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  • richardmitnick 10:20 am on February 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "An optical coating like no other", A ‘FROC’ can both transmit and reflect the same color simultaneously- a breakthrough in optical coating., , Fano resonance, FROC-Fano Resonance in their Optical Coatings, , The narrowness of the reflected light is important because we want to have a very precise control of the wavelength., University of Rochester   

    From University of Rochester: “An optical coating like no other” 

    From University of Rochester

    February 4, 2021

    Bob Marcotte
    bmarcotte@ur.rochester.edu

    1
    Researchers in the lab of Chunlei Guo, a professor of optics at the University of Rochester, have developed an optical coating that exhibits the same color in reflection (pictured) and transmission. Credit: J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester.

    A ‘FROC’ can both transmit and reflect the same color simultaneously, a breakthrough in optical coating.

    For more than a century, optical coatings have been used to better reflect certain wavelengths of light from lenses and other devices or, conversely, to better transmit certain wavelengths through them. For example, the coatings on tinted eyeglasses reflect, or “block out,” harmful blue light and ultraviolet rays.

    But until now, no optical coating had ever been developed that could simultaneously reflect and transmit the same wavelength, or color.

    In a paper in Nature Nanotechnology, researchers at the University of Rochester and Case Western Reserve University describe a new class of optical coatings, so-called Fano Resonance Optical Coatings (FROCs), that can be used on filters to reflect and transmit colors of remarkable purity.

    In addition, the coating can be made to fully reflect only a very narrow wavelength range.

    “The narrowness of the reflected light is important because we want to have a very precise control of the wavelength,” says corresponding author Chunlei Guo, professor at Rochester’s Institute of Optics. “Before our technology, the only coating that could do this was a multilayered dielectric mirror, that is much thicker, suffers from a strong angular dependence, and far more expensive to make. Thus, our coating can be a low-cost and high-performance alternative.”


    An Optical Coating Like No Other

    The researchers envision a few applications for the new technology. For example, they show how FROCs could be used to separate thermal and photovoltaic bands of the solar spectrum. Such capability could improve the effectiveness of devices that use hybrid thermal-electric power generation as a solar energy option. “Directing only the useful band of the solar spectrum to a photovoltaic cell prevents its overheating,” says Guo.

    The technology could also lead to a six-fold increase in the life of a photovoltaic cell. And the rest of the spectrum “is absorbed as thermal energy, which could be used in other ways, including energy storage for night-time, electricity generation, solar-driven water sanitation, or heating up a supply of water,” Guo says.

    “These optical coatings can clearly do a lot of things that other coatings cannot do,” Guo adds. But as with other new discoveries, “it will take a little bit of time for us or other labs to further study this and come up with more applications.

    “Even when the laser was invented, people were initially confused about what to do with it. It was a novelty looking for an application.”

    Applying fano resonance to optical coatings

    Guo’s lab, the High-Intensity Femtosecond Laser Laboratory, is noted for its pioneering work in using femtosecond lasers to etch unique properties into metal surfaces.

    The FROC project resulted from a desire to explore “parallel” ways to create unique surfaces that do not involve laser etching. “Some applications are easier with laser, but others are easier without them,” Guo says.

    Fano resonance, named after the physicist Ugo Fano, is a widespread wave scattering phenomenon first observed as a fundamental principle of atomic physics involving electrons. Later, researchers discovered that the same phenomenon can also be observed in optical systems. “But this involved very complex designs,” Guo says.

    Guo and his colleagues found a simpler way to take advantage of Fano resonance in their optical coatings.

    They applied a thin, 15 nanometer-thick film of germanium to a metal surface, creating a surface capable absorbing a broad band of wavelengths. They combined that with a cavity that supports a narrowband resonance. The coupled cavities exhibit Fano resonance that is capable of reflecting a very narrow band of light.

    Other coauthors at the University of Rochester include lead author Mohamed ElKabbash and Jihua Zhang, both postdoctoral associates; Sohail Jalil and Chun-Hao Fann, both graduate students; and James Rutledge ’19, who worked on the project as an undergraduate major in optical engineering, all in the Guo lab. Coauthors at Case Western Reserve University include Giuseppe Strangi, professor of physics; Michael Hinczewski, associate professor of physics, and, from the Strangi lab, Andrew Lininger, PhD student, and Theodore Letsou and Nathaniel Hoffman, former undergraduate research assistants.

    The project was supported by funding from the Army Research Office, the National Science Foundation, and AlchLight.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Rochester

    The University of Rochester is one of the country’s top-tier research universities. Our 158 buildings house more than 200 academic majors, more than 2,000 faculty and instructional staff, and some 10,500 students—approximately half of whom are women.

    Learning at the University of Rochester is also on a very personal scale. Rochester remains one of the smallest and most collegiate among top research universities, with smaller classes, a low 10:1 student to teacher ratio, and increased interactions with faculty.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:40 am on January 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New research on carbon cracks open secrets deep inside exoplanets", , , , , , , Measuring carbon at the highest pressures ever achieved in a laboratory researchers report first model of carbon structures that may make up planets outside the solar system., Scientists have predicted that there are several new structures of carbon that could be found at pressures above 1000 gigapascals (GPa)., University of Rochester   

    From University of Rochester: “New research on carbon cracks open secrets deep inside exoplanets” 

    From University of Rochester

    1
    An artist’s rendering of 55 Cancri e, an exoplanet rich in carbon. For the first time in a laboratory setting, researchers—including the University of Rochester’s Gilbert (Rip) Collins and Ryan Rigg—have achieved extreme pressures that help them to understand the structure of carbon that sits in the interior of carbon-rich exoplanets like 55 Cancri e. Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech.

    Measuring carbon at the highest pressures ever achieved in a laboratory, researchers report first model of carbon structures that may make up planets outside the solar system.

    Carbon is one of the most prevalent elements in existence. As the fourth most abundant element in the universe, it’s a building block for all known life and forms the interior of carbon-rich exoplanets.

    Decades of research has shown that carbon’s crystal structure has a significant impact on a material’s properties. In addition to graphite and diamond—the most common carbon structures found at ambient pressures—scientists have predicted that there are several new structures of carbon that could be found at pressures above 1,000 gigapascals (GPa). The pressures, which are approximately 2.5 times the pressure in Earth’s core, are important for studying and modeling the interiors of exoplanets. However, it has historically been difficult to achieve such pressures in a laboratory setting and impossible to determine the structure of matter under those pressures.

    That is, until now.

