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News Article
Site: http://www.nanotech-now.com/

Abstract: For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have shown that carbon nanotubes as small as eight-tenths of a nanometer in diameter can transport protons faster than bulk water, by an order of magnitude. The research validates a 200-year old mechanism of proton transport. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. By comparison, the diameter of a human hair is 20,000 nanometers. The transport rates in these nanotube pores, which form one-dimensional water wires, also exceed those of biological channels and man-made proton conductors, making carbon nanotubes the fastest known proton conductor. The research appears in the April 4 advanced online edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Practical applications include proton exchange membranes, proton-based signaling in biological systems and the emerging field of proton bioelectronics (protonics). "The cool thing about our results is that we found that when you squeeze water into the nanotube, protons move through that water even faster than through normal (bulk) water," said Aleksandr Noy, an LLNL biophysicist and a lead author of the paper. (Bulk water is similar to what you would find in a cup of water that is much bigger than the size of a single water molecule). The idea that protons travel fast in solutions by hopping along chains of hydrogen-bonded water molecules dates back 200 years to the work of Theodore von Grotthuss and still remains the foundation of the scientific understanding of proton transport. In the new research, LLNL researchers used carbon nanotube pores to line up water molecules into perfect one-dimensional chains and showed that they allow proton transport rates to approach the ultimate limits for the Grotthuss transport mechanism. "The possibility to achieve fast proton transport by changing the degree of water confinement is exciting," Noy said. "So far, the man-made proton conductors, such as polymer Nafion, use a different principle to enhance the proton transport. We have mimicked the way biological systems enhance the proton transport, took it to the extreme, and now our system realizes the ultimate limit of proton conductivity in a nanopore." Of all man-made materials, the narrow hydrophobic inner pores of carbon nanotubes (CNT) hold the most promise to deliver the level of confinement and weak interactions with water molecules that facilitate the formation of one-dimensional hydrogen-bonded water chains that enhance proton transport. Earlier molecular dynamic simulations showed that water in 0.8 nm diameter carbon nanotubes would create such water wires and predicted that these channels would exhibit proton transport rates that would be much faster than those of bulk water. Ramya Tunuguntla, an LLNL postdoctoral researcher and the first author on the paper, said that despite significant efforts in carbon nanotube transport studies, these predictions proved to be hard to validate, mainly because of the difficulties in creating sub-1-nm diameter CNT pores. However, the Lawrence Livermore team along with colleagues from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and UC Berkeley was able to create a simple and versatile experimental system for studying transport in ultra-narrow CNT pores. They used carbon nanotube porins (CNTPs), a technology they developed earlier at LLNL, which uses carbon nanotubes embedded in the lipid membrane to mimic biological ion channel functionality. The key breakthrough was the creation of nanotube porins with a diameter of less than 1 nm, which allowed researchers for the first time to achieve true one-dimensional water confinement. ### Other Livermore and Berkeley researchers include Frances Allen, Kyunghoon Kim and Allison Belliveau. The work was funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Sciences. About Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. For more information, please click If you have a comment, please us. Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.


