Lab Reports

Get the latest LLNL coverage in our weekly newsletter

The Lab Report is a weekly compendium of media reports on science and technology achievements at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Though the Laboratory reviews items for overall accuracy, the reporting organizations are responsible for the content in the links below.

Sep. 23, 2016

Gas giant planets like Jupiter may contain significant amounts of liquid metallic hydrogen in their center.

Putting the pressure on gas giants

Working off of research originally performed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a team of scientists from Edinburgh University are close to producing metallic hydrogen by placing the chemical element under incredibly high pressures. Metallic hydrogen could serve as an electrical conductor and could answer mysteries about the universe.

In the late '90s, LLNL scientists unexpectedly produced the first identifiable metallic hydrogen for about a microsecond. However, previous studies where hydrogen went under higher pressures did not confirm detectable metallization.

Current studies have shown that, at pressures close to those at the center of the Earth, hydrogen still didn't transform into metal. Many believe higher pressures are needed to create metallic hydrogen.

Gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn may contain significant amounts of liquid metallic hydrogen. So cracking its metallic form should help scientists better understand the composition of such planets.

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

Not as primitive as meteorites

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

The abundance of several neodymium (Nd) isotopes is different in the Earth and in chondritic meteorites.

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

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

LLNL engineer Ian Lee is working to help the Lab embrace open source.

Opening the door

One computer engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is helping Laboratory staff understand how they can develop in open source.

National security and open source are not usually paired together in the same sentence. But LLNL, with work often entangled in national security-driven protocol and export control laws, opening up to open source, said Ian Lee, a LLNL computer engineer.

Lee is leading some of those Laboratory efforts and discussed that journey in advance of a talk last week at the GitHub Universe conference.

The greatest benefits of open source, Lee said "are the collaboration and the communities that grow up around these projects."

Under dynamic pressure, iron springs back to its original shape.

A spring in iron’s step

Physicists from Lawrence Livermore have carried out a sequence of calculations that shed light on an unanticipated way in which iron changes under dynamic compression.

The team explains first-principle calculations on two solid phases of iron, and also on intermediate crystal structures alongside the transformation path from one phase to the other.

The calculations include an accurately parameterized model for magnetic fluctuations (electron spin waves) including the effect of shifting the iron nuclei as squeezing of the material takes place in a shock experiment.

What they found is that under intense pressure, iron springs back to its original shape.

Industry can participate in the HPC4Mfg that would leverage a network of national laboratories’ supercomputers.

Expanding clean tech

The Energy Department's Advanced Manufacturing Office is expanding industry access to its network of national laboratories to leverage supercomputing capabilities that can be used to model, simulate and analyze industrial processes and products.

DOE's High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg), spearheaded by Lawrence Livermore, recently announced another series of funded projects designed to expand the program's scope to other industrial sectors. The 13 new projects will receive up to $300,000 each to speed product development and commercialize new manufacturing capabilities with an emphasis on energy efficiency and clean energy.

Separately, the agency has funded $3 million for its next round of manufacturing projects. Between eight and 10 projects would be funded to cover access to U.S. supercomputers.