June 27, 2008

UCLA Sens anti-aging conference abstracts

There will be about thirty speakers at the Understanding aging conference in UCLA this weekend

Here are links to the abstracts of the presentations and some of the highlighted presentations.

Zheng Cui will discuss his Natural Cancer Resistance in Mice and in Humans: basis for a novel cancer therapy (GIFT therapy was covered here) and if successful would be a significant advance in reducing cancer deaths. [possibly a high cure rate and preventing many cancers by helping people fight off early stage cancer]

A new clinical trial is underway at Wake Forest University to test this novel cancer therapy, termed "Leukocyte Infusion Therapy" or LIFT. This clinical trial has met all regulatory requirements including approval by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine's Institutional Review Board (IRB) and been granted an IND (Investigational New Drug) status by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

B.N. Ames talks about delaying the Degenerative Diseases of Aging

I [B.N. Ames] propose that during evolution micronutrient shortages were very common, e.g. the 15 essential minerals, which are not distributed evenly on the earth. The consequences of this homeostatic response are, for example, DNA damage (future cancer), adaptive immune dysfunction (future severe infection), and mitochondrial decay (future cognitive dysfunction and accelerated aging). Much evidence supports this idea that micronutrient shortages accelerate aging.

S.F. Badylak of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA will be talking about Regenerative Medicine and Aging

Regenerative medicine is typically based upon the strategic use of undifferentiated stem and progenitor cells, inductive bioscaffolds, and appropriate micro-environmental cues that signal the need for tissue reconstruction. In many respects, the desired result is the recapitulation of developmental biology but limited to a specific tissue or organ. There are many fundamental questions yet to be answered with regard to implementation of such strategies in an aging population. Do aging cells have the same potential for regeneration as young cells? Are biologic scaffolds composed of extracellular matrix from fetal tissues more "instructive" than biologic scaffolds harvested from adult extracellular matrix? How does the micro-environment of aged tissues and organs differ from that or neonatal tissues and organs? These and other questions will be discussed.

Aging: the Disease, the Cure, the Implications

L.A. Briggs will discuss the struggle to keep telomeres long

The purpose of this presentation will be to review the current progress [to keep telomeres long], including the recent discovery of several small molecules that induce telomerase activity in normal human cells.

J. Campisi will discuss New tricks for dealing with old cells?

Some senescent cells can escape immune killing by secreting very high levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). These enzymes likely destroy the ligand-receptor interactions that are needed for killing by natural killer cells. Moreover, the killing of senescent cells can be greatly enhanced by MMP inhibitors, which therefore hold promise for improving the clearance of senescent cells from aged or diseased tissues. We also find that the senescence-associated secretion of inflammatory cytokines is dependent on continuous DNA damage signaling, particularly signaling initiated by the ATM protein kinase. Ablation of ATM kinase activity by RNA interference markedly reduces inflammatory cytokine secretion, suggesting that ATM inhibition might also hold promise for reducing local inflammation caused by senescent cells

C. Gravekamp is working on an improvement of cancer vaccination for older people

K.E. Healy is presenting Synthetic Environments to control Human Embryonic Stem Cell Self-Renewal and Fate Determination

Larocca is presenting Targeted Nanoparticle Probes for Identifying, Tracking and Isolating Embryonic Stem Cell Derived Progenitor Cells

C. Leeuwenburgh will be presenting Mitochondrial iron accumulation with age and functional consequences

D.A. Taylor will be presenting three-fold cell-based approaches to cardiovascular repair and answering the question Is Aging a Treatable Disease in the 21st Century?

Over twenty poster abstracts

The agenda of the conference with links to abstracts.

Pre-coverage of the conference

and coverage of Wired article on the conference

The new SENS projects AmyloSENS, ApoptoSENS, Glycosens, Oncosens and Replenisens

Iraqis: 43% say Iraq is going well while 17% of americans say USA on right track

An Ipsos poll indicates that 17% of Americans feel that the United States is on the right track

An opinion poll in February, found that 43% of Iraqis felt that things were going well in Iraq So more than twice the percentage of Iraqis are polling positively about their country versus the percentage of Americans who are polling positively about the USA.

Progress in various areas, such as the economy and security, and actions by the Government of Iraq (GOI) have improved the situation in Iraq. An opinion poll conducted in February found that 43% of Iraqis thought that things were going well in Iraq, up from 22% in September of 2007. The rising price of oil combined with improvements in production has given the GOI more money to spend than before the First Gulf War and the subsequent embargo of Iraqi oil. This increase in revenue has not yet led to noticeable positive change in public services and economic growth remains constrained by the lack of skilled employees in both the public and private sectors; the middle class makes up much of Iraq’s refugees and internally displaced. However, 12 million Iraqis now use cellular phones and 261,000 are Internet subscribers, both of which were negligibly by Iraqis prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Foreign oil companies, with both capital and technical expertise, could feasibly extract an additional 3.5 million barrels of oil, adding 4% to the global supply of crude. While Iraq’s oil infrastructure is aging and in need of a multi-billion dollar investment to contemporize it, Iraq sits atop the world’s fourth largest oil reserve, a fact which appeals to investors

The Economist magazine summarizes the mostly improved Iraq situation

Metals are formed into porous nanostructures

Self assembly of the nanostructure of platinum has been performed on a bulk scale. They used the new method to create a platinum structure with uniform hexagonal pores on the order of 10 nm across (a nanometer is the width of three silicon atoms). Platinum is, so far, the best available catalyst for fuel cells, and a porous structure allows fuel to flow through and react over a larger surface area. The researchers have made fairly large chunks of porous platinum this way, up to at least a half-centimeter across. In addition to making porous materials, the researchers said, the technique could be used to create finely structured surfaces, the key to the new field of plasmonics, in which waves of electrons move across the surface of a conductor with the information-carrying capacity of fiber optics, but in spaces small enough to fit on a chip.

Cornell researchers have developed a method to self-assemble metals into complex nanostructures. Applications include making more efficient and cheaper catalysts for fuel cells and industrial processes and creating microstructured surfaces to make new types of conductors that would carry more information across microchips than conventional wires do.

"This is exciting," Wiesner said. "It opens a completely novel playground because no one has been able tostructure metals in bulk ways. In principle, if you can do it with one metal you can do it with mixtures of metals.

The Weiser group has been studying mesostructured silicates.

The method involves coating metal nanoparticles -- about 2 nanometers (nm) in diameter -- with an organic material known as a ligand that allows the particles to be dissolved in a liquid, then mixed with a block co-polymer (a material made up of two different chemicals whose molecules link together to solidify in a predictable pattern). When the polymer and ligand are removed, the metal particles fuse into a solid metal structure.

"The polymer community has tried to do this for 20 years," said Ulrich Wiesner, Cornell professor of materials science and engineering, who, with colleagues, reports on the new method in the June 27 issue of the journal Science. "But metals have a tendency to cluster into uncontrolled structures. The new thing we have added is the ligand, which creates high solubility in an organic solvent and allows the particles to flow even at high density."

Another key factor, he added, is to make the layer of ligand surrounding each particle relatively thin, so that the volume of metal in the final structure is large enough to hold its shape when the organic materials are removed.

