Archive for Steven Chu
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(GigaOm) It’s all very well talking about the evolution of wearable computing and the internet of things, but something has to power these thin and/or tiny devices. For that reason, it’s a good thing that so many ideas are popping up in the field of energy harvesting and storage. Some of these ideas were on display this week at the Printed Electronics Europe 2013 event in Berlin, which took in a variety of sub-events including the Energy Harvesting & Storage Europe show. The concepts ranged from the practical to the experimental, so let’s start with the practical.
Finding a way to exponentially double the hydrogen atoms to create a sustainable amount of hydrogen regeneration so that a new form of energy can be harvested is the ultimate goal of researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. Rajesh Shende, PhD, and Jan Puszynski, PhD, of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, have been awarded a $299,975 NSF three-year grant to test high-temperature water splitting in multiple thermochemical cycles. Using thermally-stabilized redox materials, particularly ferrites, already the team has documented reliable multiple-cycle results, sparking hope that sustainable hydrogen energy through the use of thermal hydro-splitting will one day be feasible, says Shende. Just two other US. locations, and possibly a third, are conducting similar research, according to Shende. One of the aspects that makes the Mines experiments unique is that the group has successfully split water molecules during multiple cycles at significantly lower temperatures than other documented research efforts. While others have demonstrated thermochemical splitting at 800-1,500°C, the School of Mines has documented multiple cycles at 700-1,100°C, which could potentially lead to a more affordable large-scale effort.
(YouTube) Scientists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Germany have created a new synthetic hybrid material with a mineral content of almost 90 percent, yet extremely flexible. They imitated the structural elements found in most sea sponges and recreated the sponge spicules using the natural mineral calcium carbonate and a protein of the sponge. Natural minerals are usually very hard and prickly, as fragile as porcelain. Amazingly, the synthetic spicules are superior to their natural counterparts in terms of flexibility, exhibiting a rubber-like flexibility. The synthetic spicules can, for example, easily be U-shaped without breaking or showing any signs of fracture. This highly unusual characteristic, described by the German researchers in the current issue of Science, is mainly due to the part of organic substances in the new hybrid material. It is about ten times as much as in natural spicules. The synthetic material was self-assembled from an amorphous calcium carbonate intermediate and silicatein and subsequently aged to the final crystalline material. After six months, the synthetic spicules consisted of calcite nanocrystals aligned in a brick wall fashion with the protein embedded like cement in the boundaries between the calcite nanocrystals.
Ceramics could be the key to providing soldiers with lighter and more effective body armor, according to a British research team attracting interest from the Ministry of Defense. “Most people are familiar with ceramics in the house—your plates, mugs and possibly your toilet,” says material scientist Hywel Jones of Sheffield Hallam University. The ceramics he hopes to use in body armor are in some ways similar being hard, light and brittle, but they are specialized versions known as engineering or technical ceramics. Jones is working with Anthony Pick, a ceramics consultant to develop new armor materials. The work is being carried out by XeraCarb, a spin-out business created by Sheffield Hallam to take its technology into production. They have produced a low-density composite ceramic which is mainly silicon carbide. Its manufacture requires lower furnace temperatures than similar materials, making it more energy efficient and cheaper to produce.
(MIT Technology Review) Buyers considering an electric car must bear in mind that using battery-powered heating and air conditioning can decrease the car’s range by a third or more. But, a heating and cooling system being developed by researchers at MIT almost eliminates the drain on the battery. The researchers are working with Ford on a system that they hope to test in Ford’s Focus EV within the next two years. The work is being funded with a $2.7 million grant from the ARPA-E. The researchers describe their new device as a thermal battery. It uses materials that can store large amounts of coolant in a small volume. As the coolant moves through the system, it can be used for either heating or cooling. In the system, water is pumped into a low-pressure container, evaporating and absorbing heat in the process. The water vapor is then exposed to an adsorbant—a material with microscopic pores that have an affinity for water molecules. This material pulls the vapor out of the container, keeping the pressure low so more water can be pumped in and evaporated. This evaporative cooling process can be used to cool off the passenger compartment. As the material adsorbs water molecules, heat is released; it can be run through a radiator and dissipated into the atmosphere when the system is used for cooling, or it can be used to warm up the passenger compartment. The system requires very little electricity-just enough to run a small pump and fans to blow cool or warm air. Eventually the adsorbant can’t take in any more water, but the system can be “recharged” by heating the adsorbant above 200°C. This causes it to release the water, which is condensed and returned to a reservoir.