News Article
Site: http://www.scientificcomputing.com/rss-feeds/all/rss.xml/all

LIVERMORE, CA. and ARMONK, N Y — Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) announced it will receive a first-of-a-kind brain-inspired supercomputing platform for deep learning developed by IBM Research. Based on a breakthrough neurosynaptic computer chip called IBM TrueNorth, 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. The brain-like, neural network design of the IBM Neuromorphic System is able to infer complex cognitive tasks, such as pattern recognition and integrated sensory processing, far more efficiently than conventional chips. The new system will be used to explore new computing capabilities important to the ’s (NNSA) missions in cybersecurity, stewardship of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and nonproliferation. NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program will evaluate machine-learning applications, deep-learning algorithms and architectures and conduct general computing feasibility studies. ASC is a cornerstone of NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship Program to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear deterrent without underground testing. “Neuromorphic computing opens very exciting new possibilities and is consistent with what we see as the future of the high performance computing and simulation at the heart of our national security missions,” said Jim Brase, LLNL deputy associate director for Data Science. “The potential capabilities neuromorphic computing represents and the machine intelligence that these will enable will change how we do science.” The technology represents a fundamental departure from computer design that has been prevalent for the past 70 years, and could be a powerful complement in the development of next-generation supercomputers able to perform at exascale speeds, 50 times (or two orders of magnitude) faster than today’s most advanced petaflop (quadrillion floating point operations per second) systems. Like the human brain, neurosynaptic systems require significantly less electrical power and volume. “The low power consumption of these brain-inspired processors reflects industry’s desire and a creative approach to reducing power consumption in all components for future systems as we set our sights on exascale computing,” said Michel McCoy, LLNL program director for Weapon Simulation and Computing. “The delivery of this advanced computing platform represents a major milestone as we enter the next era of cognitive computing,” said Dharmendra  Modha, IBM fellow and chief scientist of Brain-inspired Computing, IBM Research. “We value our partnerships with the national labs. In fact, prior to design and fabrication, we simulated the IBM TrueNorth processor using LLNL’s Sequoia supercomputer. This collaboration will push the boundaries of brain-inspired computing to enable future systems that deliver unprecedented capability and throughput, while minimizing the capital, operating and programming costs — keeping our nation at the leading edge of science and technology.” A single TrueNorth processor consists of 5.4 billion transistors wired together to create an array of 1 million digital neurons that communicate with one another via 256 million electrical synapses. It consumes 70 milliwatts of power running in real time and delivers 46 giga synaptic operations per second — orders of magnitude lower energy than a conventional computer running inference on the same neural network. TrueNorth was originally developed under the auspices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) program, in collaboration with Cornell University. Under terms of the $1 million contract, LLNL will receive a 16-chip TrueNorth system representing a total of 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses. LLNL also will receive an end-to-end ecosystem to create and program energy-efficient machines that mimic the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition. The ecosystem consists of a simulator; a programming language; an integrated programming environment; a library of algorithms as well as applications; firmware; tools for composing neural networks for deep learning; a teaching curriculum; and cloud enablement. Lawrence Livermore computer scientists will collaborate with IBM Research, partners across the Department of Energy complex and universities to expand the frontiers of neurosynaptic architecture, system design, algorithms and software ecosystem. Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (www.llnl.gov) provides solutions to our nation’s most important national security challenges through innovative science, engineering and technology. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. Now in its 71st year, IBM Research continues to define the future of information technology with more than 3,000 researchers in 12 labs located across six continents. Scientists from IBM Research have produced six Nobel Laureates, 10 U.S. National Medals of Technology, five U.S. National Medals of Science, six Turing Awards, 19 inductees in the National Academy of Sciences and 20 inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.