    An international team of researchers, including researchers at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), has successfully measured carbon at pressures reaching 2,000 GPa (five times the pressure in Earth’s core), nearly doubling the maximum pressure at which carbon’s crystal structure has ever been directly probed. Their results were published in the journal Nature.

    University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics.


    U Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics.

    “This is the highest pressure any atomic structure has been measured, placing key constraints on the equation of state, material strength, melting, and chemical bonding of carbon,” says Gilbert (Rip) Collins, the Tracy Hyde Harris Professor of Mechanical Engineering and associate director of science, technology, and academics at the LLE. “In our studies of the many recently discovered and yet-to-be discovered massive, carbon-rich planets, we will have to consider the diamond structure of carbon at pressures well beyond its predicted stability range.”

    The research team, which was led by scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the University of Oxford, compressed solid carbon to 2,000 GPa using ramp-shaped laser pulses, simultaneously measuring the crystal structure using an X-ray diffraction platform to capture a nanosecond-duration snapshot of the atomic lattice. The experiments nearly double the record high pressure at which X-ray diffraction has been recorded on any material.

    The researchers found that even when subjected to the intense conditions, solid carbon retains its diamond structure, far beyond its range of predicted stability. The findings indicate that the strength of the molecular bonds in diamond persists even under enormous pressure, resulting in large energy barriers that hinder carbon’s conversion to other possible structures.

    “The diamond phase of carbon appears to be the most stubborn structure ever explored,” says Ryan Rygg, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and of physics and a senior scientist at the LLE. “This could have implications for carbon in the deep interiors of planets, where the precipitation of diamond is expected. Now we anticipate the diamond structure of carbon will persist over a much greater range of planetary conditions than we previously thought.”

    The collaboration and the suite of capabilities available at Rochester’s Laser Lab, the largest US Department of Energy university-based research program in the nation, and at Lawrence Livermore’s National Ignition Facility has in part led to the recently awarded Center for Matter at Atomic Pressures, hosted by the University of Rochester.


    National Ignition Facility at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

    The center, which is the first major initiative from the National Science Foundation in the field of high-energy-density science, focuses on understanding the physics and astrophysical implications of matter under pressures so high that the structure of individual atoms is disrupted.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Rochester

    The University of Rochester is one of the country’s top-tier research universities. Our 158 buildings house more than 200 academic majors, more than 2,000 faculty and instructional staff, and some 10,500 students—approximately half of whom are women.

    Learning at the University of Rochester is also on a very personal scale. Rochester remains one of the smallest and most collegiate among top research universities, with smaller classes, a low 10:1 student to teacher ratio, and increased interactions with faculty.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:53 pm on December 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Rochester researchers uncover key clues about the solar system’s history", , , , , It was solar wind that magnetized the bodies., Parent asteroids from which carbonaceous chondrite meteorites broke off arrived in the Asteroid Belt from the outer solar system about 4562 million years ago, , The Allende meteorite is the largest carbonaceous chondrite meteorite found on Earth., The research also gives scientists data that can be applied to the discovery of new exoplanets., The researchers first had to address a paradox about meteorites that was confounding the scientific community: how did the meteorites gain magnetization?, The researchers studied magnetic data collected from the Allende meteorite which fell to Earth and landed in Mexico in 1969., Today scientists realize that the gravitational forces associated with giant planets—such as Jupiter and Saturn—can drive the formation and migration of planetary bodies and asteroids., University of Rochester, Using magnetism to determine for the first time when carbonaceous chondrite asteroids—asteroids that are rich in water and amino acids—first arrived in the inner solar system.   

    From University of Rochester: “Rochester researchers uncover key clues about the solar system’s history” 

    From University of Rochester

    December 4, 2020

    New clues lead to a better understanding of the evolution of the solar system and the origin of Earth as a habitable planet.

    In a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications Earth and Environment, researchers at the University of Rochester were able to use magnetism to determine, for the first time, when carbonaceous chondrite asteroids—asteroids that are rich in water and amino acids—first arrived in the inner solar system. The research provides data that helps inform scientists about the early origins of the solar system and why some planets, such as Earth, became habitable and were able to sustain conditions conducive for life, while other planets, such as Mars, did not.

    2
    Illustration of solar wind flowing over asteroids in the early solar system. The magnetic field of the solar wind (white line/arrows) magnetizes the asteroid (red arrow). Researchers at the University of Rochester used magnetism to determine, for the first time, when carbonaceous chondrite asteroids first arrived in the inner solar system. Credit: University of Rochester illustration / Michael Osadciw).

    The research also gives scientists data that can be applied to the discovery of new exoplanets.

    “There is special interest in defining this history—in reference to the huge number of exoplanet discoveries—to deduce whether events might have been similar or different in exo-solar systems,” says John Tarduno, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and dean of research for Arts, Sciences & Engineering at Rochester. “This is another component of the search for other habitable planets.”

    Solving a paradox using a meteorite in Mexico

    Some meteorites are pieces of debris from outer space objects such as asteroids. After breaking apart from their “parent bodies,” these pieces are able to survive passing through the atmosphere and eventually hit the surface of a planet or moon.

    Studying the magnetization of meteorites can give researchers a better idea of when the objects formed and where they were located early in the solar system’s history.

    “We realized several years ago that we could use the magnetism of meteorites derived from asteroids to determine how far these meteorites were from the sun when their magnetic minerals formed,” Tarduno says.

    In order to learn more about the origin of meteorites and their parent bodies, Tarduno and the researchers studied magnetic data collected from the Allende meteorite, which fell to Earth and landed in Mexico in 1969.

    4
    A 520g individual of the Allende meteorite shower. Allende is a carbonaceous chondrite (CV3) that fell on 1969 February 8 in Mexico. This specimen is approx. 8 centimeters wide. Note the patches of dull black fusion crust. Severals condrules and CAIs can be seen embedded in the gray matrix. Credit: H. Raab

    The Allende meteorite is the largest carbonaceous chondrite meteorite found on Earth and contains minerals—calcium-aluminum inclusions—that are thought to be the first solids formed in the solar system. It is one of the most studied meteorites and was considered for decades to be the classic example of a meteorite from a primitive asteroid parent body.

    In order to determine when the objects formed and where they were located, the researchers first had to address a paradox about meteorites that was confounding the scientific community: how did the meteorites gain magnetization?

    Recently, a controversy arose when some researchers proposed that carbonaceous chondrite meteorites like Allende had been magnetized by a core dynamo, like that of Earth. Earth is known as a differentiated body because it has a crust, mantle, and core that are separated by composition and density. Early in their history, planetary bodies can gain enough heat so that there is widespread melting and the dense material—iron—sinks to the center.

