Lab Report

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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.

Feb. 17, 2017

nanotubes
This transmission electron microscope image shows growth of a dense carbon nanotube population.

Nanotubes on film

For the first time, Lawrence Livermore researchers have revealed stunning imagery of how a large population of carbon nanotubes nucleates, grows and align.

Using a real-time environmental transmission electron microscope with a state-of-the-art kHz CCD camera, Eric Meshot from Lawrence Livermore and colleagues imaged the nucleation and self-organization of carbon nanotubes into vertically aligned forests.

Capturing the inherently rapid processes that govern the self-organization of these nanostructures is critical to design of next-generation supercapacitors, electronic interconnects, separation membranes and fabrics.

exomoon
This simulation shows the collision of two celestial bodies, ejecting enough debris into orbit to form a moon large enough for the Kelper spacecraft to detect.

Come out, come out wherever you are

Moons orbiting planets outside of our solar system are lonely because no one knows where they are. But that could change soon.

Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible for a planetary collision to form a moon large enough for the Kepler spacecraft to detect.

Kepler has been prolific in its search of exoplanets, discovering thousands since its launch in 2009. But the hunt for moons orbiting these exoplanets, or exomoons, is vastly more challenging. While no exomoons have been found to date, a new study shows that the search is not futile.

Lawrence Livermore physicist Megan Bruck Syal and Amy Barr of the Planetary Science Institute conducted a series of nearly 30 simulations to explore how various factors affect moon creation. In the end, they narrowed in on a set of conditions that would create satellites much larger than the Earth's moon.

LUX
Lawrence Livermore members of the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) team and the dual-phase xenon detector, under construction to study the expected response to low-energy nuclear interactions in LZ.

A deep dark secret

Deep underground in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the search for dark matter will soon begin.

A new project by the Department of Energy called the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment is planned to go online in 2020, a mile underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility.

The LZ project will involve 220 scientists who come from 38 institutions worldwide. The lead U.S. laboratory for the project is Lawrence Livermore and the search for the elusive dark matter is on its way.

Spiral galaxies, and galaxy clusters, move too fast to be operating by themselves. As early as the 1930s, scientists postulated that an invisible force had to be acting upon them to cause them to move in misunderstood ways. The placeholder description for the missing mass became "dark matter."

truenorth
Lawrence Livermore received the 16-chip IBM TrueNorth platform earlier this year.

Thinking like humans

Intel has been developing neuromorphic devices for some time, with one of the first prototypes that was well known in 2012.

At the same time, IBM was still building out efforts on its own "TrueNorth" neuromorphic architecture, and its role as a reference point for new neuro-inspired devices rolled out. IBM collaborated with Lawrence Livermore on the brain-inspired supercomputer.

The chip-architecture breakthrough accelerates the path to exascale computing and helps computers tackle complex, cognitive tasks such as pattern recognition sensory processing.

The scalable platform will process the equivalent of 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses and consume the energy equivalent of a hearing aid battery -- a mere 2.5 watts of power programming such devices, even to handle offload workloads for existing large-scale scientific simulations.

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

A powerful achievement

The High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS), being developed at Lawrence Livermore, recently completed a significant milestone: demonstration of continuous operation of an all diode-pumped, high-energy femtosecond petawatt laser system. This means the system is ready for delivery and integration at the European Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines facility project (ELI Beamlines) in the Czech Republic.

In the decades since high-power lasers were introduced, they have illuminated entirely new fields of scientific endeavor, in addition to making profound impacts on society.

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

ELI plans to make HAPLS available by 2018 to the international science user community to conduct the first experiments using the laser.