Highly crystalline mesoporous transition-metal oxides have been synthesized by J. Lee and co-workers at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY). Mesoporous materials with crystalline pore walls are desirable in many technologies and materials, such as photocatalysis, sensors, and fuel cells.

The Weiser group is doing a lot of interesting science.

An earlier step in their research

Cornell researchers have developed a "one-pot" process to create porous films of crystalline metal oxides that could lead to more efficient fuel cells and solar cells

Nanostructure copper interfaces for enhanced boiling

Koratkar and his team found that by depositing a layer of copper nanorods on the surface of a copper vessel, the nanoscale pockets of air trapped within the forest of nanorods "feed" nanobubbles into the microscale cavities of the vessel surface and help to prevent them from getting flooded with water. This synergistic coupling effect promotes robust boiling and stable bubble nucleation, with large numbers of tiny, frequently occurring bubbles.

"By themselves, the nanoscale and microscale textures are not able to facilitate good boiling, as the nanoscale pockets are simply too small and the microscale cavities are quickly flooded by water and therefore single-use," Koratkar said. "But working together, the multiscale effect allows for significantly improved boiling. We observed a 30-fold increase in active bubble nucleation site density — a fancy term for the number of bubbles created — on the surface treated with copper nanotubes, over the nontreated surface."

Boiling is ultimately a vehicle for heat transfer, in that it moves energy from a heat source to the bottom of a vessel and into the contained liquid, which then boils, and turns into vapor that eventually releases the heat into the atmosphere. This new discovery allows this process to become significantly more efficient, which could translate into considerable efficiency gains and cost savings if incorporated into a wide range of industrial equipment that relies on boiling to create heat or steam.

Caption: A scanning electron microscope shows copper nanorods deposited on a copper substrate. Air trapped in the forest of nanorods helps to dramatically boost the creation of bubbles and the efficiency of boiling, which in turn could lead to new ways of cooling computer chips as well as cost savings for any number of industrial boiling application. Credit: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute/ Koratkar

The team's discovery could also revolutionize the process of cooling computer chips. As the physical size of chips has shrunk significantly over the past two decades, it has become increasingly critical to develop ways to cool hot spots and transfer lingering heat away from the chip. This challenge has grown more prevalent in recent years, and threatens to bottleneck the semiconductor industry's ability to develop smaller and more powerful chips.

Boiling is a potential heat transfer technique that can be used to cool chips, Koratkar said, so depositing copper nanorods onto the copper interconnects of chips could lead to new innovations in heat transfer and dissipation for semiconductors.

Supporting material for the research paper

Advances toward quantum control: better trapped ion quantum gates, hybrid molecules in silicon, quantum coral

The new molecule is a hybrid, with the naturally occurring arsenic at one end in a normal spherical shape and a new, artificial atom at the other end in a flattened, 2-D shape. By controlling the voltage, the researchers found that they could make an electron go to either end of the molecule or exist in an intermediate, quantum, state.

Progress toward gate model Quantum Computer components with new molecule with more easily controlled quantum properties

"Our experiment made us realize that industrial electronic devices have now reached the level where we can study and manipulate the state of a single atom," Rogge says. "This is the ultimate limit, you can not get smaller than that."

Physicist Lloyd Hollenberg and colleagues at the University of Melbourne in Australia were able to construct a theoretical silicon-based quantum computer chip based on the concept of using an individual impurity.

"The team found that the measurements only made sense if the molecule was considered to be made of two parts," Hollenberg says. "One end comprised the arsenic atom embedded in the silicon, while the 'artificial' end of the molecule forms near the silicon surface of the transistor. A single electron was spread across both ends.

"What is strange about the 'surface' end of the molecule is that it occurs as an artifact when we apply electrical current across the transistor and hence can be considered 'manmade.' We have no equivalent form existing naturally in the world around us."

Klimeck, along with graduate student Rajib Rahman, developed an updated version of the nano-electronics modeling program NEMO 3-D to simulate the material at the size of 3 million atoms.

In a Nature Physics journal paper currently online, the researchers describe how they have created a new, hybrid molecule in which its quantum state can be intentionally manipulated - a required step in the building of quantum computers.

"Up to now large-scale quantum computing has been a dream," says Gerhard Klimeck, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University and associate director for technology for the national Network for Computational Nanotechnology.

"This development may not bring us a quantum computer 10 years faster, but our dreams about these machines are now more realistic."

Fault tolerant Trapped ion quantum gate

Towards fault-tolerant quantum computing with trapped ions

Ion traps are among the most promising physical systems for constructing a quantum device harnessing the computing power inherent in the laws of quantum physics. For the implementation of arbitrary operations, a quantum computer requires a universal set of quantum logic gates. As in classical models of computation, quantum error correction techniques enable rectification of small imperfections in gate operations, thus enabling perfect computation in the presence of noise. For fault-tolerant computation, it is believed that error thresholds ranging between 10**-4 and 10**-2 will be required—depending on the noise model and the computational overhead for realizing the quantum gates—but so far all experimental implementations have fallen short of these requirements. Here, we report on a Mølmer–Sørensen-type gate operation entangling ions with a fidelity of 99.3(1)%. The gate is carried out on a pair of qubits encoded in two trapped calcium ions using an amplitude-modulated laser beam interacting with both ions at the same time. A robust gate operation, mapping separable states onto maximally entangled states is achieved by adiabatically switching the laser–ion coupling on and off. We analyse the performance of a single gate and concatenations of up to 21 gate operations.

Changing the properties of a Quantum Corral by changing one atom

Single-atom gating of quantum-state superpositions

Unprecedented control over the superposition of electronic states of a 'quantum corral', by changing the position of a single atom within it, provides a powerful tool for studying the quantum behaviour of matter. Quantum corral are discussed in creating quantum mirages

Work by Chris Moon and others at Stanford working in the Manipulating the Atom group

The ultimate miniaturization of electronic devices will probably require local and coherent control of single electronic wavefunctions. Wavefunctions exist within both physical real space and an abstract state space with a simple geometric interpretation: this state space—or Hilbert space—is spanned by mutually orthogonal state vectors corresponding to the quantized degrees of freedom of the real-space system. Measurement of superpositions is akin to accessing the direction of a vector in Hilbert space, determining an angle of rotation equivalent to quantum phase. Here, we show that an individual atom inside a designed quantum corral1 can control this angle, producing arbitrary coherent superpositions of spatial quantum states. Using scanning tunnelling microscopy and nanostructures assembled atom-by-atom2, we demonstrate how single spins and quantum mirages3 can be harnessed to image the superposition of two electronic states. We also present a straightforward method to determine the atom path enacting phase rotations between any desired state vectors. A single atom thus becomes a real-space handle for an abstract Hilbert space, providing a simple technique for coherent quantum-state manipulation at the spatial limit of condensed matter.

Publications of Jan Benhelm

June 26, 2008

Carnival of Space Week 60

Wired Magazine has positive SENS coverage

Wired magazine has a positive article on Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) and Aubrey deGrey

Digg that article here

Other researchers have also found some success pursuing similarly structured research programs. For example, late last year, the Buck Institute for Age Research received $25 million from the National Institutes of Health to establish a home for the "new scientific discipline of geroscience." The new field, and its research institute, are dedicated to proactively fighting aging with researchers from a dizzying array of fields.