In honor of DOE Secretary Chu’s last day at the department, here’s a look back at his time overseeing important investments in science, innovation, and clean energy technologies that are making America more competitive and helping us win the race for a clean energy future. For more than four years, he has provided remarkable leadership in pursuing both President Obama’s nuclear security agenda as well as an all-of-the-above approach to energy that invests in clean energy, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, addresses the global climate crisis, and supports the clean energy jobs of the future.
The same material that formed the first primitive transistors more than 60 years ago can be modified in a new way to advance future electronics, according to a new study. Chemists at Ohio State University have developed the technology for making a one-atom-thick sheet of germanium, and found that it conducts electrons more than ten times faster than silicon and five times faster than conventional germanium. The material’s structure is closely related to that of graphene—a much-touted two-dimensional material comprised of single layers of carbon atoms. As such, graphene shows unique properties compared to its more common multilayered counterpart, graphite. Graphene has yet to be used commercially, but experts have suggested that it could one day form faster computer chips, and maybe even function as a superconductor, so many labs are working to develop it. Joshua Goldberger, assistant professor of chemistry at Ohio State, decided to take a different direction and focus on more traditional materials.In a paper published online in ACS Nano, he and his colleagues describe how they were able to create a stable, single layer of germanium atoms. In this form, the crystalline material is called germanane. Researchers have tried to create germanane before. This is the first time anyone has succeeded at growing sufficient quantities of it to measure the material’s properties in detail, and demonstrate that it is stable when exposed to air and water.
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(cnn.com) Energy Secretary Steven Chu will resign from President Barack Obama’s Cabinet in coming weeks, he told Energy Department staff in a letter on Friday. Chu, who turns 65 this month, was a leading advocate in the Obama administration for alternative energy development, making him a target of the fossil fuel industry and its conservative supporters in Congress. He was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997 and headed the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab before becoming energy secretary in 2009. Chu also taught at the University of California. ”I informed the president of my decision a few days after the election that Jean and I were eager to return to California,” Chu said in the letter. “I would like to return to an academic life of teaching and research, but will still work to advance the missions that we have been working on together for the last four years.” He said he would stay on through an upcoming government energy research summit at the end of February, adding: “I may stay beyond that time so that I can leave the department in the hands of the new secretary.”
￼The Brilliant Mix LED color mixing concept from Osram Opto Semiconductors is now even easier to control thanks to a new universal controller from Elec-Con technology. The controller is available in a standard version—with or without a sensor—and in a customized version. It can be adapted to current building systems standards, such as DALI, KNX, and EIB. The controller concept has been developed as part of the LED Light for you network. Warm white light with high efficiency and a high color-rendering index are right at the top of the wish list for anyone looking for a feel-good factor in general illumination. The Brilliant Mix concept from Osram Opto Semiconductors shows how this can be achieved with semiconductor light sources. It provides efficiency of 110 lumen per watt and an excellent color-rendering index of more than 90. The basis for this concept is high-power Oslon LEDs in white and amber and also in bluish white and blue. The clever combination of LEDs of different colors results in white light in a spectrum from 2700 K (warm white) to 6500 K (cold white)
Raytheon officially opened a new UK-leading silicon carbide manufacturing “foundry” facility, developed through several years’ research into advanced manufacturing processes and materials science. The application of silicon carbide in electronic systems will place the UK in a leading position to develop next-generation, high-efficiency, smaller, low-weight power conversion products used in harsh environments across the automotive, aerospace, geothermal explorations, oil and gas, and clean energy sectors. Raytheon’s ability to process silicon carbide utilizes high-temperature annealing and high-temperature/high-voltage ion implantation. The components provide unique properties in electronics: silicon carbide has the ability to operate at higher voltages and greater temperatures than pure silicon, and at a third of the weight and volume—improving operational performance and reducing system operating costs. Raytheon is the first company to have successfully tested silicon carbide circuit devices at temperatures up to 400°C.
