s plan, the amount of the city’s water supply obtained from recycled water would increase from the current 2 percent to 35 percent in 2035, according to a news release. Three of Los Angeles’ four sewage treatment facilities already recycle water to some extent. The fourth, the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, is the largest water treatment facility west of the Mississippi and a historic culprit in the pollution of the Santa Monica Bay, Gold explained.

    “The mayor’s bold and visionary announcement marks the dawn of the city’s transformation to a sustainable water management future where every drop of local water is treated as essential,” Gold said in the release. “The transformation of the city’s four treatment plants to full water recycling can supply Los Angeles with approximately a third of our annual water supply: the most critical step in making this megacity a sustainable L.A.”

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti co-chairs the L.A. Sustainability Leadership Council, formed in partnership with UCLA and fellow co-chair, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

    “Conservation is about more than how we respond to a dry year — it should shape how we prepare our city for tomorrow,” Garcetti said. “Maximizing L.A.’s recycling capacity will increase the amount of water we source locally, and help to ensure that Angelenos can count on access to clean water for generations to come.”

    Gold anticipates that UCLA faculty working on wastewater research, such as professors Michael Stenstrom and Eric Hoek, who are part of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and David Jassby, an expert on water resources engineering, could be instrumental in developing and technologies that will help make such largescale wastewater recycling facilities financially and technologically feasible.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:28 am on February 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Ceramics, , Researchers create ultra-lightweight ceramic material that can better withstand extreme temperatures, UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Researchers create ultra-lightweight ceramic material that can better withstand extreme temperatures” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    February 14, 2019
    Matthew Chin

    UCLA-led team develops highly durable aerogel that could ultimately be an upgrade for insulation on spacecraft.

    1
    The new ceramic aerogel is so lightweight that it can rest on a flower without damaging it. Xiangfeng Duan and Xiang Xu/UCLA

    UCLA researchers and collaborators at eight other research institutions have created an extremely light, very durable ceramic aerogel. The material could be used for applications like insulating spacecraft because it can withstand the intense heat and severe temperature changes that space missions endure.

    Ceramic aerogels have been used to insulate industrial equipment since the 1990s, and they have been used to insulate scientific equipment on NASA’s Mars rover missions. But the new version is much more durable after exposure to extreme heat and repeated temperature spikes, and much lighter. Its unique atomic composition and microscopic structure also make it unusually elastic.

    When it’s heated, the material contracts rather than expanding like other ceramics do. It also contracts perpendicularly to the direction that it’s compressed — imagine pressing a tennis ball on a table and having the center of the ball move inward rather than expanding out — the opposite of how most materials react when compressed. As a result, the material is far more flexible and less brittle than current state-of-the-art ceramic aerogels: It can be compressed to 5 percent of its original volume and fully recover, while other existing aerogels can be compressed to only about 20 percent and then fully recover.

    The research, which was published today in Science, was led by Xiangfeng Duan, a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Yu Huang, a UCLA professor of materials science and engineering; and Hui Li of Harbin Institute of Technology, China. The study’s first authors are Xiang Xu, a visiting postdoctoral fellow in chemistry at UCLA from Harbin Institute of Technology; Qiangqiang Zhang of Lanzhou University; and Menglong Hao of UC Berkeley and Southeast University.

    Other members of the research team were from UC Berkeley; Purdue University; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Hunan University, China; Lanzhou University, China; and King Saud University, Saudi Arabia.

    Despite the fact that more than 99 percent of their volume is air, aerogels are solid and structurally very strong for their weight. They can be made from many types of materials, including ceramics, carbon or metal oxides. Compared with other insulators, ceramic-based aerogels are superior in blocking extreme temperatures, and they have ultralow density and are highly resistant to fire and corrosion — all qualities that lend themselves well to reusable spacecraft.

    But current ceramic aerogels are highly brittle and tend to fracture after repeated exposure to extreme heat and dramatic temperature swings, both of which are common in space travel.

    The new material is made of thin layers of boron nitride, a ceramic, with atoms that are connected in hexagon patterns, like chicken wire.

    In the UCLA-led research, it withstood conditions that would typically fracture other aerogels. It stood up to hundreds of exposures to sudden and extreme temperature spikes when the engineers raised and lowered the temperature in a testing container between minus 198 degrees Celsius and 900 degrees above zero over just a few seconds. In another test, it lost less than 1 percent of its mechanical strength after being stored for one week at 1,400 degrees Celsius.