In research that will first be presented on Friday at the conference, Methuselah-funded scientists will demonstrate a proof-of-concept experiment for using bacterial enzymes to fight atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries. That's an idea that de Grey has been pushing for years.

Gandhi describing his critics,
1. they ignore you
2. then they laugh at you
3. then they fight you
4. then you win

The Fourth Stage of SENS and Aubrey deGrey
"In perhaps seven or eight years, we'll be able to take mice already in middle age and treble their lifespan just by giving them a whole bunch of therapies that rejuvenate them," de Grey said. "Gerontologists all over, even my most strident critics, will say yes, Aubrey de Grey is right."

Even as he imagines completing Gandhi's fourth step, de Grey always keeps his eye on the ultimate prize -- the day when the aging-as-disease meme reaches the tipping point necessary to funnel really big money into the field.

"The following day, Oprah Winfrey will be saying, aging is a disease and let's fix it right now," de Grey said.

New Oil production for the United States: Thunder Horse

The British Petroleum offshore oil rig Thunder Horse started production on June 14, 2008 This is US domestic oil in the gulf of Mexico. It will be producing 250,000 barrels of oil per day in 2009.

Thunder Horse page at BP.com

The new production is still not enough as the CIBC is predicting $200 per barrel of oil and $7 per gallon in the USA by 2010.
While Americans are already driving 11 billion fewer miles than they did last year, a decline of 4.3%, they still drive today about 30% more than they did before the OPEC oil shocks. The elasticity of driving to gasoline prices is estimated to be around the 0.06. That means a 10% rise in gasoline prices will eventually lead to a 0.6% reduction in miles driven. Using that rule of thumb, the 280% cumulative rise in gasoline prices between 2004 and our target $7 per gallon target price should induce more than 15% reduction in miles driven on American roads.

This would be predicted to apply a hit to the US economy.

At a minimum, once the worst of the housing shock passes, the Fed will be forced to raise real interest rates back to zero in order to prevent an improving economy from allowing wages and other prices to catch up to oil. With CPI trending at an energy- and food-driven 4%, that will entail 200 basis points in tightening to get to a 4% funds rate by the end of next year. As a result of our upward revised call for both oil and interest rates, we’ve chopped our US growth forecast for 2009 from just over 2% as of two months ago, to little over 1%, no better than this year’s housing-blunted performance. The US economy has managed to avoid feeling the full brunt of oil prices over the last few years, but 2009 will be the year that its luck runs out

Thunder Horse’s actual “production profile” hinges on “well performance” and “how fast we are able to drill and connect new wells,” BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell cautioned.

The Thunder Horse field is located in Mississippi Canyon Blocks 776, 777 and 778, in the Boarshead Basin, 125 miles south-east of New Orleans. It is the largest field in the Gulf of Mexico and lies at a water depth of 6,000ft. The field was discovered in 1999. BP operates the development (75% interest), with co-venturer ExxonMobil owning the balance. The reservoir consists of Upper Miocene turbidite sandstones 6,000m beneath the seabed in 1,900m of water. Pressures exceed 1,200bar and temperatures reach 135°C

Norway Alvheim; Volund; Vilje had first oil June 9, 2008 as well.
Marathon Oil believes the Alvheim; Volund; Vilje output will be at 75,000 bpd in early 2009

Other oil megaprojects for 2008

Russia's Yuzhno-Khylchuyuskoye "YK" for July 2008 start to get 150,000 bpd in 2009
Russia's Vankorskoye for October 2008 to get 420,000 bpd peaking in 2017
Brazil Marlim Sul Mod 2 P-51 for August 2008 to get 180,000 bpd
Brazil Marlim Leste P-53 for August 2008 to get 180,000 bpd
Brazil Marlim Leste (FPSO Cidade de Niteroi) Dec 2008 for 100,000 bpd
Canada's Horizon Oil Sands Project (Phase I) for Sept 2008 start to get 110,000 bpd

China moving to World Bank Upper middle income classification in 2010

Although China's economic size on an exchange rated basis has passed Germany this year and will pass Japan in 2009 and will probably pass the United Statesin 2016, China is still classifed as a lower middle income country by the World Bank. This means that using a 3 year average of exchange rates and looking at the GDP according to the Atlas method on July 1st of a year, that China has per capita GDP between $906 - $3,595.

At the end of 2009, China's currency could have appreciated and the size of its economy grown so that it has $4153 per capita of GDP. But the level at the middle of the year not including Hong Kong and Macau would be about $3500. So it would take until 2010 to get to $3890 per capita using the 3 year average of currency appreciation if this sites forecast for growth and currency were correct. When China passes the United States it will probably not be what the World bank considers a high income country with per capita income at $11,116 or more.

UPDATE: The Economist magazine reports that China has a lot of hot money flowing into the country ($500 billion in 2008)
This causes inflation pressure and requires that China mass sterilization. Excess liquidity is mopped up by by issuing bills (as “sterilisation”) or by lifting banks’ reserve requirements. But all this complicates monetary policy.

To curb future inflation, China therefore needs to stem the flood of capital.

One solution would be a large one-off appreciation of the yuan so that investors no longer see it as a one-way bet. This, in turn, would give the PBOC room to raise interest rates. The snag is that the yuan would probably have to be wrenched perhaps 20% higher to alter investors’ expectations, and this is unacceptable to Chinese leaders, especially when global demand has slowed and some exporters are already being squeezed.

This implies that monetary policy will remain too loose. The longer that the torrent of hot money continues and interest rates remain too low, the bigger the risk that underlying inflation will creep up.

Thus the constant appreciation at a rate as fast or slightly faster than the 7% of the first half of 2008 seems likely. Perhaps 20-25% over the next 18 months. This would put the exchange rate with the US dollar of 5.15 to 5.5 at the end of 2009.

Achieving World Bank Upper middle income per capita income levels would be getting up to the level of Jamaica and a little better than Thailand in 2006. High income is getting up to the level of Hungary in 2006 or better.

When people say that China cannot catch up the overall size of the US economy then they are saying that China cannot raise per capita income to the level of Hungary.

China is a massive country with a population several times Europe. So the move to different income levels is and will be uneven. Shanghai is passing into High income levels. Hong Kong and Macau area already high income. The coastal cities and provinces are already upper middle income and will move to high income levels first. The rural and interior areas will lag at low income and lower middle income levels.

The 2006 list of upper middle income countries

American Samoa, Argentina, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile,
Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Grenada,
Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia,
Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Montenegro, Northern Mariana Islands, Oman,
Palau , Panama, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia,
Seychelles, Slovak Republic, South Africa, St. Kitts and Nevis,
St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Turkey, Uruguay,
Venezuela, RB

China will have an installed nuclear power capacity of 40 million kilowatts on the mainland by 2020, or four percent of the total installed power generation capacity. New official projects with a combined capacity of 23 million kilowatts are being launched, involving a total investment of 450 billion yuan (about $60 billion).

New permanent near terabit per square inch computer memory

Capacitors in the mask: Thanks to a 100 nm thin mask made of aluminum oxide (above), the German and Korean research team were able to trickle the ceramic (PZT) onto the platinum layer (Pt). The scientists then cut off some platinum to create electrical contact to the ceramic. Image: Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics

Individually addressable epitaxial ferroelectric nanocapacitor arrays with near Tb inch- 2 density that could displace current computer memory Permanent high density memory.