3M launched its Embedded Capacitance Material (ECM) C2006 at DesignCon 2013. The ultrathin laminate material is now available for high-volume manufacturing. With a capacitance density of approximately 20 nF per square inch, the material offers one of the highest capacitance densities currently available on the market in a halogen-free product. ECM C2006 boosts design engineers’ ability to improve power integrity and reduce electromagnetic interference in small devices—such as microphones, sensors, IC packaging and interposers—where space limitations require the highest capacitance density feasible to achieve the desired performance. The material’s high capacitance density helps designers achieve hi-fidelity signals, high signal-to-noise ratio in radio frequencies and higher speed digital signals in a variety of high-performance applications. The capacitor consists of a very thin layer of ceramic-filled epoxy sandwiched between two layers of copper foil.
(AOL Energy) Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR), a rocket engine maker based in California, celebrated another milestone in its effort to conserve energy and reduce waste with the commissioning of United Technology Corp.’s first operational large (400kW) fuel cell in the San Fernando Valley. The fuel cell is designed to reduce PWR’s carbon footprint - the reduction in green house gas and nitrogen dioxide emissions is equivalent to removing 120 cars from local highways. The fuel cell, a PureCell system, is about the size of a school bus, and is supplying power to the grid at the company’s De Soto Avenue campus. It is built by UTC Power, a subsidiary of PWR’s parent company, United Technologies Corp. The PWR fuel cell cost about $3 million installed and qualifies for incentives under the State’s Self Generation Incentive Program, as well as the federal investment tax credit which, when combined, can reduce the project cost by up to 60 percent.
On February 7 and 8, Allied Mineral Technical Services Inc., an affiliate of Allied Mineral Products, will present two papers at the Eastern States Blast Furnace and Coke Oven Association annual winter meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa. Jimmy Barrett, senior technical advisor, will be presenting maintenance, repair and beaching of blast furnace subs. Floris van Laar, director of technology and Bob Hansen, manager of refractory technology and construction services, will present on blast furnace taphole maintenance and repairs. Registration is still open. Please Allied Mineral for this informative event and feel free to ask our experts!
AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceutical company, has signed an agreement with Ceram Research Ltd, the international materials development company, for Ceram to develop its inorganic-based Controlled Release Technology in a feasibility study for the delivery of selected AstraZeneca compounds. “This technology, if successfully implemented, could provide AstraZeneca with an alternative formulation approach for delivering these compounds,” says Ceram CEO Tony Kinsella. CRT is just one of the development projects that Ceram’s team of materials experts is currently working on; others include multi-element substituted hydroxyapatite for orthopedic device coating applications. With Healthcare as one of its largest markets, the materials development business has ambitious plans to continue its growth in the US and Europe. Kinsella continues, “Our work is focused on commercial development of materials for industrial applications—exactly what a recent news item on the BBC said was lacking in Britain. We have, for example, recently helped Greatbatch Medical to gain FDA (510K) approval of a coating implant submission. We have also worked with GlaxoSmithKline in the proving of its Sensodyne toothpaste—a product that has seen substantial annual growth over the last decade, creating significant incomes for both GSK and the UK.”
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As Janine Schneider walks through the materials testing facility, her eyes light up; it is clear that she is comfortable between the long rows of test equipment. She knew she wanted to work here the moment she entered the premises of the DLR Institute of Materials Research in Cologne for the first time, during a trip there as a student. It was not so long ago. Janine Schneider was 20 years old when she first visited the Institute. Today, just eight years later, she is head of mechanical materials testing at the German Aerospace Center in Cologne. In the testing facility at the Institute of Materials Research, technicians, scientists and engineers subject samples to loads to determine the physical properties of various materials. “We break samples and, with the scientists, analyse why and how they broke,” is Schneider’s somewhat casual explanation of her team’s work. This enables the scientists to work out how the material behaves in tests that simulate operating conditions (testing of actual large structures under real working conditions is carried out by aircraft manufacturers, IMA Dresden or IABG).