    “The key to the durability of our new ceramic aerogel is its unique architecture,” Duan said. “Its innate flexibility helps it take the pounding from extreme heat and temperature shocks that would cause other ceramic aerogels to fail.”

    2
    Breath mint-sized samples of the ceramic aerogels developed by a UCLA-led research team. The material is 99 percent air by volume, making it super lightweight. Oszie Tarula/UCLA

    Ordinary ceramic materials usually expand when heated and contract when they are cooled. Over time, those repeated temperature changes can lead those materials to fracture and ultimately fail. The new aerogel was designed to be more durable by doing just the opposite — it contracts rather than expanding when heated.

    In addition, the aerogel’s ability to contract perpendicularly to the direction that it’s being compressed — like the tennis ball example — help it survive repeated and rapid temperature changes. (That property is known as a negative Poisson’s ratio.) It also has interior “walls” that are reinforced with a double-pane structure, which cuts down the material’s weight while increasing its insulating abilities.

    Duan said the process researchers developed to make the new aerogel also could be adapted to make other ultra-lightweight materials.

    “Those materials could be useful for thermal insulation in spacecraft, automobiles or other specialized equipment,” he said. “They could also be useful for thermal energy storage, catalysis or filtration.”

    The research was partly supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:38 pm on February 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Indonesia’s devastating 2018 earthquake was a rare ‘supershear’ according to UCLA-led study, , , UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Indonesia’s devastating 2018 earthquake was a rare ‘supershear,’ according to UCLA-led study” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    February 11, 2019

    Stuart Wolpert
    310-206-0511
    swolpert@stratcomm.ucla.edu

    1
    Pierre Prakash/European Union

    In supershear quakes, the rupture moves faster than the shear waves, which produces more energy in a shorter time, making supershears unusually destructive.

    The devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi last September was a rare “supershear” earthquake, according to a study led by UCLA researchers.

    Only a dozen supershear quakes have been identified in the past two decades, according to Lingsen Meng, UCLA’s Leon and Joanne V.C. Knopoff Professor of Physics and Geophysics and one of the report’s senior authors. The new study was published Feb. 4 in the journal Nature Geoscience.

    Meng and a team of scientists from UCLA, France’s Geoazur Laboratory, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech, and the Seismological Laboratory at Caltech analyzed the speed, timing and extent of the Palu earthquake. Using high-resolution observations of the seismic waves caused by the temblor, along with satellite radar and optical images, they found that the earthquake propagated unusually fast, which identified it as a supershear.

    Supershear earthquakes are characterized by the rupture in the earth’s crust moving very fast along a fault, causing the up-and-down or side-to-side waves that shake the ground — called seismic shear waves — to intensify. Shear waves are created in standard earthquakes, too, but in supershear quakes, the rupture moving faster than the shear waves produces more energy in a shorter time, which is what makes supershears even more destructive.

    “That intense shaking was responsible for the widespread landslides and liquefactions [the softening of soil caused by the shaking, which often causes buildings to sink into the mud] that followed the Palu earthquake,” Meng said.

    In fact, he said, the vibrations produced by the shaking of supershear earthquakes is analogous to the sound vibrations of the sonic boom produced by supersonic jets.

    2
    Lingsen Meng. Penny Jennings/UCLA

    UCLA graduate student Han Bao, the report’s first author, gathered publicly available ground-motion recordings from a sensor network in Australia — about 2,500 miles away from where the earthquake was centered — and used a UCLA-developed source imaging technique that tracks the growth of large earthquakes to determine its rupture speed. The technique is similar to how a smartphone user’s location can be determined by triangulating the times that phone signals arrive at cellphone antenna towers.

    “Our technique uses a similar idea,” Meng said. “We measured the delays between different seismic sensors that record the seismic motions at set locations.”

    The researchers could then use that to determine the location of the rupture at different times during the earthquake.

    They determined that the minute-long quake moved away from the epicenter at 4.1 kilometers per second (or about 2.6 miles per second), faster than the surrounding shear-wave speed of 3.6 kilometers per second (2.3 miles per second). By comparison, non-shear earthquakes more at about 60 percent of that speed — around 2.2 kilometers per second (1.3 miles per second), Meng said.