News Article
Site: http://news.yahoo.com/science/

A mysterious, mile-long landing strip in the remote Nevada desert could be the home base for testing sensors on a top-secret fleet of drones, security experts speculate. The asphalt landing strip is in Area 6 of the Yucca Flat test site, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) northeast of the infamous Area 51 that has long been the subject of conspiracy theories. In Area 6, a handful of hangars with clamshell doors are clustered at one end of the airstrip, images from Google Earth reveal. The area, which does not have a name, is fenced off and can be seen from the road by those touring the pockmarked Nevada National Security Site of Yucca Flat, where the military conducted hundreds of nuclear tests over several decades. [14 Strangest Sights on Google Earth] While little is known about Area 6, the Yucca Airstrip is used by both the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, Darwin Morgan, a spokesperson for the National Nuclear Security Administration, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "They come here to test their own sensors," he recently said after evading questions from the newspaper about Area 6 for months. Though officials with the government have been extremely reticent to reveal any details about the site, a few details have leaked out. A 7,500-page tome on nuclear safety at the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project includes a brief paragraph describing Area 6 as an "aerial operations facility." “The purpose of this facility is to construct, operate, and test a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles. Tests include, but are not limited to, airframe modifications, sensor operation, and onboard computer development. A small, manned chase plane is used to track the unmanned aerial vehicles,” according to a 2008 report in the Yucca Mountain repository license application filed by government contractor Bechtel SAIC, which built the airstrip for $9.6 million. The airspace above the strip is controlled, which reduces the risk of planes or satellites in space getting a detailed look at the surroundings. It also prevents the public from unintentionally stumbling upon the site, Morgan told the Review-Journal. Based on its size, the hangars could house up to 15 MQ-9 Reaper planes, the type of drones used to perform reconnaissance, Tim Brown, an imagery analyst at the defense information website GlobalSecurity.org, told the Review Journal. The runway is too small for fighter jets or bombers, he added. One possibility is that the remotely piloted planes do practice runs for reconnaissance work. Yucca Flat's high desert terrain echoes that found in the most remote regions of Libya, where Al Qaeda or ISIS operatives could be hiding out, he said. If that's the case, the government may be testing out sensor arrays — essentially fields of hundreds of smartphone-type cameras that are mounted on planes such as the MQ-9 Reaper to take time-lapse photography. The idea is that anything out there that's moving could, in fact, be moved by a potential terrorist or bad actor, Brown said. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


News Article
Site: http://www.rdmag.com/rss-feeds/all/rss.xml/all

A new Sandia National Laboratories accelerator called Thor is expected to be 40 times more efficient than Sandia's Z machine, the world's largest and most powerful pulsed-power accelerator, in generating pressures to study materials under extreme conditions. "Thor's magnetic field will reach about one million atmospheres, about the pressures at Earth's core," said David Reisman, lead theoretical physicist of the project. Though unable to match Z's 5 million atmospheres, the completed Thor will be smaller -- 2,000 rather than 10,000 square feet -- and will be considerably more efficient due to design improvements that use hundreds of small capacitors instead of Z's few large ones. This change resembles the transformation of computer architecture in which a single extremely powerful computer chip was replaced with many relatively simple chips working in unison, or to the evolution from several high-voltage vacuum tubes to computers powered by a much larger number of low-voltage solid-state switches. A major benefit in efficiency is that while Z's elephant-sized capacitors require large switches to shorten the machine's electrical pulse from a microsecond to 100 nanoseconds, with its attendant greater impact, the small switches that service Thor's capacitors discharge current in a 100-nanosecond pulse immediately, eliminating energy losses inevitable when compressing a long pulse. The new architecture also allows finer control of the pulse sent to probe materials. Said Reisman, "Individual cables from pairs of capacitors separate our signals. By combining these signals in any manner we choose, we can tailor very precise pulses of electrical current." Tailored pulse shapes are needed to avoid shocks that would force materials being investigated to change state. "We want the material to stay in its solid state as we pass it through increasing pressures," he said. "If we shock the material, it becomes a hot liquid and doesn't give us information." Another advantage for Thor in such testing is that each capacitor's transit time can be not only controlled to the nanosecond level but isolated from the other capacitors. "In 30 seconds on a computer, we can determine the shape of the pulse that will produce a desired compression curve, whereas it takes days to determine how to create the ideal pulse shape for a Z experiment," Reisman said. Furthermore, because Thor can fire so frequently -- less hardware damage per shot requires fewer technicians and enables more rapid rebooting -- researchers will have many more opportunities to test an idea, he said. But there's more at stake than extra experiments or even new diagnostics. There's testing the efficiency of a radically different accelerator design. Thor's shoebox-sized units, known as "bricks," contain two capacitors and a switch. The assembled unit is a fourth-generation descendant of a device jointly developed by Sandia and the Institute of High-Current Electronics in Tomsk, Russia, called a linear transformer driver (LTD). The original LTD units, also called "bricks," had no cables to separate outputs, but instead were linked together to add voltage as well as current. (Because Thor's bricks are isolated from each other, they add current but not voltage.) Everything depends upon adding bricks. Sandia is building Thor in stages and already has assembled materials. Two intermediate stages are expected in 2016. These will comprise 24 bricks (Thor 24) and 48 bricks (Thor 48). "These are 'first-light' machines that will be used for initial experiments and validation," Reisman said. Thor 144, when completed, should reach 1 million atmospheres of pressure. Sandia manager Bill Stygar said more powerful LTD versions of Z ultimately could bring about thermonuclear ignition and even high-yield fusion. Ignition would be achieved when the fusion target driven by the machine releases more energy in fusion than the electrical energy delivered by the machine to the target. High yield would be achieved when the fusion energy released exceeds the energy initially stored by the machine's capacitors. A paper published Sept. 9, in Physical Review Special Topics - Accelerators and Beams, co-authored by Reisman, lead electrical engineer Brian Stoltzfus, Stygar, lead mechanical engineer Kevin Austin and colleagues, outlined Sandia's plan for Thor. A Nov. 30 paper, led by Stygar in the same journal, discusses the possibility of building next-generation LTD-powered accelerators to achieve ignition and high-yield fusion. The academic community also is interested in Thor's architecture. "Part of the motivation for Thor was to develop affordable and compact machines that could be operated at universities," said Reisman. Institutions that have expressed interest include Cornell University, University of California San Diego, Imperial College London and the Carnegie Institution. Thor's theoretical design was supported by Sandia's Laboratory Directed Research and Development office; later engineering details and hardware were supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration's Science Campaign.