Researchers are edging toward the creation of new optical technologies using “nanostructured metamaterials” capable of ultra-efficient transmission of light, with potential applications including advanced solar cells and quantum computing. The metamaterial—layers of silver and titanium oxide and tiny components called quantum dots—dramatically changes the properties of light. The light becomes “hyperbolic,” which increases the output of light from the quantum dots. Such materials could find applications in solar cells, light emitting diodes and quantum information processing far more powerful than today’s computers. Such metamaterials could make it possible to use single photons—the tiny particles that make up light-for switching and routing in future computers. While using photons would dramatically speed up computers and telecommunications, conventional photonic devices cannot be miniaturized because the wavelength of light is too large to fit in tiny components needed for integrated circuits.
Scientists have created and imaged the smallest possible five-ringed structure—about 100,000 times thinner than a human hair. A collaboration among the Royal Society of Chemistry, the University of Warwick, and IBM Research-Zurich has allowed the scientists to bring a single molecule to life in a picture, using a combination of clever synthetic chemistry and state-of-the-art imaging techniques. The scientists decided to make and visualize olympicene, whose five-ringed structure was entered two years ago on ChemSpider, the RSC’s free online chemical database of over 26 million records. David Fox and Anish Mistry, chemists at the University of Warwick, used some clever synthetic organic chemistry-the modern molecule designer’s toolbox-to build olympicene. “Alongside the scientific challenge involved in creating olympicene in a laboratory, there’s some serious practical reasons for working with molecules like this,” says Fox. “The compound is related to single-layer graphite, also known as graphene, and is one of a number of related compounds which potentially have interesting electronic and optical properties. For example these types of molecules may offer great potential for the next generation of solar cells and high-tech lighting sources such as LEDs.”
A new type of scanning probe microscopy can see nanoscale processes in real time, such as neurotransmitter release, alloy corrosion and photocatalysis. Researchers at Warwick University, alongside colleges in Japan, developed the method—coined voltage-switching electrochemical microscopy (VSM-SECM)—which can simultaneously provide information on the physical topography of surfaces, as well as localised functional activity. The new technique builds on the principles of scanning probe microscopy. With electrochemical microscopy the substrate surface of interest is placed in a chemical solution and the tip is lowered extremely close to it until a faradaic current formed. This gives flux information about the processes and reactions occurring, to which the tip is pre-tuned for particular molecular species. The tip then moves to the next ‘pixel’ point building an overall image. The tips are controlled by piezoelectric actuators in the Z axis, which can infer the topographical height of surface features based on the degree of deformation in the material and therefore current change. The Warwick team’s innovation was to develop a voltage-switching tip, which essentially allows functional and topographical information to be sampled simultaneously. The team also developed a novel pyrolytic carbon nanoelectrode for the tip that can be produced as small as 6 nanometers using a CO laser fabrication process.
NexTech Materials, Ltd. has received a contract from the Office of Naval Research for a Future Naval Capability (FNC) project aimed at design, development and demonstration of a compact energy system for unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). In this project, NexTech and its team will complete a comprehensive design of an energy-dense power system for a 21-inch diameter UUV. This system will be based on solid oxide fuel cell power generation using liquid hydrocarbon fuel (JP-10) and liquid oxygen reactants. The project provides follow-on funding for three years of previous development work under an SBIR project (Phases I and 2) funded by the Office of Naval Research. The starting point system design was established during this project, including a CAD model of the system and an analysis of system energy density over a range of conditions. In addition, a breadboard SOFC system was built and tested at the 1-kW scale.
Transparent armor solutions, based on polycrystalline, transparent ceramics such as ALON offer a factor of two improvement in areal density and thickness over conventional glass armor. ALON Transparent Armor also provides significant advantages for Night Vision Goggles (NVG) and situational awareness. Furthermore, ALON’s ease of manufacture makes it compatible with the very large scale, low cost manufacturing required to meet the growing demand for high performance applications. Surmet’s vertically integrated manufacturing capability begins with the synthesis of its own ALON powder from affordable precursor materials which are abundantly available in the USA. The combination of a dependable supply of low cost, ultra high purity powder, a robust and reproducible process for ALON blanks, and an established capability to fabricate these blanks into finished windows allows ALONTransparent Armor to be seriously considered for many current and future applications.
