Friday, January 30, 2015

Large, high-quality crystals boost Perovskite performance

Millimeter-scale perovskite with promising charge transport properties. Science photo

One way to make bigger and better perovskite solar cells could be making bigger and better perovskite crystals, according to three new studies.

Aditya D. Mohite and Hsing-Lin Wang of Los Alamos National Laboratory, created polycrystalline perovskite films with millimeter-sized grains. Solar cells based on the films achieved 18% power conversion efficiency (Science 2015, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0472).

“What we have is a fantastic material,” says Mohite, one of the Los Alamos team’s leaders. “I think everyone will be tempted to work with it.” (Full Story)

New technique for growing high-efficiency perovskite solar cells

Aditya Mohite, left, and Wanyi Nie. LANL photo

This week in the journal Science, Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers reveal a new solution-based hot-casting technique that allows growth of highly efficient solar cells from large-area perovskite crystals.

"These perovskite crystals offer promising routes for developing low-cost, solar-based, clean global energy solutions for the future," said Aditya Mohite, the Los Alamos scientist leading the project. (Full Story)

Los Alamos discovers super efficient solar using Perovskite crystals

State-of-the-art photovoltaics using high-purity, large-area, wafer-scale single-crystallinesemiconductors grown by sophisticated, high temperature crystal-growth processes offer promising routes for developing low-cost, solar-based cleanglobal energy solutions for the future. Solar cells composed of the recently discovered material organic-inorganic perovskites offer the efficiency of silicon, yet suffer from a variety of deficiencies limiting the commercial viability of perovskite photovoltaic technology. (See Video)

The Cobweb

New Yorker illustration

Last month, a team of digital library researchers based at Los Alamos National Laboratory reported the results of an exacting study of three and a half million scholarly articles published in science, technology, and medical journals between 1997 and 2012: one in five links provided in the notes suffers from reference rot. It’s like trying to stand on quicksand. (Full Story)

Supporting biosurveillance via the web

A new online resource, called the Biosurveillance Gateway, is in place at Los Alamos National Laboratory, providing a centralized portal for all news, information, resources, and research related to biosurveillance at the laboratory.

"The goal of the site is to support global disease surveillance, providing useful tools developed at Los Alamos for professionals around the world to reference from a single location," said Alina Deshpande, the project's leader. (Full Story)

Nowcasting: Disease monitoring at Internet speed

GCN illustration    

Do you search the Internet to diagnose your aches and pains? Turns out enough people do that scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have discovered they can more effectively monitor and forecast diseases by analyzing views of Wikipedia articles, according to a team from the laboratory.

The findings add to growing evidence that, “traditional, biologically-focused monitoring techniques are accurate but costly and slow,” and that new models based on social media data and Internet search – or nowcasting  – are emerging to take their place. (Full Story)

Is social media the new Doppler radar for tracking diseases?

Common cold map. from HIT             

When someone is sick, they want to know what’s wrong. It’s not unusual for individuals to turn to Wikipedia for more information about their diagnosis, looking up key search terms in a pursuit of a better understanding. Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory are using that human tendency to search for answers as a foundation to predict outbreaks of influenza, Dengue fever and more. (Full Story)

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Physicists debate quantum math

Wojciech Zurek, LANL image

A leading quantum theorist, Wojciech Zurek of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, isn’t ready to jump on the ontic bandwagon.

“I don’t think the [quantum] state is either epistemic or ontic,” he said at an IBM workshop. “For the record, the state is definitely epi-ontic.”

Zurek pointed out that quantum states do not exist in the same sense that ordinary classical states exist. For classical states, information about the state can be recorded, copied and shared. A quantum system can be prepared in a known state, but an unknown quantum state can’t be examined or copied without destroying it. (Full Story)

Asteroid set for near miss

Illustration from Express

Plans produced by a leading atomic research centre in America have revealed that if asteroids were to fly dangerously close to us, nuclear weapons could be used to destroy or deflect them.

In documents developed by Los Alamos atomic weapons centre in New Mexico, nuclear missiles are cited as our only defence against the growing threat of meteors and asteroids.