    New experiments by Rochester graduate student Tim O’Brien, the first author of the paper, found that magnetic signals interpreted by prior researchers was not actually from a core. Instead, O’Brien found, the magnetism is a property of Allende’s unusual magnetic minerals.

    Determining Jupiter’s role in asteroid migration

    Having solved this paradox, O’Brien was able to identify meteorites with other minerals that could faithfully record early solar system magnetizations.

    Tarduno’s magnetics group then combined this work with theoretical work from Eric Blackman, a professor of physics and astronomy, and computer simulations led by graduate student Atma Anand and Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback, a computational scientist at Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics.

    U Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics

    These simulations showed that solar winds draped around early solar system bodies and it was this solar wind that magnetized the bodies.

    Using these simulations and data, the researchers determined that the parent asteroids from which carbonaceous chondrite meteorites broke off arrived in the Asteroid Belt from the outer solar system about 4,562 million years ago, within the first five million years of solar system history.

    Tarduno says the analyses and modeling offers more support for the so-called grand tack theory of the motion of Jupiter. While scientists once thought planets and other planetary bodies formed from dust and gas in an orderly distance from the sun, today scientists realize that the gravitational forces associated with giant planets—such as Jupiter and Saturn—can drive the formation and migration of planetary bodies and asteroids. The grand tack theory suggests that asteroids were separated by the gravitational forces of the giant planet Jupiter, whose subsequent migration then mixed the two asteroid groups.

    He adds, “This early motion of carbonaceous chondrite asteroids sets the stage for further scattering of water-rich bodies—potentially to Earth—later in the development of the solar system, and it may be a pattern common to exoplanet systems.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Rochester

    The University of Rochester is one of the country’s top-tier research universities. Our 158 buildings house more than 200 academic majors, more than 2,000 faculty and instructional staff, and some 10,500 students—approximately half of whom are women.

    Learning at the University of Rochester is also on a very personal scale. Rochester remains one of the smallest and most collegiate among top research universities, with smaller classes, a low 10:1 student to teacher ratio, and increased interactions with faculty.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:05 pm on November 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Building a quantum network one node at a time", An important step toward developing a communications network that exchanges information across long distances by using photons., , , New research demonstrates a way to use quantum properties of light to transmit information., , , University of Rochester, Van der Waals heterostructures   

    From University of Rochester: “Building a quantum network one node at a time” 

    From University of Rochester

    November 3, 2020
    Bob Marcotte
    bmarcotte@ur.rochester.edu

    1
    This illustration of a nanoscale node created by the lab of Nick Vamivakas, professor of quantum optics and quantum physics, shows a closeup of one of an array pillars, each a mere 120 nanometers high. Each pillar serves as a location marker for a quantum state that can interact with photons. A novel alignment of tungsten diselenide (WSe2) is draped over the pillars with an underlying, highly reactive layer of chromium triiodide (CrI3). Where the atomically thin, 12-micron area layers touch, the CrI3 imparts an electric charge to the WSe2, creating a “hole” alongside each of the pillars. Credit: University of Rochester Michael Osadciw.

    New research demonstrates a way to use quantum properties of light to transmit information, a key step on the path to the next generation of computing and communications systems.

    Researchers at the University of Rochester and Cornell University have taken an important step toward developing a communications network that exchanges information across long distances by using photons, mass-less measures of light that are key elements of quantum computing and quantum communications systems.

    The research team has designed a nanoscale node made out of magnetic and semiconducting materials that could interact with other nodes, using laser light to emit and accept photons.

    The development of such a quantum network—designed to take advantage of the physical properties of light and matter characterized by quantum mechanics—promises faster, more efficient ways to communicate, compute, and detect objects and materials as compared to networks currently used for computing and communications.

    Described in the journal Nature Communications, the node consists of an array of pillars a mere 120 nanometers high. The pillars are part of a platform containing atomically thin layers of semiconductor and magnetic materials.

    The array is engineered so that each pillar serves as a location marker for a quantum state that can interact with photons and the associated photons can potentially interact with other locations across the device—and with similar arrays at other locations. This potential to connect quantum nodes across a remote network capitalizes on the concept of entanglement, a phenomenon of quantum mechanics that, at its very basic level, describes how the properties of particles are connected at the subatomic level.

    “This is the beginnings of having a kind of register, if you like, where different spatial locations can store information and interact with photons,” says Nick Vamivakas, professor of quantum optics and quantum physics at Rochester.

    Toward ‘miniaturizing a quantum computer’

    The project builds on work the Vamivakas Lab has conducted in recent years using tungsten diselenide (WSe2) in so-called Van der Waals heterostructures. That work uses layers of atomically thin materials on top of each other to create or capture single photons.

    The new device uses a novel alignment of WSe2 draped over the pillars with an underlying, highly reactive layer of chromium triiodide (CrI3). Where the atomically thin, 12-micron area layers touch, the CrI3 imparts an electric charge to the WSe2, creating a “hole” alongside each of the pillars.

    In quantum physics, a hole is characterized by the absence of an electron. Each positively charged hole also has a binary north/south magnetic property associated with it, so that each is also a nanomagnet

    When the device is bathed in laser light, further reactions occur, turning the nanomagnets into individual optically active spin arrays that emit and interact with photons. Whereas classical information processing deals in bits that have values of either 0 or 1, spin states can encode both 0 and 1 at the same time, expanding the possibilities for information processing.

    “Being able to control hole spin orientation using ultrathin and 12-micron large CrI3, replaces the need for using external magnetic fields from gigantic magnetic coils akin to those used in MRI systems,“ says lead author and graduate student Arunabh Mukherjee. “This will go a long way in miniaturizing a quantum computer based on single hole spins. “

    Still to come: Entanglement at a distance?

    Two major challenges confronted the researchers in creating the device.

    One was creating an inert environment in which to work with the highly reactive CrI3. This was where the collaboration with Cornell University came into play. “They have a lot of expertise with the chromium triiodide and since we were working with that for the first time, we coordinated with them on that aspect of it,” Vamivakas says. For example, fabrication of the CrI3 was done in nitrogen-filled glove boxes to avoid oxygen and moisture degradation.

    The other challenge was determining just the right configuration of pillars to ensure that the holes and spin valleys associated with each pillar could be properly registered to eventually link to other nodes.