Woo Lee1, Hee Han Andriy Lotnyk, Markus Andreas Schubert, Stephan Senz, Marin Alexe, Dietrich Hesse, Sunggi Baik & Ulrich Gösele1


- Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics, Weinberg 2, D-06120 Halle, Germany
- Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Pohang University of Science and Technology, San 31, Hyoja-dong, 790-784 Pohang, Korea
- Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS), Yuseong, 305-340 Daejon, Korea

Ferroelectric materials have emerged in recent years as an alternative to magnetic and dielectric materials for nonvolatile data-storage applications. Lithography is widely used to reduce the size of data-storage elements in ultrahigh-density memory devices. However, ferroelectric materials tend to be oxides with complex structures that are easily damaged by existing lithographic techniques, so an alternative approach is needed to fabricate ultrahigh-density ferroelectric memories. Here we report a high-temperature deposition process that can fabricate arrays of individually addressable metal/ferroelectric/metal nanocapacitors with a density of 176 Gb inch- 2. The use of an ultrathin anodic alumina membrane as a lift-off mask makes it possible to deposit the memory elements at temperatures as high as 650 °C, which results in excellent ferroelectric properties.

The permanent memory produced through the German-Korean cooperation can save 176 billion bits per square inch, which is 27 billion bits per square centimeter - more than any comparable memory made of this type of material. "We are approaching memory density of several terabits or billions of bits per square inch, and we hope to be able to increase the memory density even further," relates Dietrich Hesse. Such high memory density is necessary for more widespread use of permanent memory. They could, for example, make the hard-drive and tedious booting up of computers a thing of the past.

three-dimensional nanoscale structures of magnetic metals could make new classes of MEMS devices

Click on the picture for a larger image. Working in the trenches: Transmission electron microscopy image of a thin cross section of 160 nanometer trenches shows deposited nickel completely filling the features without voids. (Color added for clarity.)

Materials scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a process to build complex, three-dimensional nanoscale structures of magnetic materials such as nickel or nickel-iron alloys using techniques compatible with standard semiconductor manufacturing. The process, described in a recent paper, could enable whole new classes of sensors and microelectromechanical (MEMS) devices.

The NIST team also demonstrated that key process variables are linked to relatively quick and inexpensive electrochemical measurements, pointing the way to a fast and efficient way to optimize the process for new materials.

The NIST process is a variation of a technique called “Damascene metallization” that often is used to create complicated three-dimensional copper interconnections, the “wiring” that links circuit elements across multiple layers in advanced, large-scale integrated circuits. Named after the ancient art of creating designs with metal-in-metal inlays, the process involves etching complex patterns of horizontal trenches and vertical “vias” in the surface of the wafer and then uses an electroplating process to fill them with copper. The high aspect ratio features may range from tens of nanometers to hundreds of microns in width. Once filled, the surface of the disk is ground and polished down to remove the excess copper, leaving behind the trench and via pattern.

The big trick in Damascene metallization is ensuring that the deposited metal completely fills in the deep, narrow trenches without leaving voids. This can be done by adding a chemical to the electrodeposition solution to prevent the metal from building up too quickly on the sides of the trenches and by careful control of the deposition process, but both the chemistry and the process variables turn out to be significantly different for active ferromagnetic materials than for passive materials like copper. In addition to devising a working combination of electrolytes and additives to do Damascene metallization with nickel and a nickel-iron alloy, the NIST team demonstrated straightforward measurements for identifying and optimizing the feature-filling process thereby providing an efficient path for the creation of quality nanoscale ferromagnet structures.

C.H. Lee, J.E. Bonevich, J.E. Davies and T.P. Moffat. Magnetic materials for three-dimensional Damascene metallization: void-free electrodeposition of Ni and Ni70Fe30 using 2-mercapto-5-benzimidazolesulfonic acid. Journal of The Electrochemical Society, 155 (7) D499-D507 (2008).

The new process makes it feasible to create complex three-dimensional MEMS devices such as inductors and actuators that combine magnetic alloys with non-magnetic metallizations such as copper interconnects using existing production systems.

June 25, 2008

Amory Lovins distorts nuclear energy and promotes air pollution

Amory Lovins wrote the nuclear illusion which looks at the data from 2000 forward or 1990 forward but he claims a decades long (plural so at least two decades and Lovins has been claiming nuclear collapse since the 1970s) collapse of nuclear energy.

Since 1980, nuclear power TWH has increased by over 400%. So Amory Lovins is wrong about nuclear energy being a collapsing industry.

The charts that Lovins uses are only looking at 2000 forward or look at "new additions" when the bulk of nuclear power generation increases was from operating improvement and uprates to existing reactors.

The "micropower" is mostly diesel, biomass and natural gas of small and big sizes. Natural gas has 4 deaths per TWH (Externe source). So 2500 Twh (to displace nuclear power) would be 10,000 deaths per year. The diesel (oil) portion is 35 deaths per TWH. The biomass about 10 deaths per TWH (35,000 deaths per year if diesel was the main source). The blended rate of deaths per TWH from micropower is over 12 deaths per TWH. Far higher than the 0.65 deaths per TWH calculated by Externe for nuclear power. Even if the micropower deaths per TWH was cut in half for lower distribution losses the number is still far higher. Diesel and natural gas are not renewable. Over 75% of the power that Lovins is talking about is diesel, natural gas and biomass.

Deaths per TWH for all energy sources
Natural gas is not renewable. So is Lovins advocating an increase of more than double the US military deaths of the 5+ years of the Iraq war every year from more natural gas air pollution and other causes ?

All energy build costs went up with the increase in commodity prices (steel, concrete, oil)

There are wind turbine shortages and backorders for several years for the large efficient turbines.

Nuclear operating costs and efficiency are on continuing to the improvements that they have made for decades.

Laser uranium enrichment 3-10 times cheaper and more efficient.

Existing nuclear power plants are getting 20 year extensions and power uprates.
MIT/Westinghouse commercializing new 50% power uprates for annular fuel.

Further analysis of deaths per TWH

Nuclear power build in China and the rest of the world

Feed in tariffs subsidies for renewables

Energy costs with externalities

Staffing an expanding nuclear industry

constructing a lot of nuclear power is not supply constrained

Nuclear forging bottleneck is being addressed

Idaho national lab plan to extend nuclear plants to 80 years of operation and increase build in the USA to over 10 reactors per year

New smaller and mass produced reactors will address the larger finance issues

Mass producable uranium hydride reactors

The Fuji molten salt reactor

David Bradish critique part 1 vs Nuclear illusion

David Bradish critique part 2 vs Nuclear illusion

David Bradish critique part 3 vs Nuclear illusion

David Bradish critique part 4 vs Nuclear illusion

Gristmill rebuttal part one

Gristmill/Lovins rebuttal part 2

Amory Lovins supports "clean coal"

Amory Lovins fossil fuel apologist

Approximate visible light cloak simulated and practical device within reach

Silicon photonic crystal has holes of the right sizes and waveguides

In computer simulations, the researchers have demonstrated an approximate cloaking effect created by concentric rings of silicon photonic crystals. The mathematical proof brings scientists a step closer to a practical solution for optical cloaking.