The Department of Energy will host the SunShot Initiative summit and technology forum <> June 13-14 at the Hyatt Regency in Denver, Colo. The SunShot Initiative seeks to achieve grid-parity solar energy within the decade. Through the Grand Challenge series, the DOE is launching a broad-based effort to address the scientific, technological and market barriers to achieving breakthroughs in national energy challenges. The Department is convening the best and brightest minds across government, industry and academia to strengthen US leadership in the global clean energy race, increase American economic prosperity and capture the new markets and jobs of the 21st century. The event will include plenary sessions featuring DOE Secretary Steven Chu and other industry leaders; group discussions focusing on the future priorities and transformational ideas needed to achieve the SunShot goal of cost-competitive solar by the end of the decade; a technology forum featuring exhibits from a wide range of SunShot partners and grant recipients, as well as DOE national labs.
Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a new type of blue pigment that could help boost the energy efficiency of buildings. Discovered unexpectedly three years ago, the “cool blue” pigment has unusually high infrared heat reflectivity which it is hoped can be channeled into commercial products in the near future. “This pigment has infrared heat reflectivity of about 40 percent, which is significantly higher than most blue pigments now being used,” said Mas Subramanian, an OSU professor of chemistry who discovered the compound. The chance discovery occurred during unrelated research into the electrical properties of manganese compounds. When heated to 2,000°F the compounds changed to a “beautiful blue,” researchers later determined that this was due to what’s described as the trigonal bipyramidal crystalline structure of some of these compounds. This became the starting point for the development of the pigment, which also has the advantage of being durable and environmentally-benign. The compound, which has now received patent approval, is also being investigated for various commercial application according to OSU and research into its molecular structure and reflective properties is ongoing. The initial blue color in the pigment came from the manganese used in the compound. The scientists have now discovered that the same structure will produce other colors simply by substituting different elements. The broader potential for these pigments, researchers say, is the ability to tweak essentially the same chemical structure in slightly different ways to create a whole range of new colors in pigments that may be safer to produce, more durable and more environmentally benign than many of those that now exist.
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A team led by Johns Hopkins engineers has discovered some previously unknown properties of a common memory material, paving the way for development of new forms of memory drives, movie discs and computer systems that retain data more quickly, last longer and allow far more capacity than current data storage media. The work was reported in the online edition of PNAS. The research focused on an inexpensive phase-change memory alloy composed of germanium, antimony and tellurium, called GST, for short. Although this phase-change material has been used for at least two decades, the precise mechanics of this switch from one state to another have remained something of a mystery because it happens so quickly-in nanoseconds-when the material is heated. To solve this mystery, Ming Xu and his team used another method to trigger the change more gradually. The researchers used two diamond tips to compress the material. They employed a process called X-ray diffraction and a computer simulation to document what was happening to the material at the atomic level. The researchers found that they could “tune” the electrical resistivity of the material during the time between its change from amorphous to crystalline form.
If you stacked alternating sheets of a material that conducts heat and another that insulates it, the heat would be conducted more freely sideways than in the top-to-bottom direction. Electrical engineers are familiar with this principle: It’s the same one that makes resistors, one of the most common electrical components, conduct more when wired in parallel than when wired in series. The breakthrough of the new research is to tailor composite materials so that their thermal conduction is not just side to side or top to bottom, but in a direction that changes throughout. “Heat current, like electric current, should be viewed as a medium that can be manipulated, controlled, and processed,” says study author Yuki Sato, a physicist at Harvard University. In principle, a thermal computer could be used for the same tasks as a normal computer, such as word processing or surfing the Internet, says Jiping Huang, a physicist at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. But a thermal computer would benefit from being energy saving, because it could run off waste heat in the environment—even heat produced by a human body.