Los Alamos' Robert Weaver in an abstract submitted to the AGU's annual meeting said: "The goal is to study the effectiveness of using a nuclear explosive to alter the orbit or destroy a potentially harmful object." (Full Story)

In search of pristine aerosols

Pathways of natural and human-produced aerosols from the marine environment, Scripps illustration                 

A new study considers how pure a key force in climate really is. Contributors to the study include Lynn Russell and Amanda Frossard of Scripps, Scott Elliott of Los Alamos National Laboratory, and several others.

Aerosols such as dust, sea salt particles, bits of organic material, and even pollutants are what allows water vapor to congeal into clouds and the mix of aerosols in the sky helps determine what kinds of clouds form. (Full Story)

The real threat from North Korea

Former Laboratory Director Sig Hecker, LANL photo           

During my first visit to North Korea in January 2004, North Korean officials were eager to show my Stanford University colleagues and me the plutonium bomb fuel they produced following a diplomatic breakdown with the George W. Bush administration. Four years ago, during my seventh visit to the country and two years into the Obama administration, they surprised us with a tour through an ultra-modern centrifuge facility, demonstrating that they were capable of producing highly enriched uranium, the alternate route to the bomb. (Full Story)

Hands-on science fun for all ages

Jane Clements, a Bradbury Museum guide shows Eli Carrasco, 5, how to create slides with water samples from the area, then examines the slides through a microscope.

The Bradbury Science Museum hosts the “Scientist in the Spotlight” series every second Saturday of the month. The informal conversations led by scientists and other professionals are hands-on and interactive with kids of all ages and adults. (Full Story)

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Groundbreaking Four Corners methane study among lab’s scientific breakthroughs in 2014

The Four Corners area, in red, left, is a major
U.S. hot spot for methane emissions. (NASA Image)

The methane study was among 12 projects lab officials identified as the top scientific breakthroughs at LANL in 2014. Others included tracking Internet traffic to articles about diseases as an indicator of their spread, creation of simulated human organs that could replace animals in medical tests and a laser chosen for NASA’s 2020 Mars mission, to name a few. (full story)

A variation of this story also appeared in the Farmington Daily Times

There were big discoveries at LANL this year

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Elena
Guardincerri,right, and Shelby Fellows prepare
a lead hemisphere inside a muon tomography
machine. (LANL photo.)
It was a big year for scientific discoveries at Los Alamos National Laboratory, from transferring foolproof computer encryption techniques to market, to using social media for forecasting diseases, creating a virtual human body that could end animal drug tests and even helping pave the way for human visitation to Mars. (full story)

How NASA’s next Mars rover will hunt for signs of past life

The Mars 2020 Rover. (NASA image)
Mars 2020, as it’s currently called, will have improved instruments over Curiosity. The new rover is heavily based on the Curiosity design, and as with its predecessor it will be able to search for habitable environments.

The seven instruments include SuperCam, designed to sense organic compounds in rocks and regolith through mineralogy and chemical composition analysis. Principal investigator: Roger Wiens, Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)

Nuclear plan to blast rogue asteroids

LANL asteroid killer model. (LANL image)
Nuclear weapons could be deployed to protect Earth from incoming asteroids under a plan being drawn up by America’s leading atomic weapons research centre.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory said last week that the threat of an asteroid impact is far greater than had been realised and research was required to work out the best way to destroy or deflect them.

(Subscription required for full story.)

Space weather: Plasma waves responsible for particle fallout in Earth’s atmosphere

Balloon Array for Radiation belt
Relativistic Electron Losses.
(Dartmouth photo)
The study is the most detailed analysis so far of the link between these waves and the fallout of electrons from the planet's radiation belts. The belts are impacted by fluctuations in "space weather" caused by solar activity that can disrupt GPS satellites, communication systems, power grids and manned space exploration. Co-authors include scientists from Dartmouth, UC Santa Cruz, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and others. (full story)

Los Alamos team explores renewables for Arch Hurley

A study by economists and engineers with the Los Alamos National Laboratory has concluded that the Arch Hurley Conservancy District could finance some improvements with the proceeds of wind and solar energy generation facilities located on district property.

The $60,000 study, financed by a grant from New Mexico Small Business Assistance, represents a possible approach the Arch Hurley district could take to earn some extra spending money, Phillip Box, an Arch Hurley board member, said. (full story)

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