    And therein lies the next major challenge: finding a way to send photons long distances through an optical fiber to other nodes, while preserving their properties of entanglement.

    “We haven’t yet engineered the device to promote that kind of behavior,” Vamivakas says. “That’s down the road.”

    In addition to Vamivakas and Mukherjee, other coauthors of the paper include lead authors Kamran Shayan of Vamivakas’ lab and Lizhong Li, Jie Shan, and Kin Fai Mak at Cornell University.

    The National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Department of Energy supported the project with funding.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Rochester

    The University of Rochester is one of the country’s top-tier research universities. Our 158 buildings house more than 200 academic majors, more than 2,000 faculty and instructional staff, and some 10,500 students—approximately half of whom are women.

    Learning at the University of Rochester is also on a very personal scale. Rochester remains one of the smallest and most collegiate among top research universities, with smaller classes, a low 10:1 student to teacher ratio, and increased interactions with faculty.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:15 pm on October 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "University expands access to OMEGA EP laser with Energy Department’s LaserNetUS initiative", , , University of Rochester   

    From University of Rochester: “University expands access to OMEGA EP laser with Energy Department’s LaserNetUS initiative” 

    From University of Rochester

    October 28, 2020

    Lindsey Valich
    lvalich@ur.rochester.edu

    1
    The OMEGA EP laser at the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics—a four-beam, high-energy and high-intensity laser—is one of the most powerful in the world. Credit: University of Rochester LLE photo / Eugene Kowaluk)

    The University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) is one of 10 recipients in the LaserNetUS that has recently been granted a three-year collective award of $18 million from the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES).

    The funds, which will be distributed among the 10 participating institutions, will allow the LLE and the other nine LaserNetUS partner organizations to expand user access to their laser facilities for frontier research and student training. The findings from these experiments could have a broad range of applications in basic research, advanced manufacturing, and medicine.

    Of the total $18 million for three years, $17 million will be devoted to funding facility operations, with an additional $1 million to provide user support, such as travel expenses.

    The DOE established LaserNetUS, a network of facilities operating ultra-powerful lasers, in 2018. The new network was created to provide vastly improved access to unique lasers for researchers, and to help restore the US’s once-dominant position in high-intensity laser research. LLE, home of the Omega Laser Facility, was included in the network.

    “We are honored and excited to have one of our lasers, the four-beam, high-energy, and high-intensity OMEGA EP laser, as part of the LaserNetUS network,” says Michael Campbell, director of Rochester’s LLE. “We congratulate FES for the vision and continued commitment that will enable the US to maintain world leading science and educate future leaders in this important field.”

    Six LaserNetUS user experiments have already been successfully conducted at LLE over the last 12 months. With the new funding, LLE will continue to provide LaserNetUS users with time on the OMEGA EP laser beam over the next three years.

    The LaserNetUS network of high-intensity lasers

    What is LaserNetUS?

    LaserNetUS, established by the Department of Energy in 2018, is a network of the most powerful laser facilities in North America, and designed to accelerate research in the field of high-energy-density plasma science by expanding use of the specialized laser facilities essential to such studies.

    In addition to the University of Rochester’s OMEGA EP laser, LaserNetUS includes facilities at Colorado State University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, SLAC National Laboratory, The Ohio State University, University of Michigan, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, and University of Texas at Austin.

    LaserNetUS includes the most powerful lasers in the US and Canada, some of which have powers approaching or exceeding a petawatt. Petawatt lasers generate light with at least a million billion watts of power, or nearly 100 times the combined output of all the world’s power plants but compressed in the briefest of bursts. These lasers fire off ultrafast pulses of light shorter than a tenth of a trillionth of a second.

    All facilities in LaserNetUS operate high-intensity lasers, which have a broad range of applications in basic research, advanced manufacturing, and medicine. The lasers can recreate some of the most extreme conditions in the universe, such as those found in supernova explosions and near black holes. They can generate particle beams for high-energy-density physics research or intense x-ray pulses to probe matter as it evolves on ultrafast time scales.

    2
    Map showing the locations of the ten LaserNetUS facilities. Credit: University of Rochester LLE image / Jennifer Hamson.

    The lasers are also being used to develop new technology, such as techniques to generate intense neutron bursts to evaluate aging aircraft components or implement advanced laser-based welding. Several LaserNetUS facilities, including LLE, also operate high-energy longer-pulse lasers that can produce exotic and extreme states of matter like those in planetary interiors or many-times-compressed materials; they can also be used to study laser-plasma interaction, which is important to fusion energy programs.

    In its first year of user operations, LaserNetUS awarded beamtime for 49 user experiments to researchers from 25 different institutions. More than 200 user scientists, including more than 100 students and post-docs, have participated in experiments so far. All proposals are peer reviewed by an independent external panel of national and international experts.

    “LaserNetUS initiative is a shining example of a scientific community coming together to advance the frontiers of research, provide students and scientists with broad access to unique facilities and enabling technologies, and foster collaboration among researchers and networks from around the world,” says James Van Dam, DOE Associate Director of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences. “We are very excited to work with all of these outstanding institutions as partners in this initiative.”

    The US has been a pioneer in high intensity laser technology, and the LLE was home to research by Donna Strickland and Gerard Mourou that was recognized by the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. The network and future upgrades to LaserNetUS facilities will provide new opportunities for US and international scientists in discovery science and in the development of new technologies.

    About the University’s Laser Lab

    The LLE was established at the University in 1970 and is the largest U.S. Department of Energy university-based research program in the nation supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration as an integral part of its Stockpile Stewardship Program.

    As a center for the investigation of the interaction of intense radiation with matter, LLE is a unique national resource for research and education in science and technology. Current research includes exploring fusion as a future source of energy, developing new laser and materials technologies, and better understanding high-energy-density phenomena. In addition to its vital roles in various areas of scientific research and its support of the local high-tech economy, the LLE plays an important role in educating the next generation of scientists and engineers.

    As the DOE National Laser Users’ Facility (NLUF), LLE hosts scientists and students from across the nation and around the world to carry out fundamental research, training, and education. Additional facility access for qualified external researchers is made possible through LLE’s participation in LaserNetUS.

    See the full article here.

    See the full article from LBNL here.

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Rochester

    The University of Rochester is one of the country’s top-tier research universities. Our 158 buildings house more than 200 academic majors, more than 2,000 faculty and instructional staff, and some 10,500 students—approximately half of whom are women.