The SunShot Grand Challenge: Summit and Technology Forum will feature key solar industry influencers at the event, which will take place June 13-14, 2012, in Denver, Colorado. Plenary speakers will include Energy Secretary Steven Chu; plasmonics pioneer Harry Atwater; SunPower founder Richard Swanson; BrightSource Energy CEO John Woolard. Additional speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.The forum is the first event in a series of DOE’s Grand Challenges. This event focuses on SunShot Initiative goals of achieving grid-parity solar energy within the decade. Through the Grand Challenge series, the Energy Department is launching a broad-based effort to address the scientific, technological, and market barriers to achieving breakthroughs in national energy challenges.
Drawing on powerful computational tools and a state-of-the-art scanning transmission electron microscope, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison and Iowa State University materials science and engineering researchers has discovered a new nanometer-scale atomic structure in solid metallic materials known as metallic glasses. This understanding ultimately could help manufacturers fine-tune such properties of metallic glasses as ductility, the ability to change shape under force without breaking, and formability, the ability to form a glass without crystalizing. In studies of a zirconium-copper-aluminum metallic glass, lead researcher Paul Voyles’ team found there are clusters of squares and hexagons-in addition to clusters of pentagons, some of which form chains-all located within the space of just a few nanometers. “One or two nanometers is a group of about 50 atoms-and it’s how those 50 atoms are arranged with respect to one another that’s the new and interesting part,” he says.
Strange new materials experimentally identified just a few years ago are now driving research in condensed-matter physics around the world. First theorized and then discovered by researchers at the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and their colleagues in other institutions, these “strong 3D topological insulators”—TIs for short-are seemingly mundane semiconductors with startling properties. For starters, picture a good insulator on the inside that’s a good conductor on its surface—something like a copper-coated bowling ball. A topological insulator’s surface is not an ordinary metal, however. The direction and spin of the surface electrons are locked together and change in concert. And perhaps the most surprising prediction is that the surface electrons cannot be scattered by defects or other perturbations and thus meet little or no resistance as they travel. In the jargon, the surface states remain “topologically protected”-they can’t scatter without breaking the rules of quantum mechanics. The TI in question is bismuth selenide, Bi2Se3, on whose surface electrons can flow at room temperature, making it an attractive candidate for practical applications like spintronics devices, plus farther-out ones like quantum computers. Much of the research on electron-phonon coupling in Bi2Se3 was conducted at beamline 12.0.1
(GigaOm) China likes to do things on a grand scale, which allows it to serve its vast population and brag about its technical advancements. The country is now building a 800-kilovolt transmission line that will ferry wind and solar power over 2,210 kilometers (1,373 miles) and when completed in 2014 could claim a world record for its capacity of 8 GW, according to the Chinese government-run China Daily. This isn’t the first project to use ultrahigh voltage direct current lines at 800 kV, which are state of the art. Both Siemens and ABB, two powerline equipment makers, previously announced projects selling their 800 kV equipment to China Southern Power Grid and State Grid Corporation of China, respectively. State Grid will also build the project touted by People’s Daily on Monday. The project will run power lines from the Hami prefecture in the Xinjiang province in the west to Zhengzhou city in Henan province in central China. The equipment will rise up along regions of big solar power development, such as the Gansu and Ningxia provinces. The project will cost 23.39 billion yuan ($3.7 billion), People’s Daily reports
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(Construction Europe) The start of 2012 marked the introduction of another tranche of emissions legislation in Europe and the U.S. - an extension of the EU Stage IIIB and U.S. Tier 4 Interim laws that came into force at the start of 2011 for the 130kW to 560kW power band. As of Jan. 1, 2012, the strict emissions limits - which call for a 90 percent reduction in particulate matter along with a 50 percent drop in nitrogen oxides (NOx)—also apply to the 56kW to 129kW power categories. These laws take emissions down to near-zero levels - in fact, some manufacturers say that in certain areas and inner cities, the requirements are so strict that their Tier 4 Final engines will act as air cleaners. To achieve this next step, engine manufacturers will have to use all the tools in their emissions reduction armoury. Depending on the engine size, this could mean a combination of cooled exhaust gas recirculation, selective catalytic reduction and diesel particulate filters.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu, speaking at an innovation conference organized by Oak Ridge National Lab, told industry leaders about the opportunity to use DOE’s supercomputing capabilities to accelerate the development and design of new products and to improve industrial competitiveness. Some of the country’s top technology CEOs were in attendance, including AMD’s Rory Read, Cray’s Peter J. Ungaro, NVIDIA’s Jen-Husn Huang and others. Through the national laboratories, DOE operates several of the fastest, most powerful supercomputers in the world and allows industry to use its facilities and expertise to for advanced computational modeling to accelerate product development. Chu says the supercomputers can aid the design of everything from advanced nuclear reactors to more efficient automobile engines.