News Article
Site: http://www.scientificcomputing.com/rss-feeds/all/rss.xml/all

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Sandia National Laboratories is leading the Security and Resilience area of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC) and bringing its strong research capability in grid modernization to help the nation modernize its power grid. The consortium includes scientists and engineers from across 14 DOE national labs and dozens of industry, academic and state and local government partners, aligned into six technical areas. These teams come together to imagine the grid of the future and to close high-priority technology and security gaps facing the U.S. power grid as it deals with growth, disruptive operating changes and future threats. GMLC research and development will receive up to $220 million in funding over the next three years through the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The task is not simple. The grid must deliver reliable, affordable and clean electricity to consumers where they want it, when they want it and how they want it. And it must be secure against many different types of physical and cyber intrusion threats, as well as natural disasters and severe storms and hurricanes. Juan Torres, deputy director for Sandia’s Renewable Systems and Energy Infrastructure Program, leads the GMLC’s Grid Security and Resilience team, a 12-lab team tasked with developing a multiyear program plan for research necessary to keep the increasingly interconnected electric power grid secure and resilient. “Sandia has decades of experience in physical and cybersecurity, and in providing resilience support for the power grid and some of the most critical infrastructures in the nation, such as nuclear power plants, oil and gas installations and water and transportation systems,” Torres said. “Sandia’s capabilities, coupled with assets at our partner labs, bring tremendous resources for the nation.” Charles Hanley, Sandia’s senior manager for the Grid Modernization Program, is coordinating Sandia’s support for the GMLC. “Sandia engineers and scientists are excited to be applying decades of technology leadership in national security areas to help create a modern electric grid. The GMLC is an excellent avenue to increase our technical collaborations and ensure a broad national impact for this critical work,” said Hanley. Sandia also will support projects in New Mexico, Kentucky, Alaska and Hawaii, and will be part of broad teams on numerous other technology development projects under the GMLC program. Ultimately, the consortium will help develop a unified grid modernization strategy for the DOE, in partnership with utilities and other grid stakeholders, and will support implementing that strategy using the strong technical and institutional knowledge and capabilities present across the national laboratory complex. Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, NM, and Livermore, CA, Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

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