    Learning at the University of Rochester is also on a very personal scale. Rochester remains one of the smallest and most collegiate among top research universities, with smaller classes, a low 10:1 student to teacher ratio, and increased interactions with faculty.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:19 am on October 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a way to see molecules ‘wobble’", , CHIDO—“Coordinate and Height super-resolution Imaging with Dithering and Orientation”, , , , University of Rochester   

    From University of Rochester: “Finally, a way to see molecules ‘wobble’” 

    From University of Rochester

    October 22, 2020
    Bob Marcotte
    bmarcotte@ur.rochester.edu

    1
    A new microscopy system that can can image individual molecules in 3D and capture the way they “wobble” uses a specially engineered glass plate developed by University of Rochester optical scientists. Credit: University of Rochester-J. Adam Fenster.

    Microscopy breakthrough reveals how proteins behave in 3D, enabling new insights into cell behavior and disease progression.

    Six years ago, the Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to three scientists for finding ways to visualize the pathways of individual molecules inside living cells.

    Now, researchers at the University of Rochester and the Fresnel Institute in France have found a way to visualize those molecules in even greater detail, showing their position and orientation in 3D, and even how they wobble and oscillate. The work could shed invaluable insights into the biological processes involved, for example, when a cell and the proteins that regulate its functions react to the virus that causes COVID-19.

    “When a protein changes shape, it exposes other atoms that enhance the biological process, so the change of shape of a protein has a huge effect on other processes inside the cell,” says Sophie Brasselet, director of the Fresnel Institute, who collaborated with Miguel Alonso and Thomas Brown, both professors of optics at Rochester.

    Nicknamed CHIDO—for “Coordinate and Height super-resolution Imaging with Dithering and Orientation”—the technology is described in a new paper published in Nature Communications. Designed and built by lead authors Valentina Curcio, a PhD student in Brasselet’s group, and Luis Aleman-Castaneda, a PhD student in Alonso’s group, CHIDO is precise within “tens of nanometers in position and a few degrees of orientation” in determining the parameters of single molecules,” the team reports.

    Using a glass plate subjected to uniform stress all around its periphery, the device can create and extrapolate wavelength oscillations and changes in polarization that occur when molecules are observed in a fluorescence microscope. The new technology transforms the image of a single molecule into a distorted focal spot, the shape of which directly encodes more precise 3D information than previous measurement tools. In effect, CHIDO can produce beams that have every possible polarization state.

    “This is one of the beauties of optics,” Brown says. “If you have a device that can create just about any polarization state, then you also have a device that can analyze just about any possible polarization state.”

    The glass plate originated in Brown’s lab as part of his long interest in developing beams with unusual polarizations. Alonso, an expert on the theory of polarization, worked with Brown on ways to refine this “very simple but very elegant device” and expand its applications. During a visit to Marseille, Alonso described the plate to Brasselet, an expert in novel instrumentation for fluorescence and nonlinear imaging. Brasselet immediately suggested its possible use in the microscopy techniques she was working on to image individual molecules.

    “It’s been a very complementary team,” Brasselet says.

    20 years in the making

    In 1873, Ernst Abbe stipulated that microscopes would never obtain better resolution than half the wavelength of light. That barrier stood until Nobel laureates Eric Betzig and William Moerner—with their single-molecule microscopy—and Stefan Hell—with his stimulated emission depletion microscopy—found ways to bypass it.

    “Due to their achievements the optical microscope can now peer into the nanoworld,” the Nobel committee reported in 2014.

    “What was missing in that Nobel Prize and the work in subsequent years was the ability to not only accurately know the location of a molecule, but to be able to characterize its direction and especially its motion in three dimensions,” Brown says.

    In fact, the solution Brown, Alonso, and Brasselet now describe had its origins 20 years ago.

    Starting in 1999, Brown and one of his PhD students, Kathleen Youngworth, began investigating unusual optical beams that displayed unusual patterns of optical polarization, the orientation of the optical wave. Some of the beams exhibited a spoke-like radial pattern with intriguing properties.

    Youngworth demonstrated on a tabletop that, when tightly focused, the beams exhibited polarization components that pointed in almost any direction in three dimensions.

    Alexis Spilman Vogt, another PhD candidate, then worked with Brown on creating the same effects by applying stress to the edges of a glass cylinder. Brown’s brother-in-law, Robert Sampson, a skilled tool and die specialist, was called upon to fabricate some samples and fit them in metal rings for use with a confocal microscope.

    This involved heating both the glass and metal rings. “Metal expands at a faster rate when you heat it than glass does,” Brown says, “and so you could heat the glass and metal up very hot, insert the glass in the middle of the metal, and as it cools down the metal would shrink and create a tremendous force on the periphery of the glass.”

    Sampson inadvertently applied more stress than called for with one of the plates. As soon as his brother-in-law handed it to him, Brown knew the plate had unusual qualities. The Rochester group introduced the term “stress engineered optic” to describe the elements and, as they learned more about both the physical behavior and the mathematics, they realized that the windows could be the path the solving entirely new problems in microscopy.

    And that was the origin of what is now CHIDO, which, coincidently, happens to be Mexican slang for “cool.”

    “At the time Alexis and I knew the stress-engineered glass was interesting, and would likely have useful applications; we just didn’t know at the time what they might be,” Brown says. Now, thanks to his collaboration with Alonso and Brasselet, he hopes CHIDO will “catch the imagination” of other researchers in the field who can help further refine and apply the technology.

    The research was supported with funding from the National Science Foundation, the Excellence Initiative of Aix-Marseille University, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, and the CONACYT Doctoral Fellowship program.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Rochester

    The University of Rochester is one of the country’s top-tier research universities. Our 158 buildings house more than 200 academic majors, more than 2,000 faculty and instructional staff, and some 10,500 students—approximately half of whom are women.

    Learning at the University of Rochester is also on a very personal scale. Rochester remains one of the smallest and most collegiate among top research universities, with smaller classes, a low 10:1 student to teacher ratio, and increased interactions with faculty.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:07 pm on October 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Room-temperature superconductivity has been achieved for the first time", , , , University of Rochester   

    From MIT Technology Review: “Room-temperature superconductivity has been achieved for the first time” 

    From MIT Technology Review

    October 14, 2020
    Konstantin Kakaes

    1
    Equipment used to create a room-temperature superconductor, including a diamond anvil cell (blue box) and laser arrays, is pictured in the University of Rochester lab of Ranga Dias. Credit: Adam Fenster.

    It was in a tiny sample under extremely high pressure, so don’t start dismantling the world’s energy infrastructure quite yet.