    Previous supershear earthquakes — like the magnitude 7.8 Kunlun earthquake in Tibet in 2001 and the magnitude 7.9 Denali earthquake in Alaska in 2002 — have occurred on faults that were remarkably straight, meaning that there were few obstacles to the quakes’ paths. But the researchers found on satellite images of the Palu quake that the fault line had two large bends. The temblor was so strong that the rupture was able to maintain a steady speed around these bends.

    That could be an important lesson for seismologists and other scientists who assess earthquake hazards.

    “If supershear earthquakes occur on nonplanar faults, as the Palu earthquake did, we have to consider the possibility of stronger shaking along California’s San Andreas fault, which has many bends, kinks and branches,” Meng said.

    Supershear earthquakes typically start at sub-shear speed and then speed up as they continue. But Meng said the Palu earthquake progressed at supershear speed almost from its inception, which would imply that there was high stress in the rocks surrounding the fault — and therefore stronger shaking and more land movement in a compressed amount of time than would in standard earthquakes.

    “Geometrically irregular rock fragments along the fault plane usually act as barriers preventing earthquakes,” Meng said. “However, if the pressure accumulates for a long time — for decades or even hundreds of years — an earthquake will eventually overcome the barriers and will go supershear right away.”

    Among the paper’s other authors are Tian Feng, a UCLA graduate student, and Hui Huang, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar. The UCLA researchers were supported by the National Science Foundation and the Leon and Joanne V.C. Knopoff Foundation.

    The other authors are Cunren Liang of the Seismological Laboratory at Caltech; Eric Fielding and Christopher Milliner of JPL at Caltech and Jean-Paul Ampuero of Geoazur.


    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network projectEarthquake Network is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

     
  • richardmitnick 2:48 pm on January 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Changes in RNA editing play an important role in the disorder scientists find, UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “UCLA-led team uncovers critical new clues about what goes awry in brains of people with autism” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    January 30, 2019
    Stuart Wolpert

    Changes in RNA editing play an important role in the disorder, scientists find.

    1
    The research of UCLA professors Xinshu (Grace) Xiao, Dr. Daniel Geschwind and their team is the first comprehensive study of RNA editing in autism spectrum disorder.

    A team of UCLA-led scientists has discovered important clues to what goes wrong in the brains of people with autism — a developmental disorder with no cure and for which scientists have no deep understanding of what causes it.

    The new insights involve RNA editing — in which genetic material is normal, but modifications in RNA alter nucleotides, whose patterns carry the data required for constructing proteins.

    “RNA editing is probably having a substantial physiologic effect in the brain, but is poorly understood,” said co-author Dr. Daniel Geschwind, UCLA’s Gordon and Virginia MacDonald distinguished professor of human genetics, neurology and psychiatry and director of UCLA’s Institute for Precision Health. “RNA editing is a mysterious area whose biological implications have not been much explored. We know what only a handful of these RNA editing sites do to proteins. This study gives a new critical clue in understanding what has gone awry in the brains of autism patients.”

    More than 24 million people worldwide are estimated to have autism. In developed countries, about 1.5 percent of children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder as of 2017. The disorder affects communication and behavior, and is marked by problems in social communication and social interaction, and repetitive behaviors.

    “We need to understand how a panoply of genetic and environmental factors converges to cause autism,” Geschwind said. “RNA editing is an important piece of the autism puzzle that has been totally under-appreciated.”

    The researchers analyzed brain samples from 69 people who died, about half of whom had autism spectrum disorder (which includes autism and related conditions), and about half of whom did not and served as a control group.

    Xinshu (Grace) Xiao, the senior author of the research and UCLA’s Maria R. Ross professor of integrative biology and physiology, and her research team analyzed seven billion nucleotides for each brain sample.

    Xiao’s team discovered reduced editing in the group members with autism. Specifically, they identified 3,314 editing sites in the brain’s frontal cortex in which the autism patients had different levels of RNA editing from the control group. In 2,308 of those sites, the individuals with autism had reduced RNA editing, said lead author Stephen Tran, a graduate student in UCLA’s bioinformatics interdepartmental program who works in Xiao’s laboratory. In the 1,006 others, they had increased levels of RNA editing, he added.