"This is much more than a theoretical exercise," said Harley Johnson, a Cannon Faculty Scholar and professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois. "An optical cloaking device is almost within reach."

Axisymmetric photonic crystal structures may be designed to possess interesting optical properties, particularly when the photonic band structure of the material is highly anisotropic. We use finite element calculations to demonstrate an approximate electromagnetic cloaking effect imparted by a structure consisting of concentric silicon photonic crystal layers. The results show that it is possible to bend light around an object by simply using anisotropy. The calculations show that the cloaking mechanism is fundamentally different from Pendry's approach. This design may work as a practical solution for optical cloaking.

D. Xiao and H. T. Johnson, “Approximate cloaking effect in an axisymmetric silicon photonic crystal structure,” Optics Letters, 33, 860-862 (2008).

In October 2006, an invisibility cloak operating in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum was reported by researchers at Duke University, Imperial College in London, and Sensor Metrix in San Diego. In their experimental demonstration, microwave cloaking was achieved through a thin coating containing an array of tiny metallic structures called ring resonators.

To perform the same feat at much smaller wavelengths in the visible portion of the spectrum, however, would require ring resonators smaller than can be made with current technology, Johnson said. In addition, because metallic particles would absorb some of the incident light, the cloaking effect would be incomplete. Faintly outlined in the shape of the container, some of the background objects would appear dimmer than the rest.

To avoid these problems, postdoctoral research associate Dong Xiao came up with the idea of using a coating of concentric rings of silicon photonic crystals. The width and spacing of the rings can be tailored for specific wavelengths of light.

"When light of the correct wavelength strikes the coating, the light bends around the container and continues on its way, like water flowing around a rock," Xiao said. "An observer sees what is behind the container, as though it isn't there. Both the container and its contents are invisible."

Currently simulated in two dimensions, the cloaking concept could be extended to three dimensions, Xiao said, by replacing the concentric rings with spherical shells of silicon, separated by air or some other dielectric.

The researchers' optical cloaking technique is not perfect, however. "The wave fronts are slightly perturbed as they pass around the container," said Johnson, who also is affiliated with the university's Beckman Institute and the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory. "Because the wave fronts don't match exactly, we refer to the technique as 'approximate' cloaking."


Invisibility to sound for acoustic shields (hide nuclear deterrent submarines from sonar detection) and shaping sound and other waves (like earthquakes) is also coming soon

Researchers at the University of Illinois are the first to achieve optical waveguiding of near-infrared light through features embedded in self-assembled, three-dimensional photonic crystals. Applications for the optically active crystals include low-loss waveguides, low-threshold lasers and on-chip optical circuitry.

Harley Johnson site

Photonic crystal tutorial

Silicon photonic crystal

Scanning electron micrograph of a porous silicon photonic crystal

June 24, 2008

Space elevator games and Lunar lander contest 2008 preview

The Space elevator power beaming (climber) competition is on Sept 27, 2008

Vertical Distance: 1 kilometer (ten times the 2007 distance)
Speed for prizes: 2 m/s for $900,000 and 5 m/s for $2 million

11 teams have entered the 2008 power beaming / climbing contest

The University of Saskatchewan space design team
The University of Saskatchwan team almost won in 2007
University of Alberta racing team
Queen's space elevator team
McGill Space elevator team

Kansas City Space Pirates
MClimber from Michigan
NSS Space elevator team
Laser Motive
TXL group

Team Nippon
Earth track controllers

Proving Space Elevator components by 2010
The Space Elevator requires two major achievements: a tether which is at least 30 GPa-cc/g strong (see below), and a long-range power beaming system in the Mega-Watt range.
The Spaceward foundation plan to demonstrate by the year 2010, a 10 GPa-cc/g CNT tether, and a multi-kWatt km-scale power beaming demonstration.

With these benchmarks demonstrated, the Spaceward Foundation plans to pursue a 5-year development phase (phase 1) of full-performance components, followed by a 5-year system development effort (phase 2). This puts the beginning of construction (phase 3) around the year 2020.

Tether strength to weight ratio seems to be on track to reach the necessary levels by 2013.

In 2007, 9 GPa g/cc strenth material for millimeter lengths

"High-Performance Carbon Nanotube Fiber", Krzysztof Koziolet al, Science Magazine, 2007 - Measurement of the strongest of a sample of mm-long pure aggregated carbon nanotube fibers.

In 2008, 40 GPa g/cc
from Sparse (Carbon nanotubes) CNT Composite

"The extraordinary reinforcing efficiency of single-walled carbon nanotubes in oriented poly(vinyl alcohol) tapes", Wang et al. IOP Nanotechnology vol. 18 –
inferred strength of SWNTs from a 1% CNT reinforced plastic tape.

Abstract. This paper reports on oriented poly(vinyl alcohol)/single-walled carbon nanotube (PVA/SWNT) tapes that were prepared by a mild processing route, involving the use of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as a solvent. Composite films with homogeneously dispersed SWNTs were cast from solution and drawn into oriented tapes using solid-state drawing. The obtained tapes showed the extraordinary reinforcing effects of the SWNTs, as the addition of 1.0 wt% SWNTs tripled the tensile strength of the PVA tapes. Micromechanical analysis showed that the nanotube contribution to the composite strength was as high as 88 GPa, which is very high when compared to other data reported in the literature, and for the first time begins to exploit the theoretical strength of nanotubes.

Goal 2010, 35 GPa g/cc for 1000 km x mm

Minimal value for Space Elevator ribbon, Taper Ratio=6.3 with 33% safety factor.
Comparative Ribbon Mass = 4.6 - May require more efficient power system.

Goal 2011, 50 GPa g/cc for 1000 km x mm

Basic value for Space Elevator ribbon, Taper Ratio=3.5 with 33% safety factor.
Comparative Ribbon Mass = 2.0

Goal 2012, 80 GPa g/cc for 1000 km x mm

Desirable value for Space Elevator ribbon, Taper Ratio=2.5 with 50% safety factor.
Comparative Ribbon Mass = 1.0

The 2008 work by Z Wang is getting a follow up navy study for increased percentages of carbon nanotubes in plastic

This STTR requests proposals that develop a clear scientific understanding of the main obstacles to ultrahigh CNT loading in nanocomposites and that proposes new methods or approaches to increasing the loading of well dispersed CNTs in structural resins beyond 10% weight fraction.

The Lunar Lander contest is October 24-25, 2008
There was almost a winner in 2007 and 2006. There should be a winner in 2008.

Space Elevator conference Friday, July 18 thru Sunday, July 20 in Redmond Washington

2nd European climber workshop - Luxembourg - October 18 thru October 19. 2008

1st Japanese space elevator conference Nov 2008

Wikipedia on the space elevator

Fuzzwich and Techshop at Demo party

Went to a Demo networking event last week

In 1991, Stewart Alsop changed the technology conference circuit by instituting a new event with new rules: DEMO would be about the products; would require timed, live demonstrations; and would not allow PowerPoint presentations. These rules still stand. Startups communicate the power and value of emerging technologies on stage in a short 360 second.

Two of companies at that event:

Fuzzwich.com who make animation simpler. An example that I created in a few mintues is below.