Inspired by nature’s ability to shape a petal, and building on simple techniques used in photolithography and printing, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a new tool for manufacturing three-dimensional shapes easily and cheaply, to aid advances in biomedicine, robotics and tunable micro-optics. To date, the UMass Amherst researchers have made a variety of simple shapes including spheres, saddles and cones, as well as more complex shapes such as minimal surfaces.
Neutron testing of the Japanese-made superconducting cable for the central solenoid magnetic system for US ITER begins next Tuesday, says Ke An, lead instrument scientist for the VULCAN Engineering Materials Diffractometer at SNS. The 3-meter-long cable, mounted in a specially designed cryostat, can be cooled down to 80 K (-193.5°C). The mapping experiment will be performed at both room temperature and cryogenic conditions, for one week. U.S. ITER is contributing 100% of the design, R&D, and fabrication of the central solenoid for the giant ITER tokamak experimental fusion reactor. The CS is one of three magnet systems that will contain the burning plasma inside the tokamak. Past tests showed cable degradation under cyclic power loading conditions
A technique for creating a new molecule that structurally and chemically replicates the active part of the widely used industrial catalyst molybdenite has been developed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). This technique holds promise for the creation of catalytic materials that can serve as effective low-cost alternatives to platinum for generating hydrogen gas from water that is acidic. Christopher Chang and Jeffrey Long, chemists who hold joint appointments with Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, led a research team that synthesized a molecule to mimic the triangle-shaped molybdenum disulfide units along the edges of molybdenite crystals, which is where almost all of the catalytic activity takes place. Since the bulk of molybdenite crystalline material is relatively inert from a catalytic standpoint, molecular analogs of the catalytically active edge sites could be used to make new materials that are much more efficient and cost-effective catalysts.
NIST researchers have done a mash-up of two very different experimental techniques - neutron scattering and electrochemical measurements - to enable them to observe structural changes in nanoparticles as they undergo an important type of chemical reaction. Their recently published technique allows them to directly match up particle size, shape and agglomeration with the “redox” chemical properties of the particles. The measurements are important both for the design of nanoparticles for particular applications and for toxicology studies. The NIST team was interested in the redox properties of zinc oxide nanoparticles, which are used or being considered for a wide variety of applications ranging from sunscreens and antibacterial coatings to semiconductor and photoelectronic devices.
(Gizmag) California-based Envia Systems claims to have broken the world record for energy density in a rechargeable lithium-ion cell, with an automotive-grade battery that reportedly has a density of 400 Watt-hours/kilogram. Not only is that figure two to three times higher than what is currently possible with commercially-available cells, but Envia also claims that its battery should cost less than half the price of existing li-ion batteries. Testing of the battery was performed by the Electrical Power Systems Department at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind. Envia uses a high-apacity manganese-rich cathode based on technology created at Argonne National Laboratory. It consists of nickel, cobalt, manganese and Li2MnO3. Envia has introduced a patented nanocoating process to that mix, to enhance cycle life and safety. The HCMR is said to have twice the capacity of regular cathodes, and should be available for use in pilot vehicle projects later this year. A low-cost silicon-carbon nanocomposite acts as the anode. The composition of the Envia-developed electrolyte isn’t being revealed, although it is reportedly able to remain stable at higher voltages than currently used materials.