    3
    Stephen Tran. Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

    In the brain’s temporal cortex, the people with autism had different levels of RNA editing from the control group in 2,412 editing sites, with 1,471 of those sites showing reduced editing levels, Tran said. In the brain’s cerebellum, the autism group members had different levels of RNA editing from control group members in 4,340 sites, of which 3,330 sites in the autistic brain had decreased levels. All three of these brain regions are very important in autism.

    The research, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, is the first comprehensive study of RNA editing in autism spectrum disorder.

    Xiao said RNA editing can be thought of as RNA mutations, analogous to the DNA mutations that are linked to many diseases.

    “The same piece of DNA can generate multiple versions of RNA, and possibly lead to different protein sequences,” said Xiao, director of UCLA’s bioinformatics interdepartmental graduate program. “RNA editing allows cells to create novel protein sequences that are not written in the DNA.”

    Scientists had long assumed that a sequence of RNA is a faithful copy of a gene’s DNA sequence — and that RNA is merely the cellular messenger that carries out DNA’s instructions to other parts of the cell. “This assumption was proved to be wrong when RNA editing was first discovered in the 1980s,” Xiao said, “and we are finding many examples where the genetic codes we inherit from our parents are edited in our cells.”

    In another major finding, the researchers identified two proteins, called FMRP and FXR1P, that regulate abnormal RNA editing in autism spectrum disorder. FMRP increases RNA editing and FXR1P decreases RNA editing, Tran discovered. The autism group had reduced editing levels regulated by FMRP, as well as reduced RNA editing overall.

    “This is the first strong data showing a broad and direct functional role for FMRP and FXR1P in the human brain and autism,” Xiao said.

    “Something about what FMRP does is clearly critical to autism pathogenesis,” Geschwind said. “Grace and her team show that these two related proteins are likely responsible for the reduced RNA editing, as well as the occasional increased RNA editing.”

    It is currently unknown, he said, whether the changes the people with autism had in RNA editing caused their autism, contributed to the disorder or were a result of it. “We can’t assign causality,” said Geschwind, who praised the research of Xiao’s team as “elegant and brilliant.”

    RNA editing may also be disrupted in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. The research team plans to continue to study this as well as other brain diseases.

    Xiao and Tran replicated their findings by analyzing the frontal cortex from a different group of 22 people who had autism spectrum disorder and a control group of 23 without the disorder. They found the same pattern of editing reduction as they found originally, Tran said.

    The researchers found RNA editing alterations in genes of critical neurological relevance to autism, including CNTNAP2 and CNTNAP4, NRXN1 and NRXN3, ANK2, NOVA1 and RBFOX1.

    Xiao and Tran used powerful methods of bioinformatics and statistics to identify the RNA editing sites, including a method similar to GIREMI that Xiao designed in 2015 with Qing Zhang, a former postdoctoral scholar in her laboratory.

    In searching for causes of diseases, most research has focused on searching for mutations in the DNA. “What was missing, until recently,” Xiao said, “is to look for RNA mutations that are not coded in the DNA. These changes in the RNA could have similar impact as DNA mutations.”

    This study may eventually lead to new treatments for autism, but likely not for many years, the researchers said.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:33 am on October 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “The evolution of earthquake science” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    October 11, 2018

    1
    Jonathan Stewart, a professor in the UCLA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, at a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power facility.

    It’s a scene of post-mayhem disaster. In front of the Acacia residential building on the west end of the UCLA campus. Victims are everywhere, bleeding, confused, in and out of consciousness. A small boy in a baseball hat and shorts is laid out on a red tarp. “Very low pulse,” says one of the people who helped carry him over, before rushing back to the search and rescue. It’s hard to tell if anyone hears her, given the commotion. Nearby, a woman sits upright, a drop of blood rolling out of her ear and down her cheek, and another woman props her bloodied leg inside a makeshift cardboard splint.

    A few dozen first responders move victims onto colorcoded tarps — green for the most stable, yellow for those in need of a medic and red for the most critical. One of the vested first responders kneels beside the boy to check his pulse, and quickly stands up again. “We have a dead over here,” she calls out. But there’s no time to stop.

    This is the aftermath of a 6.8 magnitude earthquake centered on the Santa Monica Fault just south of campus. It’s the “big one” that Southern Californians had known could one day happen. That day is today.