    Room-temperature superconductors—materials that conduct electricity with zero resistance without needing special cooling—are the sort of technological miracle that would upend daily life. They could revolutionize the electric grid and enable levitating trains, among many other potential applications. But until now, superconductors have had to be cooled to extremely low temperatures, which has restricted them to use as a niche technology (albeit an important one). For decades it seemed that room-temperature superconductivity might be forever out of reach, but in the last five years a few research groups around the world have been engaged in a race to attain it in the lab.

    One of them just won.

    In a paper published today in Nature, researchers report achieving room-temperature superconductivity in a compound containing hydrogen, sulfur, and carbon at temperatures as high as 58 °F (13.3 °C, or 287.7 K). The previous highest temperature had been 260 K, or 8 °F, achieved by a rival group at George Washington University and the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC, in 2018. (Another group at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, achieved 250 K, or -9.7 °F, at around this same time.) Like the previous records, the new record was attained under extremely high pressures—roughly two and a half million times greater than that of the air we breathe.

    “It’s a landmark,” says José Flores-Livas, a computational physicist at the Sapienza University of Rome, who creates models that explain high-temperature superconductivity and was not directly involved in the work. “In a couple of years,” he says, “we went from 200 [K] to 250 and now 290. I’m pretty sure we will reach 300.”

    Electric currents are flowing electric charges, most commonly made up of electrons. Conductors like copper wires have lots of loosely bound electrons. When an electric field is applied, those electrons flow relatively freely. But even good conductors like copper have resistance: they heat up when carrying electricity.

    Superconductivity—in which electrons flow through a material without resistance—sounds impossible at first blush. It’s as though one could drive at high speed through a congested city center, never hitting a traffic light. But in 1911, Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes found that mercury becomes a superconductor when cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero (about -460 °F, or -273 °C). He soon observed the phenomenon in other metals like tin and lead.

    For many decades afterwards, superconductivity was created only at extremely low temperatures. Then, in late 1986 and early 1987, a group of researchers at IBM’s Zurich laboratory found that certain ceramic oxides can be superconductors at temperatures as high as 92 K—crucially, over the boiling temperature of liquid nitrogen, which is 77 K. This transformed the study of superconductivity, and its applications in things like hospital MRIs, because liquid nitrogen is cheap and easy to handle. (Liquid helium, though colder, is much more finicky and expensive.) The huge leap in the 1980s led to feverish speculation that room-temperature superconductivity might be possible. But that dream had proved elusive until the research being reported today.

    Under pressure

    One way that superconductors work is when the electrons flowing through them are “coupled” to phonons—vibrations in the lattice of atoms the material is made out of. The fact that the two are in sync, theorists believe, allows electrons to flow without resistance. Low temperatures can create the circumstances for such pairs to form in a wide variety of materials. In 1968, Neil Ashcroft, of Cornell University, posited that under high pressures, hydrogen would also be a superconductor. By forcing atoms to pack closely together, high pressures change the way electrons behave and, in some circumstances, enable electron-phonon pairs to form.

    Scientists have for decades sought to understand just what those circumstances are, and to figure out what other elements might be mixed in with hydrogen to achieve superconductivity at progressively higher temperatures and lower pressures.

    In the work reported in today’s paper, researchers from the University of Rochester and colleagues first mixed carbon and sulfur in a one-to-one ratio, milled the mixture down to tiny balls, and then squeezed those balls between two diamonds while injecting hydrogen gas. A laser was shined at the compound for several hours to break down bonds between the sulfur atoms, thus changing the chemistry of the system and the behavior of electrons in the sample. The resulting crystal is not stable at low pressures—but it is superconducting. It is also very small—under the high pressures at which it superconducts, it is about 30 millionths of a meter in diameter.

    The exact details of why this compound works are not fully understood—the researchers aren’t even sure exactly what compound they made. But they are developing new tools to figure out what it is and are optimistic that once they are able to do so, they will be able to tweak the composition so that the compound might remain superconducting even at lower pressures.

    Getting down to 100 gigapascal—about half of the pressures used in today’s Nature paper—would make it possible to begin industrializing “super tiny sensors with very high resolution,” Flores-Livas speculates. Precise magnetic sensors are used in mineral prospecting and also to detect the firing of neurons in the human brain, as well as in fabricating new materials for data storage. A low-cost, precise magnetic sensor is the type of technology that doesn’t sound sexy on its own but makes many others possible.

    And if these materials can be scaled up from tiny pressurized crystals into larger sizes that work not only at room temperature but also at ambient pressure, that would be the beginning of an even more profound technological shift. Ralph Scheicher, a computational modeler at Uppsala University in Sweden, says that he would not be surprised if this happened “within the next decade.”

    Resistance is futile

    The ways in which electricity is generated, transmitted, and distributed would be fundamentally transformed by cheap and effective room-temperature superconductors bigger than a few millionths of a meter. About 5% of the electricity generated in the United States is lost in transmission and distribution, according to the Energy Information Administration. Eliminating this loss would, for starters, save billions of dollars and have a significant climate impact. But room-temperature superconductors wouldn’t just change the system we have—they’d enable a whole new system. Transformers, which are crucial to the electric grid, could be made smaller, cheaper, and more efficient. So too could electric motors and generators. Superconducting energy storage is currently used to smooth out short-term fluctuations in the electric grid, but it still remains relatively niche because it takes a lot of energy to keep superconductors cold. Room-temperature superconductors, especially if they could be engineered to withstand strong magnetic fields, might serve as very efficient way to store larger amounts of energy for longer periods of time, making renewable but intermittent energy sources like wind turbines or solar cells more effective.

    And because flowing electricity creates magnetic fields, superconductors can also be used to create powerful magnets for applications as diverse as MRI machines and levitating trains. Superconductors are of great potential importance in the nascent field of quantum computing, too. Superconducting qubits are already the basis of some of the world’s most powerful quantum computers. Being able to make such qubits without having to cool them down would not only make quantum computers simpler, smaller, and cheaper, but could lead to more rapid progress in creating systems of many qubits, depending on the exact properties of the superconductors that are created.

    All these applications are in principle attainable with superconductors that need to be cooled to low temperatures in order to work. But if you have to cool them so radically, you lose many—in some cases all—of the benefits you get from the lack of electrical resistance. It also makes them more complicated, expensive, and prone to failure.

    It remains to be seen whether scientists can devise stable compounds that are superconducting not only at ambient temperature, but also at ambient pressure. But the researchers are optimistic. They conclude their paper with this tantalizing claim: “A robust room-temperature superconducting material that will transform the energy economy, quantum information processing and sensing may be achievable.”