Techshop is an open access public workshop with rapid prototyping machines and many other tools Techshop membership costs $100-125/month. They have classes where you can learn how to use the equipment to start making inventions.

TechShop Menlo Park / HQ is located at 120 Independence Dr, Menlo Park, California, just to the east of 101 near Marsh Road on the San Francisco peninsula.

Every demo 2007 startup ranked by thedeal.com

Gas centrifuge versus laser uranium enrichment

General Electric has licenced and is commercializing a laser uranium enrichment process. The Silex laser uranium enrichment process has been indicated to be an order of magnitude more efficient than existing production techniques but again, the exact figure is classified.

Australian scientists Michael Goldsworth and Horst Struve developed the process, and from 1996 to 2002 received support from the United States Enrichment Corp. (Bethesda, MD); the two scientists have since formed a public corporation, Silex Systems (Lucas Heights, NSW, Australia). Last year they licensed the Silex process to General Electric. The process is based on selective excitation of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) molecules that contain U-235 by laser light at a narrow spectral line near 16 µm, but few details have been released (see figure). The Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, NM) initially explored the concept three decades ago, but the U.S. Department of Energy later abandoned it in favor of atomic-vapor laser isotope enrichment.

The CO2 lasers can generate 1 J pulses, but only at a limited repetition rate, and only a fraction of the pulse is in the pump band. Unspecified “additional nonlinear optical tricks” are needed to convert the CO2 pump light to the correct wavelength to pump the Raman cell. The lasers are 1% efficient and the Raman conversion 25% efficient, so the overall efficiency is 0.25%.

With many details classified or proprietary, it is hard to quantify the processing. Lyman wrote that if a laser could illuminate a one-liter volume at an ideal repetition rate, it would take about 100 hours to produce one kilogram of U-235-assuming complete separation of the U-235 and U-238 isotopes. However, most processes require multiple stages of separation, and according to Lyman’s comments, a 5000 Hz laser would be needed to process all the feed stream (a mixture of UF6 and an unidentified diluting gas).

Solid state lasers able to be continuously tuned from the 0.2 to 10 micron range

Free electron lasers can operate 3 to 100 microns and in the 6-35 micron ranges

The US Navy has funded development of megawatt solid state free electron lasers for delivery in 2012

The new solid state lasers could be more efficient for the desired frequency and wavelengths.

The specific energy consumption is 2300-3000 kWh/SWU for Gaseous Diffusion, versus 100-300 kWh/SWU for gas centrifuge. The number of stages required to produce LEU is about 30 times larger in the diffusion plant than in the centrifuge plant.

A kilogram of LEU requires roughly 11 kilograms U as feedstock for the enrichment process and about 7 separative work units (SWUs) of enrichment services. To produce one kilogram of uranium enriched to 3.5% U-235 requires 4.3 SWU if the plant is operated at a tails assay 0.30%, or 4.8 SWU if the tails assay is 0.25% (thereby requiring only 7.0 kg instead of 7.8 kg of natural U feed).

Areva's recently announced Idaho enrichment plant, estimated to cost $2 billion, is expected to supply 3 million SWU or half the capacity of the GE plant at full production. The full-scale GE plant, expected to supply 3.5-6.0 million SWU, will require additional investor commitments. The GE laser enrichment plant would start at 1 million SWU/year and then get expanded Close to one million kilograms/year of enriched uranium using 7 SWU per kg.

25 page powerpoint presentation made April 2008 on Silex

Silex is also examining Oxygen-18 (PET medical imaging) and Carbon-13 (medical diagnostic) laser separation.
Laser enrichment at Idaho Samizdat

Silex company site

Worldwide Uranium demand and Nuclear Reactor fuel requirements translate into a requirement for uranium enrichment separative work services in the range 35–38 million SWU/year over the next 10 years.

About 120,000 kg SWU are required to enrich the annual fuel loading for a typical large (1,000 MWe) nuclear reactor.

The Silex process is inefficient for highly enriched uranium at this time

The up to ten times greater enrichment efficiency improves the energy efficiency of nuclear power and the cost efficiency of nuclear fuel and operations.

Uranium: 8.9 kg U3O8 x $53 472
Conversion: 7.5 kg U x $12 90
Enrichment: 7.3 SWU x $135 985 [Silex could reduce this by 3-10 times]
Fuel fabrication: per kg 240
Total, approx: US$ 1787

The Rich still got richer and more numerous

The Merryl Lynch/Cap Gemini Wealth report for 2008 is out looking back at 2007 statistics As of 2007 there are 10.1 millionaires in the world, which is an increase of 600,000 over 2006.

HNWI wealth grew by 9.4%, to US$40.7 trillion—a slight deceleration from the 11.4% growth witnessed in 2006. The largest regional gains in wealth were in Latin America and the Middle East, up by 20.4% and 17.5%, respectively. For their part, Ultra-HNWIs (those with over 30 million in assets not including their primary house) posted the highest gains of any “wealth band,” both in population, up 8.8%, and total assets, up 14.5%.

Prior wealth chart update

2007200620052004Wealth Amount
8532US$30B+ Forbes list (which mainly catches owners
77674932US$10B+ of public assets, can underestimate some
203167124102US$5B+ like CTO of Cisco, who may be billionaire
1125946793691US$1B+ from cisco stock + large startup positions)
10,000940082007500US$160M+ (my own estimate)
103,30095,0008540077500US$30M+ (UHNW, ultra high net worth class)
990,000(e)930,000820000745000US$5 to 30M
9.3M8.6M 7.8M7.4M US$1-5M Global number, US number 33% (2.6 million)
10.1M9.5M 8.7M8.2MUS$1M+ Global number, US number 33% ( 2.6 million)
28M~26M~24M~22MUS$500K-1M doesn't include primary residence, (estimate)

The 2007 world wealth report

Future wealth projection

What countries should do to win for their people

Researchers develop neural implant that learns with the brain

University of Florida researchers have taken the concept of brain machine interfaces a step further, devising a way for computerized devices not only to translate brain signals into movement but also to evolve with the brain as it learns. This is a huge step forward to transhuman and technological singularity goals. The computer and the user co-evolve to learn to work together more effectively.

Until now, brain-machine interfaces have been designed as one-way conversations between the brain and a computer, with the brain doing all the talking and the computer following commands. The system UF engineers created actually allows the computer to have a say in that conversation, too, according to findings published this month online in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.

"In the grand scheme of brain-machine interfaces, this is a complete paradigm change," said Justin C. Sanchez, Ph.D., a UF assistant professor of pediatric neurology and the study's lead author. "This idea opens up all kinds of possibilities for how we interact with devices. It's not just about giving instructions but about those devices assisting us in a common goal. You know the goal, the computer knows the goal and you work together to solve the task."

Sanchez and his colleagues developed a system based on setting goals and giving rewards. Fitted with tiny electrodes in their brains to capture signals for the computer to unravel, three rats were taught to move a robotic arm toward a target with just their thoughts. Each time they succeeded, the rats were rewarded with a drop of water.