    Except it’s not. The “victims” are all actors, the injuries painted on and the small boy alive and well. The first responders are volunteers from the Community Emergency Response Team, running a drill to test emergency response procedures on campus.

    While this 6.8 quake didn’t actually happen, through the work of researchers and scientists across UCLA, we know with certainty the probable impact of such a temblor, how to warn those who would feel its shaking, how to plan around its destructive power and even how to ensure that buildings like the Acacia dorms don’t fall. From the deepest motions of our planet’s structure to the foundations of our buildings to the crucial urban systems underpinning modern society, UCLA research is increasing our understanding of how the land beneath us moves and how to survive a major quake.

    It’s estimated that up to 3,000 people died in San Francisco in 1906 as a result of the 7.9 magnitude quake, and more than 140,000 died in the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake in Japan. Fortunately, in more recent years, particularly in the United States, earthquake-caused deaths have been relatively rare. Unlike in the past, when buildings crumbled and crushed the people inside, we now know how to construct buildings that can withstand quakes.

    We learned from buildings that fell. In 1994, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that struck in the San Fernando Valley destroyed or significantly damaged an estimated 90,000 buildings. Of the approximately 60 people killed, 33 were in buildings that fell. The most common were small apartment buildings perched over space left largely empty for parking. With enough shaking, the apartments come crashing down on the mostly hollow space below.

    Scott Brandenberg, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, studies the impact of earthquakes on the built environment. He lives in a soft story building.“It’s hard to find buildings in the area I can afford,” he says. Soft story buildings were not designed to resist earthquake forces specified in the current building code and should be evaluated for retrofit. A number of these buildings collapsed during the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

    Today, Brandenberg’s building, as well as thousands of others across the region, have been retrofitted through mandatory retrofit ordinances.

    Learning from the past is key to UCLA’s earthquake research across multiple fields. Brandenberg, for example, is creating an international database on liquefaction, the phenomenon sometimes observed during earthquakes in which soil flows like a liquid, causing land to slide and foundations of buildings to slip away. He and his colleagues are collecting case studies globally that shed light on the consequences of liquefaction. “We’ve never really had a database that was available to the whole community,” says Brandenberg. He hopes broad access to the data will help standardize the science behind liquefaction.

    Researchers can’t wait around for earthquakes to strike; the stakes are too high. Jonathan Stewart, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been collecting global data on earthquake impacts on levees and their associated drinking water systems. His major area: a 1,100-mile network of levees in California that directs water into the State Water Project’s drinking and agricultural water conveyances and prevents salt water intrusion from the San Francisco Bay.

    “A good 40 percent of the water in Southern California is coming through this system,” he says. “So the stability and viability of this system is really a big deal. For the system to work, the whole thing has to work. You can’t just analyze individual sections. So we’ve developed methods to do that.”

    Based on previous seismic activity near levee systems in places like Japan, Stewart and his colleagues can determine the dynamic properties of the peat that makes up much of the structure of the foundation beneath the levees in the Delta, learning how much levees can settle, which can lead to overtopping and cause erosion. They also determine how much soil to keep in reserve to patch breaches that occur. Add in computer modeling, and they can predict worst-case scenarios for disruptions to the system and plan how to respond.

    This type of systemic, model-based thinking is new for earthquake research, a field that has been largely based on observations of specific events. “[Research] was being done on a small-time basis: individual faculty and their grad students working on something, producing a paper, other people doing the same thing, and we get all these disparate documents out there,” Stewart explains. “And then somebody has to figure out what to do with it all. We’re trying to change the paradigm by which this research is done.”

    Practitioners outside the university who are applying this information to the real world say UCLA’s work is making a difference. Ronald T. Eguchi is president and CEO of Long Beach-based ImageCat, which creates earthquake maps and hazard exposure models for buildings and infrastructure. The company serves clients like NASA and FEMA, as well as private insurance companies. Eguchi says the data coming out of UCLA has helped make these maps more accurate.

    “Without [that UCLA] research, I don’t think we’d be able to come up with these quantitative assessments,” he says. “We use that information to [learn] what the extent of displacement or ground failure would be.”

    Useful data can come from surprising sources. Engineering Professor Ertugrul Taciroglu, who studies earthquake effects on urban infrastructure — ports, bridges, power lines — has developed a way to use the abundant images available from Google to visually analyze infrastructures and develop predictive simulation models to quantify their seismic risks.

