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.

Oct. 21, 2022


Debbie Morford, group leader for data storage, answers questions from employees touring the Livermore Computing facility, which hosts Sierra, the world’s fifth-fastest supercomputer.

Making the impossible possible

More than 5,000 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) employees recently gathered to celebrate the Lab’s 70th anniversary. Throughout the first-ever Employee Engagement Day, dozens of the Lab’s facilities and programs opened their doors for employees to get a close-up look at LLNL’s cutting-edge science and technology. It was a celebration of making the impossible possible, bringing a huge number of Lab colleagues on-site together at the same time for the first time in years.

LLNL’s one-square-mile footprint was abuzz all day with tours of key capabilities, historical displays and films, live music, food and drink, photo booths, open houses and more. Attendees could complete a scavenger hunt for prizes, see a LEGO city simulation and watch an unmanned vehicle swarm demonstration in a single day. But most importantly, nearly everyone felt excited to be amongst their colleagues again after years of disruptions.


Dilute element titanium in copper matrix promotes H2-D2 exchange, which is promising for selective hydrogenation of oxygenates. Image by Ryan Chen/LLNL.

Breaking up is easy to do

Producing fragrances and flavorings and converting chemicals derived from biomass could get a boost from a new technique to break up hydrogen in nanoporous copper-titanium catalysts.

The dissociation (breaking up) of hydrogen bonds is an essential elementary step in catalytic hydrogenation (a chemical reaction between molecular hydrogen [H2] and another compound or element, usually in the presence of a catalyst), typically requiring the use of precious metals.

Lawrence Livermore scientists are mitigating the use of precious metals by diluting alloys of copper with early transition metals as selective hydrogenation catalysts, based on the principle that a more reactive metal can initiate the catalytic cycle

The team found that a nanoporous copper catalysts doped with small amounts of titanium increases the rate of hydrogen dissociation exchange by approximately one order of magnitude (5-7 times greater) compared to the undoped nanoporous Cu catalysts.

Ryuga asteroid

One particle of the Ryugu asteroid (dubbed C0009) helps identify the parent body materials of the space object. Image courtesy of A. Yamaguchi/NIPR.

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Every little bit helps

An international team including a researcher from Lawrence Livermore has determined that one specific particle on the asteroid Ryugu can shed light on the unaltered initial materials from its parent body.

In December 2014, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency launched the spacecraft Hayabusa2 to the asteroid 162173 Ryugu. In December 2020, the sample-return capsule successfully landed safely back on Earth with pristine pieces of Ryugu that it had collected.

Ryugu is an ancient fragment of a larger asteroid that formed very early in solar system history, shortly after the birth of the sun. Samples from this asteroid present a unique opportunity to determine not only the material the solar system formed from, but also how the solar system evolved.

The solar system formed from a large cloud of swirling gas and dust made by previous generations of stars. This “stardust” is nanometer to micrometer sized particles that are incorporated into planetary bodies, like Ryugu, when they form.


This imagery from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope from Oct. 8, 2022, shows the debris blasted from the surface of Dimorphos 285 hours after the asteroid was intentionally impacted by NASA’s DART spacecraft on Sept. 26. The shape of that tail has changed over time. Scientists are continuing to study this material and how it moves in space, in order to better understand the asteroid. Photo courtesy of NASA/ESA/STScI/Hubble.

DARTing ahead

The first mission to test a technology that one day might protect Earth from a catastrophic asteroid impact achieved its goal late last month, when a fast-moving spacecraft smashed into and changed the trajectory of a distant space rock, according to the the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

NASA said the intentional collision between its uncrewed spacecraft and the 525-foot-wide asteroid, called Dimorphos, successfully shifted the asteroid’s orbit around a larger asteroid called Didymos.

“The impact was perfectly executed,” said Megan Bruck Syal, the planetary defense project lead at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a co-investigator of the $325 million mission, known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART. She called the mission a great success.

Since the collision, DART team members have been working to quantify the shift in Dimorphos’ orbit.

earth model

A simulation from the DOE Energy Exascale Earth System Model, one of the large-scale models incorporated in the Earth System Grid Federation led by DOE’s Oak Ridge, Argonne and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories. Credit: LLNL/DOE.

Tracking the future trajectory of climate

The Earth System Grid Federation, a multi-agency initiative that gathers and distributes data for top-tier projections of the Earth’s climate, is preparing a series of upgrades that will make using the data easier and faster while improving how the information is curated.

The federation, led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in collaboration with Argonne and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories, is integral to some of the most important, impactful and widely respected projections of the Earth’s future climate: those made by scientists working with the Coupled Model Intercomparison Projects for the World Climate Research Programme.

A key ESGF mission is to support the data needs of scientists who prepare the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s comprehensive climate assessments released every six to seven years. ESGF data underpin IPCC landmark reports such as the recent Sixth Assessment Report and its working group findings. The data also informs IPCC special reports focused on climate vulnerabilities, adaptation scenarios and mitigation strategies.