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The mission of MIT Technology Review is to equip its audiences with the intelligence to understand a world shaped by technology.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:34 am on August 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Experiments replicate high densities in ‘white dwarf’ star remnants", , , , Simulating the crushing pressure created as stars cease to produce their own fuel leaving only an extremely dense core., University of Rochester,   

    From University of Rochester: “Experiments replicate high densities in ‘white dwarf’ star remnants” 

    From University of Rochester

    August 16, 2020
    Bob Marcotte
    bmarcotte@ur.rochester.edu

    1
    To study the pressures created by white dwarf stars, researchers fired nanometer laser light into a hohlraum—a tiny gold cylinder—bathing a 1 mm sample of a carbon-based compound in radiation heated to nearly 3.5 million degrees, at pressures ranging from 100 to 450 million atmospheres. (Illustration courtesy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.)

    Work to understand astrophysical processes may offer ideas for creating new materials on Earth.

    For the first time, researchers have found a way to describe conditions deep in the convection zone of “white dwarf” stars, which are home to some of the densest collections of matter in the Universe.

    In a project conducted at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the research team, including University of Rochester engineering professor Gilbert (Rip) Collins, simulated the crushing pressure created as stars cease to produce their own fuel, leaving only an extremely dense core.

    National Ignition Facility at LLNL


    “This is the first time we have been able to lock down an equation of state, describing the behavior of matter that is intrinsic to white dwarf stars, in particular the regime in a part of white dwarfs where oscillations occur that have been particularly difficult to model,” says Collins, who was a coauthor on the team’s paper published in Nature Research.

    Collins is the director of science, technology, and academics at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics and is the Tracy Hyde Harris Professor of Mechanical Engineering and is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

    University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics

    The results are important because they add to the growing body of evidence being collected by high-energy-density researchers about the formation and evolution of planets, stars, and other astrophysical bodies, which in turn can suggest possible approaches to creating novel materials in laboratories on Earth.

    “Decades ago, underground nuclear tests made a couple of measurements in a similar regime, but now we’re able to do this with a much higher level of accuracy and precision,” says Collins.

    Inwardly converging shock waves

    White dwarf stars, sometimes called “star corpses” in popular literature, are what stars like our sun become after they have exhausted their nuclear fuel and expelled most their outer material. The process leaves behind a hot core that cools down over the next billion years or so, according to information from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. A white dwarf star the size of the Earth is 200,000 times as dense.

    The density is achieved when the star is no longer able to create internal, outwardly directed pressure, because fusion has ceased. As that happens, gravity compacts the star’s matter inward until even the electrons that compose the dwarf star’s atoms are smashed together. One recent analysis has suggested that white dwarf stars are an important source of carbon found in galaxies.

    To study the process, researchers fired nanometer laser light into a hohlraum—a tiny gold cylinder—bathing a spherical 1 mm sample of a carbon-based compound known as CH (methylidyne) in x-ray radiation heated to nearly 3.5 million degrees, at pressures ranging from 100 to 450 million atmospheres.

    The experiments described in the paper simulate what happens in hot DQ white dwarf stars, first discovered in 2007, which contain a carbon and oxygen core surrounded by an envelope, or atmosphere, of mostly carbon. The researchers focused specifically on replicating the high pressure regimes that occur in an area of oscillating pulsations where previous attempts to model the behavior of matter have produced inconsistent results.

    The paper describes how the x-ray radiation bath in the hohlraum is absorbed by an outer region (ablator) of the spherical fuel sample, which heats and expands, launching inwardly converging shock waves toward the center of sphere. The shocks coalesce into a single strong shock, traveling at a speed of 150 to 220 kilometers per second and traversing the sample in about 9 nanoseconds.

    The 29 researchers who collaborated on the paper represent an array of North American and German research centers and institutions, including Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the SLAC National Accelerator, the University of Montreal, the University of Notre Dame, University of California Berkeley, and the Dresden University of Technology.

    The project was supported with funding from various offices of the US Department of Energy and from the University of California.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Rochester

    The University of Rochester is one of the country’s top-tier research universities. Our 158 buildings house more than 200 academic majors, more than 2,000 faculty and instructional staff, and some 10,500 students—approximately half of whom are women.

    Learning at the University of Rochester is also on a very personal scale. Rochester remains one of the smallest and most collegiate among top research universities, with smaller classes, a low 10:1 student to teacher ratio, and increased interactions with faculty.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:34 pm on July 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Controlling the robotic explorer is paramount to mission success., , , New data about asteroid surfaces will help explorers touchdown safely", Robotic missions that touch down on the surface of an asteroid will need to control the moment of touch down so that they don’t bounce., University of Rochester   

    From University of Rochester: “New data about asteroid surfaces will help explorers touchdown safely” 

    From University of Rochester

    July 17, 2020
    Lindsey Valich
    lvalich@ur.rochester.edu

    1
    Artist’s rendition of the OSIRIS-REx robotic explorer collecting samples on the Bennu asteroid’s surface. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center image)

    Recent NASA missions to asteroids have gathered important data about the early evolution of our Solar System, planet formation, and how life may have originated on Earth. These missions also provide crucial information about how to deflect asteroids that could hit Earth.

    Missions like the OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu and Japan’s Hayabusa 2 mission to asteroid Ryugu are often conducted by robotic explorers that send images back to Earth showing complex asteroid surfaces with cracked, perched boulders and rubble fields.

    NASA OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft

    JAXA Hayabusa2

    In order to better understand the behavior of asteroid material and design successful robotic explorers, researchers must first understand exactly how these explorers impact the surface of asteroids during their touchdown.

    Researchers from the University of Rochester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, including Alice Quillen, a professor of physics and astronomy, and Esteban Wright, a graduate student in Quillen’s lab, conducted lab experiments before the quarantine lockdown in March to determine what happens when explorers and other objects touch down on complex, granular surfaces in low-gravity environments. Their research, published in the journal Icarus, provides important information in improving the accuracy of data collection on asteroids.

    “Controlling the robotic explorer is paramount to mission success,” Wright says. “We want to avoid a situation where the lander is stuck in its own landing site or potentially bounces off the surface and goes in an unintended direction. It may also be desirable for the explorer to skip across the surface to travel long distances.”


    The researchers used sand to represent an asteroid’s surface in the lab. They then used marbles to measure how objects impact the sandy surfaces at different angles, and filmed the marbles with high-speed video in order to track the marbles’ trajectories and spin during impact with the sand.