    “My students and I developed computer codes that will locate each bridge and examine it through Google Street from multiple angles. Our algorithms extract key measurements, such as column heights and cross-sectional dimension. We use those measurements to create a structural analysis model. We intend to do that for all 25,000 bridges in California,” he says. These images are remarkably accurate. Taciroglu says he has checked his models using Google’s images against Caltrans’ original bridge blueprints, and the measurements match up at the sub-inch level.

    Google Earth also has been a rich source of data for power lines and other lifeline transmission corridors that provide electricity across the state. “I can create structural analysis models of power distribution networks by going around with my preprogrammed robot inside Google Earth and extracting where the transmission towers are, the length of the cables, the sag of the cables,” Taciroglu adds. “Because I know where they are, I know what kind of an earthquake shaking we can expect in the future for each structure.”

    Knowing how transmission lines may fail in a big earthquake can show, for example, what hospitals should be better equipped with backup power. Modeling which bridges could fail will help us understand how to prevent parts of cities from being cut off from essential services. Taciroglu says a dream project would be to integrate all this information into one massive model that encompasses the full complexity of an entire urban region and all its interrelated risks. Such a tool would be immensely valuable to government agencies, facility operators and insurance agencies.

    This kind of metropolitan-wide thinking may not be far off. A task force of UCLA earthquake researchers is developing plans to better integrate systems thinking and earthquake consciousness into the operations of city and county entities, such as utilities. “Lifeline infrastructure can be impacted by big earthquakes,” says Ken Hudnut, a geophysicist for Risk Reduction at the U.S. Geological Survey and a lecturer in UCLA’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who advises the L.A. Mayor’s Office of Resilience.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network projectEarthquake Network is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:43 am on September 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ELFIN-Electron Losses and Fields Investigation CubeSats, UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “UCLA students launch project that’s out of this world” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    September 11, 2018
    Rebecca Kendall

    1
    UCLA aims to be one of the few universities to ever complete such a sophisticated space science mission — designed and built by students — from beginning to end.

    Five years ago, a group of UCLA undergrads came together with a common goal — to build a small satellite and launch it into space. In the years since, more than 250 students — many of whom are now UCLA graduate students and alumni — have been the mechanical engineers, software developers, thermal and power testers, electronics technicians, mission planners and fabricators of the twin Electron Losses and Fields Investigation CubeSats, known as ELFIN.

    Although UCLA has been building space instruments for NASA and other international space missions for more than 40 years, and members of its faculty have been critical contributors to space science, ELFIN is the first satellite mission built, managed and operated entirely at UCLA. And even more impressive, just about all of it has been done by the students.

    This week, dozens of ELFINers (a nickname earned by those who’ve worked on the satellites), will drive about 150 miles up the California coast from Los Angeles to Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, to watch the product of their effort ascend into orbit.

    “Just seeing all the hundreds of hours of work, that not just myself but others too, have put into this project, the many sleepless nights, the stressing out that you’re not going to make a deadline — just seeing it go up there … I’m probably going to cry,” said Jessica Artinger, an astrophysics major and geophysics and planetary science minor who will begin her fifth year this fall.

    The two micro-satellites, each weighing about eight pounds and roughly the size of a loaf of bread, will help scientists better understand magnetic storms in near-Earth space. These storms are a typical form of “space weather” that is induced by solar activity, including flares and violent solar eruptions. Some solar outbursts can impact Earth, generating large amounts of invisible electromagnetic energy that transforms our local space environment.


    John Vande Wege/UCLA Broadcast Studio.

    “Magnetic storms are not just interesting space phenomena. They can energize electrons to high energies that can damage or even destroy orbiting satellites we depend on for GPS, communications and weather monitoring,” said Margaret Kivelson, UCLA professor emeritus of space physics. “They can also enhance space electrical currents which flow onto Earth, and could damage the power grid. Space weather research is also crucial for space tourism and space exploration.”

    Currently, scientists’ ability to accurately model and predict space weather is in its infancy, just like meteorology was at the turn of the last century. ELFIN will make headway toward better understanding these phenomena.

    ELFIN will go up as a secondary payload with the ICESat-2 mission at dawn on Saturday, Sept. 15, aboard the trusted Delta II, the final and hopefully 100th consecutive successful launch of this type of rocket. The launch will be streamed live on NASA TV’s YouTube channel, as well as on UCLA social media (follow #uclaELFIN).

