Most solar energy designs are somewhat bulky. They usually take the forms of long panels, photovoltaic “bricks” or require large amounts of surface area in the case of the still-in-development solar paint. Sandia National Laboratories has turned that idea on its head.
Greg Nielson has developed Microsystems-Enabled Photovoltaic (MEVP) cells that are around the size of glitter. According to Nielson, his MEVP makes solar energy cheaper, more efficient and reliable. Continue reading
Hybrid supercomputers are opening new possibilities in research across the fields of science and engineering, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has launched a new conference to discuss the advances made possible by extreme-scale hybrid supercomputers. The Accelerating Computational Science Symposium 2012 will take place March 28-30 in Washington, D.C. Continue reading
The changes to military tech that often get the most coverage are the big toys like tougher tanks, faster planes or missiles with longer range. While those things are neat, the smaller a technical breakthrough is, the more likely it will see mass adoption and the more it can make its presence known. Sandia National Laboratories has managed to improve on what might be the smallest piece of kit common to all soldiers. The bullet.
Sandia has successfully test-fired a 50 mm bullet that uses laser guidance to hit its target. Plastic sabots protect tiny fins until after the bullet is fired. Once it’s in flight, the bullet acts like a guided missile, seeking out and homing on to targets painted with a laser. Watched in slow motion, the bullet actually pitches and yaws as it travels.
Simulation plays a critical role in design — even in very, very, very, small structures. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are performing simulations at microscopic levels (with help from CEI’s EnSight software) in order to predict the performance of nanowires.
Nanowires are tiny wires composed of precious metals or semiconductors that could aid in the development of next-generation electronic devices. Researcher Jonathan Zimmerman and others at Sandia have been performing simulations to help improve fabrication of these wires.
Nanowire performance is affected by deformities in the wires. Zimmerman performs simulations to predict those deformities, when the wires will fail and by which physical mechanisms, and how nanowire geometry influences the failure process.
That’s where EnSight comes in. Sandia uses specialized code to perform those simulations, and utilizes EnSight to visualize and analyze the results. Zimmerman is able to demonstrate the properties of the nanowires using EnSight, and provide 3D renderings of the results. He also performs atomistic simulation, modeling defects at the microscopic level to verify characteristics of the nanowires and predict how tension and compression levels can affect them at the molecular level.
“By being able to demonstrate the failure processes of the deformation of nanowires, we can better understand how and when to properly manipulate them for more efficient usage in a variety of technologies.” — Jonathan Zimmerman, Sandia National Laboratories
Nanowires could be used to link very small electronic components. Researcher at Stanford have used them to improve Lithium-Ion batteries, and Sandia created the world’s smallest single nanowire battery two years ago.
You can see a movie demonstrating some of the work the team is doing with EnSight here.