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Sandia Labs

— Science

World's smallest neutron generator – it's not just for nukes anymore

By - August 24, 2012 3 Pictures
Neutron generators provide materials analysis and non-destructive testing tools to many industries, including oilfield operations, heavy mechanical construction, art conservancy, detective work, and medicine. Many of these applications have been limited by the rather large size of current industrial and medical neutron sources. Now Sandia National Laboratories, the lab that develops and supports the non-nuclear parts (including neutron generators) of nuclear weapons, has developed a new approach toward building tiny neutron generators. Read More
— Robotics

Sandia modular robot hand brings a delicate touch to bomb disposal

By - August 17, 2012 1 Picture
Robots have been used routinely in bomb disposal for over forty years. Unfortunately, the standard way that robots deal with bombs is to blow them up. This removes the threat, but it also destroys valuable evidence that could lead to catching the bomb makers. Sandia National Laboratories has developed a new robot hand that is not only delicate enough to disarm a bomb rather than detonating it, but is relatively inexpensive and can even mend itself. Read More
— Science

Tiny new air samplers could aid in climate research

By - April 11, 2012 1 Picture
The monitoring of air quality can be a tricky business. Gases may be blown into the sampling site from another area, they may leak out of an air sample before it can be analyzed, or the sampling container itself may introduce compounds, emitted through off-gassing. If samples are being gathered in remote areas, it can also be difficult getting bulky equipment to and from the sampling site. Now, scientists from Sandia National Laboratories have announced a tiny new type of air sampler, that addresses these and other challenges. Read More
— Military

Nuclear UAV drones could fly for months at a time

By - April 3, 2012 1 Picture
Nuclear-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that would increase operational flight durations from days to months are a technological possibility today, according to a feasibility study undertaken last year by Sandia National Laboratories and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation. A nuclear power supply would additionally double the availability of electrical power to onboard systems, including weaponry, the study found. Read More
— Science

Sandia simulation suggests sunny skies for fusion reactors

By - April 2, 2012 3 Pictures
In the beginning, there was the thermonuclear bomb - mankind had harnessed the energy of the Sun. Confident predictions abounded that fusion reactors would be providing power "too cheap to meter" within ten years. Sixty years later many observers are beginning to wonder if billions of dollars of effort has been lost in digging out dry wells. Now a new simulation study carried out at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, suggests that magnetized inertial fusion (MIF) experiments could be retrofitted to existing pulsed-power facilities to obtain fusion break-even. Read More
— Medical

"Interface scaffolds" could wire prosthetics directly into amputees' nervous systems

By - March 4, 2012 3 Pictures
Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories have announced a breakthrough in prosthetics that may one day allow artificial limbs to be controlled by their wearers as naturally as organic ones, as well as providing sensations of touch and feeling. The scientists have developed a new interface consisting of a porous, flexible, conductive, biocompatible material through which nerve fibers can grow and act as a sort of junction through which nerve impulses can pass to the prosthesis and data from the prosthesis back to the nerve. If this new interface is successful, it has the potential to one day allow nerves to be connected directly to artificial limbs. Read More
— Electronics

Hybrid fiber optic cable carries data and power

By - February 3, 2012 1 Picture
When you want to isolate communications between two devices or locations, a fiber optic link is one of the best ways to go. Under some circumstances, however, you might also want to isolate the transmission of power – in situations where traditional copper wire might prove unsafe or impractical, for instance. That’s why researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are developing a power-over-fiber (PoF) communications cable. It carries not only data, but also optical power. Read More
— Science

Newly discovered molecule has potential to offset climate change and cool the planet

By - January 16, 2012 2 Pictures
Researchers claim a newly discovered molecule found in the Earth’s atmosphere holds the potential to help offset global warming by actually cooling the planet. The molecule is a Criegee biradical or Criegee intermediate, which are chemical intermediaries that are powerful oxidizers of pollutants produced by combustion, such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. They have the ability to naturally clean up the atmosphere by helping break down nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide to form sulfate and nitrate, which ultimately leads to cloud formation that could help cool the planet. Read More
— Science

White laser light found to be just as easy on the eyes as LEDs

By - October 27, 2011 3 Pictures
With incandescent light bulbs in the process of being phased out around the world, LEDs are one of the most promising technologies for taking over our day-to-day lighting needs – they use less energy, provide more light, contain less toxic substances, and are tougher than incandescents. That said, they may not be the one and only best choice. Lasers are even more efficient than LEDs at high amperages, although scientists have long believed that the quality of white light produced by diode lasers would be unpleasing to the human eye. According to a study recently carried out by Sandia National Laboratories, however, the human eye appears to like their light just fine. Read More
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