    Following the launch, many ELFINers at Vandenberg will come back to the campus command center to eagerly await the first Bruin transmissions from space, which are expected about 10 hours after blast-off. UCLA students will be directly involved in day-to-day mission activities and will have privileged access to ELFIN’s data. They will track and command the satellite via a custom-built antenna atop Knudsen Hall and will download data directly to the mission operations center located in the Earth, planetary and space sciences department. The ELFIN website will have interactive tools so the public can track and listen to the spacecraft as it passes overhead twice a day. The CubeSats are expected to remain in space for two years, after which they will gradually fall out of orbit and burn up in the atmosphere like shooting stars.

    In fall 2017, as head of ELFIN’s fabrication team, Artinger led a small team that worked tirelessly in the EPSS prototyping lab using band saws, drill presses and a CNC machine (which is used to carve and smooth metal parts) to meticulously craft tightly toleranced components to meet their completion deadline.

    “There was a lot of working things out in your head before machining it, especially for safety reasons,” said Artinger, who gave a final inspection by painstakingly sanding each part and then re-measuring each and every hole, comparing them to the technical drawings for accuracy before sending them upstairs to the mechanical team for assembly. The aerospace-grade tolerance requirement across the 13.5-inch long spacecraft, she said, was two thousandths of an inch — about half the thickness of a standard sheet of paper. The team also had to machine the sensitive energetic particle detector frames to an incredibly precise 1/10,000 of an inch, she said.

    Artinger, a transfer student who graduated from Orange Coast College in 2016, plans to become a community college professor and can’t wait to use her ELFIN experience to inspire a new generation of students. She says ELFIN really opened her eyes to the power of mentoring through research and further solidified her commitment to teaching topics related to space science.

    “Maybe we can discover something at the community college I’ll be working at using the actual data from the satellite that I helped build,” she said. “That would be really cool.”

    Ethan Tsai learned about ELFIN when he was a UCLA sophomore. Despite having no background in space science, the former physics major started to work on simple tasks and gained the necessary skills to become the project’s attitude determination and control subsystem lead. Now studying for his master’s in electrical engineering, Tsai is ELFIN’s project manager.

    “I was pretty honored to be able to work on a mission like this,” he said, adding that he never imagined being involved in a NASA mission as an undergraduate. “It wasn’t until about two years into the project that I started to understand and appreciate the quality of the work we were doing and how it’s going to actually affect not just our mission and the students around us but the scientific community as a whole.”

    Tsai said he’s excited about the infrastructure he has helped create to make UCLA a “space campus,” supporting students who will work on future satellite missions.

    The project has been supported with funding from the National Science Foundation and NASA, with technical assistance from the Aerospace Corporation among other industry partners and universities.

    3
    CubeSats like ELFIN pack instruments into a loaf-of-bread sized satellite. UCLA.

    Those who have witnessed the aurora borealis and australis illuminate the skies, also known as the northern and southern lights, have experienced the beauty and power of space weather, likely without even knowing it.

    “The aurora is sort of a TV screen that shows us what happens out in space.” said Vassilis Angelopoulos, a UCLA space physicist who got his doctorate at UCLA and serves as ELFIN’s principal investigator. “Space physicists can tell if something interesting or important is going on in space by looking at the aurora.”

    ELFIN aims to observe the complex sequence whereby magnetic storms form waves near Earth, accelerating and forcing electrons to fall into the atmosphere, while a network of all-sky cameras across North America captures the resulting brightening of the auroral lights. The field of space science benefits from multi-satellite missions like ELFIN because of the ever-growing need to know about the dynamic conditions in space.

    “Just like with atmospheric weather,” Angelopoulos said, “you need multiple space weather buoys to feed their data into our space weather models and be able to make predictions of conditions in the future.”

    CubeSats fill this need because of their compact size, relative affordability ($300,000 compared to several hundred million dollars for a typical research satellite), and how quickly a team can go from prototyping to launch compared to standard-sized satellites. CubeSats uniquely allow students to witness end-to-end satellite mission development, testing and operations all within the span of their undergraduate studies.