The computer's goal, on the other hand, was to earn as many points as possible, Sanchez said. The closer a rat moved the arm to the target, the more points the computer received, giving it incentive to determine which brain signals lead to the most rewards, making the process more efficient for the rat. The researchers conducted several tests with the rats, requiring them to hit targets that were farther and farther away. Despite this increasing difficulty, the rats completed the tasks more efficiently over time and did so at a significantly higher rate than if they had just aimed correctly by chance, Sanchez said.

"We think this dialogue with a goal is how we can make these systems evolve over time," Sanchez said. "We want these devices to grow with the user. (Also) we want users to be able to experience new scenarios and be able to control the device."

Photo gallery for the article

Al fin comments on this development and refers to another brain implant advance

The other brain implant advance is described in an IEEE Spectrum June 2008 article. Michigan engineers are developing a closed-loop deep-brain stimulation device for Parkinson's disease that would listen to the brain while stimulating it.

The group is also trying to make the system more energy efficient. They claim to have already reduced the power consumption and size compared with other stimulators, characteristics that would translate into huge benefits for a clinical model.

Pictures related to the Michigan Parkinsons disease related brain stimulation [not the learning feedback system from Florida]:

June 23, 2008

Effective Gene Silencing and targeted Gene therapy advance

A fluorescent image of the cell taken four hours into the same experiment. At this time the quantum dot-siRNA complex is distributed throughout the cellular fluid. The dark region in the middle of the cell is the nucleus. Credit: University of Washington

New work helps to overcome a long standing barrier in the siRNA (silence/turn off genes using RNA) field: How to achieve high silencing efficiency with low toxicity. The new quantum dot approach is 5-10 times less toxic and 7 to 25 times more effective. (98% of gene activity was stopped).

Quantum dots, fluorescent balls of semiconductor material just six nanometers across, was surrounded by a proton sponge that carried a positive charge. Without any quantum dots attached, the siRNA's negative charge would prevent it from penetrating a cell's wall. With the quantum-dot chaperone, the more weakly charged siRNA complex crosses the cellular wall, escapes from the endosome (a fatty bubble that surrounds incoming material) and accumulates in the cellular fluid, where it can do its work disrupting protein manufacture.

Key to the newly published approach is that researchers can adjust the chemical makeup of the quantum dot's proton-sponge coating, allowing the scientists to precisely control how tightly the dots attach to the siRNA.

Quantum dots were dramatically better than existing techniques at stopping gene activity. In experiments, a cell's production of a test protein dropped to 2 percent when siRNA was delivered with quantum dots. By contrast, the test protein was produced at 13 percent to 51 percent of normal levels when the siRNA was delivered with one of three commercial reagents, or reaction-causing substances, now commonly used in laboratories.

Central to the finding is that fluorescent quantum dots allow scientists to watch the siRNA's movements. Previous siRNA trackers gave off light for less than a minute, while quantum dots, developed for imaging, emit light for hours at a time. In the experiments the authors were able to watch the process for many hours to track the gene-silencer's path.

The new approach is also five to 10 times less toxic to the cell than existing chemicals, meaning the quantum dot chaperones are less likely to harm cells.

Researchers from Northwestern University and Texas A & M University have discovered a new way to limit gene transfer and expression to specific tissues in animals.

They were able to target a particular type of cell of gene therapy treatment. They are working to generalize and identify DNA sequences for targeting other types of cells.

Exciton communication and transistors could be the basis of new faster computers

An circuit that uses excitons for computing flashes light as the particles decay to release photons. Credit: Leonid Butov/UCSD

Particles called excitons that emit a flash of light as they decay could be used for a new form of computing better suited to fast communication, physicists at UC San Diego have demonstrated. Switching times on the order of 200 picoseconds have been demonstrated so far. (A picosecond is one trillionth of a second). While exciton computation itself may not be faster than electron-based circuits, the speed will come when sending signals to another machine, or between different parts of a chip that are connected by an optical link. The gallium arsenide excitonic circuits will only work at frigid temperatures - below 40 degrees Kelvin (or -390 degrees Fahrenheit), a limit determined by the binding energy of the excitons. The operating temperature can be increased by choosing different semiconductor materials.

Integrated circuits, assemblies of transistors that are the building blocks for all electronic devices, currently use electrons to ferry the signals needed for computation. But almost all communications devices use light, or photons, to send signals. The need to convert the signalling language from electrons to photons limits the speed of electronic devices.

Leonid Butov, a professor of physics at UCSD, and his colleagues at UCSD and UC Santa Barbara have built several exciton-based transistors that could be the basis of a new type of computer, they report this week in an advance online version of the journal Science. The circuits they have assembled are the first computing devices to use excitons.

"Our transistors process signals using exitons, which like electrons can be controlled with electrical voltages but unlike electrons transform into photons at the output of the circuit,” Butov said. “This direct coupling of excitons to photons bridges a gap between computing and communications."

Excitons are pairs of negatively charged electrons and positively charged “holes” that are created by light in a semiconductor such as gallium arsenide. When the electron and hole recombine, the exciton decays and releases its energy as a flash of light.

Breakthrough could be significant step to faster Spintronic computers

click on the image for a larger version of the picture

Physicists at UC Riverside have made an accidental discovery in the lab that has potential to change how information in computers can be transported or stored. The thickness of MgO (Magnesium Oxide) can control the flow of electrons with different spin.

When the MgO interface is very thin, spin up electrons, represented in this image with an arrow to the right, are reflected back to the semiconductor. At an intermediate thickness of the interface, spin down electrons are reflected back to the semiconductor, resulting in a “spin reversal” that can be used to control current flow.

Inversion of Ferromagnetic Proximity Polarization by MgO Interlayers at Physics Review Letters by

Yan Li,1 Y. Chye,1 Y. F. Chiang,1 K. Pi,1 W. H. Wang,1 J. M. Stephens,2 S. Mack,2 D. D. Awschalom,2 and R. K. Kawakami1

1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Riverside, California 92521, USA 2Center for Spintronics and Quantum Computation, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA

We investigate the spin-dependent reflection properties in Fe/MgO/GaAs heterostructures by optical pump-probe measurement of the ferromagnetic proximity polarization (FPP). As a function of MgO thickness, the FPP is initially enhanced (<2.0 Å) and then exhibits an unexpected sign reversal at ~5.0 Å. The identification of two competing thresholds in the intensity dependence of FPP and the observation of FPP sign reversal in Fe/Mg/GaAs suggest that the inversion of FPP is related to an interfacial bonding effect.

Impossible control of number electrons on the surface of a superconductor made real

A team of University of British Columbia researchers has developed a technique that controls the number of electrons on the surface of high-temperature superconductors, a procedure considered impossible for the past two decades.

Led by Physics Assoc. Prof. Andrea Damascelli, the team deposited potassium atoms onto the surface of a piece of superconducting copper oxide. The approach allows the scientists to continuously manipulate the number of electrons on ultra-thin layers of material. This level of control of electrons on surfaces will have applications beyond superconductors to other materials.

