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.

July 31, 2015


Lawrence Livermore’s Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry is used to radiocarbon date artifacts as well as trace biomarkers through the human body.

Quran may be found

Researchers from the University of Birmingham recently revealed that fragments they radiocarbon dated could be the world’s oldest copy of the Quran, and researchers say it may have been transcribed by a contemporary of the Prophet Muhammad.

The ancient pieces of manuscript are estimated to be at least 1,370 years old. Radiocarbon dating measures levels of a heavier form of carbon as it appears in the atmosphere over time and becomes part of plants and, later, the animals that eat them. In this case, the Oxford laboratory measured the age of the goat or sheep whose skin was turned into parchment.

Graham Bench, director of the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (which did not participate in the findings), had a caveat: “You’re dating the parchment,” he said. “You’re not dating the ink. You’re making the assumption that the parchment or vellum was used within years of it being made, which is probably a reasonable assumption, but it’s not watertight.”


Modified graphene aerogels have high surface area and excellent conductivity, and are promising for high-power electrical energy storage applications.

Seeing the light through aerogel

It looks like frozen smoke, and it’s the lightest solid material on the planet. Aerogel insulates spacesuits, makes tennis rackets stronger and could be used one day to clean up oil spills.

Most recently Lawrence Livermore researchers created a new type of graphene aerogel that will make for better energy storage, sensors, nanoelectronics and catalysis. The graphene aerogel microlattices have an engineered architecture via a 3D printing technique known as direct ink writing.

In this video, Lawrence Livermore scientist Alex Gash shows viewers some remarkable properties of this truly unique substance.


LLNL biologists James Thissen and Crystal Jaing along with researchers from Kansas State University found that the Microbial Detection Array could help identify diseases in the commercial swine industry.

Finding bugs in the food supply

A powerful technology designed to save the lives of soldiers could soon be making the food industry safer. It can detect potentially deadly bacteria and viruses faster than ever before.

For a wounded soldier, knowing the source of an infection could mean the difference between life and death, so researchers at Lawrence Livermore developed a detector to help doctors do just that.

Recently, Livermore scientists teamed up with agricultural experts at Kansas State University because they wanted to see if that power could be used to identify microorganisms that could threaten America's food supply.

LLNL’s Crystal Jaing says the Microbial Detection Array can quickly identify subtypes of viruses like H1N1, popularly known as the swine flu. The Livermore team says early identification could help disrupt future outbreaks.


The Bay Area's national laboratories are offering their manufacturing and clean energy expertise to small businesses through a new voucher pilot program.

A business star is born

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories/California, has been awarded $4.15 million by the Department of Energy (DOE) to jointly launch a new small business voucher pilot, named LabSTAR.

The Molecular Foundry hosted at Lawrence Berkeley could be used for collaborative research through the Small Business Voucher Pilot.

The funding is part of DOE’s $20 million investment in small business assistance, which is one component of its National Lab Impact Initiative. This initiative seeks to significantly increase the industrial impact of DOE national labs on the U.S. clean energy sector. LabSTAR was awarded the pilot for applications in four sectors: battery technologies, fuel cell technologies, geothermal technologies and advanced manufacturing, which could cover any technology.

“LabSTAR pulls together a consortium of national labs located in the Bay Area that marry cutting-edge science and technology with a regional ecosystem that promotes small business success,” said Rich Rankin, director of LLNL’s Industrial Partnerships Office.


This simulation depicts a comet hitting the young Earth, generating the amino acids necessary for life. Image courtesy of Matthew Genge/Imperial College London.

And then there was ice

Icy comets and other large astrophysical bodies bombarded early Earth but may have brought with them the ingredients for life.

Some of those comets contained complex prebiotic materials, such as amino acids and peptides (chains of amino acids), which are some of the most basic building blocks of life on Earth.

“The survivability of these compounds under impact conditions is mostly unknown,” said Lawrence Livermore’s Nir Goldman. “Our research hopes to answer these questions and give an indication for what types of potentially life-building compounds would be produced under these conditions.”