    For ELFINers, being part of an endeavor of this magnitude is reward enough, but working on this project also has professional and scientific benefits, Angelopoulos said. In addition to the leadership, interpersonal, problem-solving and technical skills they’ve developed, ELFINers are also contributing to the production of knowledge, something that is incredibly valuable to society and to their careers as scientists and engineers.

    4
    Ethan Tsai works on the flight model assembly for the CubeSat ELFIN. UCLA.

    “As a researcher it’s important to not just analyze data that others collect, but to be involved in designing your own unique experiments to explore new key science questions. This is how space science started, with experiments on small rockets where students were involved in the nuts and bolts of them, and similarly with CubeSats, this is where the future of space science education is headed now,” Angelopoulos said.

    Building on the opportunities that exist here at UCLA, and knowing the impact that experiential learning can have on a student’s academic life, Angelopoulos wanted to find a way to bring CubeSat development into the undergraduate experience.

    “CubeSats are ideal because they create an environment where students from all walks of life, from all disciplines, can come together and practice what they’ve learned during their formal education in the context of a realistic environment,” Angelopoulos said. “This is exactly what academia, industry and research organizations around the country need — and they tell us that. This is the kind of experience they want in people who are applying to graduate school or who are applying to work in industrial firms because these are people who think on their feet and innovate.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:31 am on September 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Tandem solar cell design, UCLA Newsroom   

    From UCLA Newsroom: “Dual-layer solar cell developed at UCLA sets record for efficiently generating power” 


    From UCLA Newsroom

    August 30, 2018
    Matthew Chin

    1
    A solar cell developed by UCLA Engineering researchers converts 22.4 percent of incoming energy from the sun, a record for this type of cell. Oszie Tarula/UCLA

    Materials scientists from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering have developed a highly efficient thin-film solar cell that generates more energy from sunlight than typical solar panels, thanks to its double-layer design.

    The device is made by spraying a thin layer of perovskite — an inexpensive compound of lead and iodine that has been shown to be very efficient at capturing energy from sunlight — onto a commercially available solar cell. The solar cell that forms the bottom layer of the device is made of a compound of copper, indium, gallium and selenide, or CIGS.

    The team’s new cell converts 22.4 percent of the incoming energy from the sun, a record in power conversion efficiency for a perovskite–CIGS tandem solar cell. The performance was confirmed in independent tests at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (The previous record, set in 2015 by a group at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, was 10.9 percent.) The UCLA device’s efficiency rate is similar to that of the poly-silicon solar cells that currently dominate the photovoltaics market.

    The research, which was published today in Science, was led by Yang Yang, UCLA’s Carol and Lawrence E. Tannas Jr. Professor of Materials Science.

    2
    Qifeng Han, Yang Yang and Lei Meng. Oszie Tarula/UCLA

    “With our tandem solar cell design, we’re drawing energy from two distinct parts of the solar spectrum over the same device area,” Yang said. “This increases the amount of energy generated from sunlight compared to the CIGS layer alone.”

    Yang added that the technique of spraying on a layer of perovskite could be easily and inexpensively incorporated into existing solar-cell manufacturing processes.

    The cell’s CIGS base layer, which is about 2 microns (or two-thousandths of a millimeter) thick, absorbs sunlight and generates energy at a rate of 18.7 percent efficiency on its own, but adding the 1 micron-thick perovskite layer improves its efficiency — much like how adding a turbocharger to a car engine can improve its performance. The two layers are joined by a nanoscale interface that the UCLA researchers designed; the interface helps give the device higher voltage, which increases the amount of power it can export.

    And the entire assembly sits on a glass substrate that’s about 2 millimeters thick.

    “Our technology boosted the existing CIGS solar cell performance by nearly 20 percent from its original performance,” Yang said. “That means a 20 percent reduction in energy costs.”

    He added that devices using the two-layer design could eventually approach 30 percent power conversion efficiency. That will be the research group’s next goal.

    The study’s lead authors are Qifeng Han, a visiting research associate in Yang’s laboratory, and Yao-Tsung Hsieh and Lei Meng, who both recently earned their doctorates at UCLA. The study’s other authors are members of Yang’s research group and researchers from Solar Frontier Corp.’s Atsugi Research Center in Japan.

    The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Yang and his research group have been working on tandem solar cells for several years and their accomplishments include developing transparent tandem solar cells that could be used in windows.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

     
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