    “Granular materials like sand are usually quite absorbent upon impact,” Quillen says. “Similar to a cannonball ricocheting off of water, pushed sand can act like a snow in front of a snowplow, lifting the projectile, causing it to skip off the surface.”

    Collaborating with members of Rochester’s Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Computer Science, the researchers constructed a mathematical model that includes the Froude number, a dimensionless ratio that depends on gravity, speed, and size. By scaling the model with the Froude number, the researchers were able to apply the knowledge gained from their experiments with the marbles to low-gravity environments, such as those found on asteroid surfaces.

    “We found that at velocities near the escape velocity—the velocity at which an object will escape gravitational attraction—many if not most rocks and boulders are likely to ricochet on asteroids,” Wright says.

    The results provide an explanation for why asteroids have strewn boulders and rocks that are perched on their surfaces, and they also influence the angle at which robotic missions will need to successfully touch down on the surface of an asteroid.

    “Robotic missions that touch down on the surface of an asteroid will need to control the moment of touch down so that they don’t bounce,” Quillen says. “The robots can accomplish this by making their angle of impact nearly vertical, by reducing the velocity of impact to a very small value, or by making the velocity of impact large enough to form a deep crater that the robotic explorer won’t bounce out of.”

    Grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation supported this research.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Rochester

    The University of Rochester is one of the country’s top-tier research universities. Our 158 buildings house more than 200 academic majors, more than 2,000 faculty and instructional staff, and some 10,500 students—approximately half of whom are women.

    Learning at the University of Rochester is also on a very personal scale. Rochester remains one of the smallest and most collegiate among top research universities, with smaller classes, a low 10:1 student to teacher ratio, and increased interactions with faculty.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:43 pm on June 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CfA Scientists Collaborate on New Study to Search the Universe for Signs of Technological Civilizations", Exoplanet LHS 1140b, , University of Rochester   

    From Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and University of Rochester: “CfA Scientists Collaborate on New Study to Search the Universe for Signs of Technological Civilizations” 

    University of Rochester

    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


    From Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    June 19, 2020

    Amy Oliver
    Public Affairs
    Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
    Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory
    520-879-4406
    amy.oliver@cfa.harvard.edu

    1
    Artist’s impression of the exoplanet LHS 1140b, which orbits its star within the “habitable zone” where liquid water might exist on the surface. The LHS 1140 system is only about 40 light-years from Earth, making it a possible target for studying the atmosphere of the planet if it has one. Credit: M. Weiss/CfA

    Scientists at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and the University of Rochester are collaborating on a project to search the universe for signs of life via technosignatures, after receiving the first NASA non-radio technosignatures grant ever awarded, and the first SETI-specific NASA grant in over three decades.

    Researchers believe that although life appears in many forms, the scientific principles remain the same, and that the technosignatures identifiable on Earth will also be identifiable in some fashion outside of the solar system. “Technosignatures relate to signatures of advanced alien technologies similar to, or perhaps more sophisticated than, what we possess,” said Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard. “Such signatures might include industrial pollution of atmospheres, city lights, photovoltaic cells (solar panels), megastructures, or swarms of satellites.”

    Knowing where to look for technosignatures hasn’t always been easy, making it difficult for researchers to obtain grants and a footing in mainstream astronomy. The surge of results in exoplanetary research—including planets in habitable zones and the presence of atmospheric water vapor—over the past five years has revitalized the search for intelligent life. “The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has always faced the challenge of figuring out where to look. Which stars do you point your telescope at and look for signals?” said Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, and the primary recipient of the grant. “Now we know where to look. We have thousands of exoplanets including planets in the habitable zone where life can form. The game has changed.”

    The study, “Characterizing Atmospheric Technosignatures,” will initially focus on searching for two particular signatures that may indicate the presence of technological activities on extrasolar planetary bodies: solar panels and pollutants.

    Solar panels are rapidly gaining in popularity as a means for harnessing the energy of Earth’s sun, and researchers believe other civilizations will do the same with their own stars as they seek new means to produce energy. “The nearest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri, hosts a habitable planet, Proxima b.

    Centauris Alpha Beta Proxima 27, February 2012. Skatebiker

    The planet is thought to be tidally locked with permanent day and night sides,” said Loeb. “If a civilization wants to illuminate or warm up the night side, they would place photovoltaic cells on the day side and transfer the electric power gained to the night side.” Frank added, “Our job is to say, ‘this wavelength band’ is where you would see sunlight reflected off solar panels. This way astronomers observing a distant exoplanet will know where and what to look for if they’re searching for technosignatures.”

    In the search for life outside of the solar system, scientists also often turn to biosignatures detected as chemicals in planetary atmospheres. Jason Wright, Penn State University, said, “We have come a long way toward understanding how we might detect life on other worlds from the gases present in those worlds’ atmospheres.” While scientists can search for those chemicals produced naturally by life, like methane, they are now also searching for artificial chemicals and gases. “We pollute Earth’s atmosphere with our industrial activity,” said Loeb. “If another civilization had been doing it for much longer than we have, then their planet’s atmosphere might show detectable signs of artificially produced molecules that nature is very unlikely to produce spontaneously, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).” The presence of CFCs—or refrigerant—therefore, could indicate the presence of industrial activity.

    Loeb, Frank, and Wright are joined by Mansavi Lingam of the Florida Institute of Technology, and Jacob Haqq-Misra of Blue Marble Space. The study aims to eventually produce the first entries for an online technosignatures library.

    “My hope is that, using this grant, we will quantify new ways to probe signs of alien technological civilizations that are similar to or much more advanced than our own,” said Loeb. “The fundamental question we are trying to address is: are we alone? But I would add to that: even if we are alone right now, were we alone in the past?”

    About Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

    Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.

    See the full article here .


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

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Center for Astrophysics combines the resources and research facilities of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under a single director to pursue studies of those basic physical processes that determine the nature and evolution of the universe. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1890. The Harvard College Observatory (HCO), founded in 1839, is a research institution of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and provides facilities and substantial other support for teaching activities of the Department of Astronomy.

    U Rochester

    The University of Rochester is one of the country’s top-tier research universities. Our 158 buildings house more than 200 academic majors, more than 2,000 faculty and instructional staff, and some 10,500 students—approximately half of whom are women.

    Learning at the University of Rochester is also on a very personal scale. Rochester remains one of the smallest and most collegiate among top research universities, with smaller classes, a low 10:1 student to teacher ratio, and increased interactions with faculty.

     
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