Science and Technology Making Headlines

Aug. 18, 2023

Greg Spriggs oppenheimer

Rating movie bombs

Nuclear-weapons physicist Greg Spriggs rates eight nuclear-explosion scenes in movies.

He analyzes the portrayal of nuclear detonations and their effects in Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008); Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012); and Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove" (1964). He also comments on what a nuclear explosion in outer space would really look like in comparison to Marvel's "The Avengers" (2012); and Michael Bay's "Armageddon" (1998). He breaks down the underwater detonation seen in "American Assassin" (2017). And he explains how accurate Christopher Nolan's recreation of the construction of the first atomic bomb in Los Alamos and the subsequent Trinity test was in "Oppenheimer" (2023).

Spriggs has been a nuclear-weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for 20 years. He worked on a special project where he scanned, reanalyzed, and declassified old nuclear test films.

electronics weekly

thin-film FS-LiPON

The new transparent, thin-film FS-LiPON material which promotes a uniformly dense lithium metal electrochemical deposition under zero external pressure, with the aid of internal compressive stress and a gold seeding layer. Image courtesy Diyi Cheng/UC San Diego Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion

Putting the pressure on lithium batteries

A team of battery researchers led by the University of California San Diego and University of Chicago and including a Lawrence Livermore researcher has developed a new methodology to produce the potentially game-changing thin-film solid-state electrolyte called lithium phosphorus oxynitride (LiPON).

The team went on to implement their freestanding version of LiPON film in functional battery tests and found that it promotes a uniformly dense lithium metal electrochemical deposition under zero external pressure, with the aid of internal compressive stress and a gold seeding layer.

LiPON shows strong promise for pairing with a broad range of electrode materials for the lithium battery industry of the future.

HiOp solver Exascale

The HiOp solver ran on 9,000 Frontier nodes to assess power grid setpoints of more than 100,000 possible grid failures and weather scenarios in 20 minutes.

The grid is on the go

Ensuring the nation’s electrical power grid can function with limited disruptions in the event of a natural disaster, catastrophic weather or a manmade attack is a key national security challenge. Compounding the challenge of grid management is the increasing amount of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind that are continually added to the grid, and the fact that solar panels and other means of distributed power generation are hidden to grid operators.

To advance the modeling and computational techniques needed to develop more efficient grid-control strategies under emergency scenarios, a multi-institutional team has used a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)-developed software capable of optimizing the grid’s response to potential disruption events under different weather scenarios, on Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)’s Frontier supercomputer, an HPE Cray system powered by AMD CPUs and GPUs. Frontier recently achieved a milestone of running at exascale speeds of more than one quintillion calculations per second.

As part of the Exascale Computing Project’s ExaSGD project, researchers at LLNL, ORNL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory ran HiOp, an open-source optimization solver, on 9,000 nodes of the Frontier machine. In the largest simulation of its kind to date, Frontier allowed researchers to determine safe and cost-optimal power grid setpoints over 100,000 possible grid failures (also called contingencies) and weather scenarios in just 20 minutes. The project emphasized security-constrained optimal power flow, a reflection of the real-world voltage and frequency restrictions the grid must operate within to remain safe and reliable.

carbon nanotube

An atomic-level view of water confined in a small-diameter nanotube. Fast water transport and high selectivity of small-diameter nanotubes can enable advanced water desalination technologies. Illustration by Ella Maru Studios.

Seeing the water through carbon nanotubes

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists recently combined large-scale molecular dynamics simulations with machine learning interatomic potentials derived from first-principles calculations to examine the hydrogen bonding of water confined in carbon nanotubes (CNTs). They found that the narrower the diameter of the CNT, the more the water structure is affected in a highly complex and nonlinear fashion. The research appears on the cover of The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

The hydrogen-bond network of confined water in nanopores deviates from the bulk liquid, yet looking into the changes is a significant challenge. In the recent study, the team computed and compared the infrared (IR) spectrum of confined water with existing experiments to reveal confinement effects.

“Our work offers a general platform for simulating water in CNTs with quantum accuracy on time and length scales beyond the reach of conventional first-principles approaches,” said LLNL scientist Marcos Calegari Andrade, lead author of the paper.

Computer with email graphic

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.