From the Nature Physics paper:In situ doping control of the surface of high-temperature superconductors

Central to the understanding of high-temperature superconductivity is the evolution of the electronic structure as doping alters the density of charge carriers in the CuO2 planes. Superconductivity emerges along the path from a normal metal on the overdoped side to an antiferromagnetic insulator on the underdoped side. This path also exhibits a severe disruption of the overdoped normal metal's Fermi surface. Angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) on the surfaces of easily cleaved materials such as Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+ shows that in zero magnetic field the Fermi surface breaks up into disconnected arcs. However, in high magnetic field, quantum oscillations at low temperatures in YBa2Cu3O6.5 indicate the existence of small Fermi surface pockets. Reconciling these two phenomena through ARPES studies of YBa2Cu3O7- (YBCO) has been hampered by the surface sensitivity of the technique. Here, we show that this difficulty stems from the polarity and resulting self-doping of the YBCO surface. Through in situ deposition of potassium atoms on cleaved YBCO, we can continuously control the surface doping and follow the evolution of the Fermi surface from the overdoped to the underdoped regime. The present approach opens the door to systematic studies of high-temperature superconductors, such as creating new electron-doped superconductors from insulating parent compounds.

UPDATE: The Vancouver Sun reports on the steps used

First, the copper oxide is put in a stainless-steel chamber kept in "outer space vacuum conditions" to avoid contaminating the sample, Damascelli explained. Atoms of potassium are then deposited onto the sample's surface, leaving behind electrons.

The second trick involves a technique that goes back to Albert Einstein's Nobel Prize-winning research into the photoelectric effect. Researchers shine light on the sample, which is absorbed by the electrons and ejected from the sample in a way that can be measured.

"This study that we do is the only way to really understand what is happening inside the superconductor," Damascelli said.

The experiment is groundbreaking for two reasons: Scientists are now able to control the number of electrons on the surface of a superconductor, and can also observe them.

"Extremely thin layers and surfaces of superconducting materials take on very different properties from the rest of the material. Electrons have been observed to re-arrange, making it impossible for scientists to study," says Damascelli. "It's become clear in recent years that this phenomenon is both the challenge and key to making great strides in superconductor research.

"The new technique opens the door to systematic studies not just of high-temperature superconductors, but many other materials where surfaces and interfaces control the physical properties," says Damascelli. "The control of surfaces and interfaces plays a vital role in the development of applications such as fuel cells and lossless power lines, and may lead to new materials altogether."

The superconductors Damascelli's team experimented on are the purest samples currently available and were produced at UBC by physicists Doug Bonn, Ruixing Liang and Walter Hardy.

Part of the study was carried out at the Advanced Light Source synchrotron in California. In the future, the design and study of novel complex materials for next-generation technologies will be carried out at the Quantum Materials Spectroscopy Center currently under construction at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon under Damascelli's leadership.

Profile of Andrea Damascelli

Arata Cold Fusion follow up : how much excess heat

This is a follow up on the Arata cold fusion experiment which was showing excess heat

Physics world has a review of the Arata cold fusion research This information is a review of the Arata cold fusion work at the LENR-CANR site. [Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, also known as Cold Fusion. (CANR, Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reaction)]

Based on 0.5 to 1 degree celsius of excess heat for one liter of water for 5000 minutes then it appears to be about 200-400 kwh of excess heat.

A deuterium (cold fusion) versus hydrogen (ordinary chemical) experiment is performed by Arata. There is always a significant temperature difference between T (inside, Tin) and T(surface of the energy cell, Ts), indicating that the sample and cell are not reaching equilibrium. After 300 minutes the Tin of the deuterium experiment is about 28 °C (4 °C warmer than ambient), while Tin/Ts of the hydrogen experiment is at about 25 °C (1 °C warmer than ambient).

Arata claims that, given the large amount of power involved, this must be some form of fusion — what he prefers to call "solid fusion". This can be described, he says, by the following equation:

D + D = 4He + heat

The deuterium experiments remain 1 °C or more than ambient for at least 3000 minutes while still exhibiting the temperature difference between the sample and the cell, Tin and Ts.

20 °C calorie: the amount of energy required to warm 1 g of air-free water from 19.5 °C to 20.5 °C at a constant pressure of 101.325 kPa (1 atm). This is about 4.182 J. The experiment appears to have been dealing with one liter of water. So one extra degree for 5000 minutes would be 300,000 seconds times 4172 joules which is 1251.6 megajoules. This is 347.6 kwh. Being able to convert that thermal energy into electricity would not be efficient without boosting the temperature.

June 22, 2008

Saudi Arabia oil: Background on Zuluf, Safaniyah, Berri, Khurais and Shaybah the sources of increased production

The increased production fields have rectangles around the name. Information from the EIA Saudi Arabia Country report Click on the picture for a larger version.

Saudi Arabia will increase production capacity to 12.5 million barrels a day of oil by the end of next year [2009] and could add a further 2.5 million barrels a day if needed, from some new giant fields, Naimi said.

The further daily capacity includes 900,000 barrels from the Zuluf field, 700,000 barrels from Safaniyah, 300,000 barrels from Berri, 300,000 barrels from Khurais and 250,000 barrels from Shaybah, Naimi said.

``Saudi Arabia is prepared and willing to produce additional barrels of crude above and beyond the 9.7 million barrels per day, which we plan to produce during the month of July, if demand for such quantities materializes and our customers tell us they are needed,'' Naimi said.

Saudi Arabia's capacity will be 12.5 million barrels a day by the end of 2009 and may rise to 15 million after that if necessary, he said

The market needs between 3 million and 4 million barrels a day of spare oil production capacity, compared with the 2 million barrels a day currently available, Bodman said. OPEC says the world's spare capacity is about 3 million barrels a day, with two- thirds of that in Saudi Arabia.

Safaniyah, by far the largest offshore oilfield in the world, was found in 1951 by Texaco (which in 1937 was the first to join SoCal - now Chevron - in Saudi Arabia as a 50% partner in Aramco. But now Taxaco is part of Chevron).

Safaniyah has over 15 bn barrels of proven oil reserves recoverable at relatively low cost. The oil is heavy, 27[degrees] API with 2.93-2.96% sulphur, and much of Safaniyah's 1.5m b/d capacity has been mothballed. Like most other offshore fields in the north-east, the oil is reservoired in Cretaceous sandstones and carbonates mainly at a depth of 5,100 ft.

Berri, found in 1964 by Mobil, is an onshore and offshore giant. It has over 10 bn barrels of 32-34-39 deg. API oil recoverable at relatively low cost. The field produces from several formations of Upper and Mid-Jurassic age, lying mostly at a depth of 8,300 feet. Its capacity has been raised from less than 700,000 b/d in 1990 to 1.15m b/d.

Berri crude oils are blended with lighter grades mostly produced from Abqaiq and the field's system can take crude oils from Qatif. The export blend is Arabian Extra Light, 38 deg. API with about 1% sulphur.

From the EIA country report: Shaybah contains an estimated 14.3 billion barrels of premium grade 41.6o API sweet (nearly sulfur-free) Arab Extra Light crude oil, with production as of November 2006, at around 550,000 bbl/d from 141 wells. It is the largest oil field in the world that has been developed in the past two decades. According to Oil Minister Naimi (October 1999), the development of Shaybah showed that "the cost of adding...capacity - that is, all the infrastructure, producing and transportation facilities - necessary to produce one additional barrel of oil per day in Saudi Arabia is, at most, $5,000 compared to between $10,000 and $20,000 in most areas of the world."

-The Shaybah complex includes three gas/oil separation plants (GOSPs) and a 395-mile pipeline to connect the field to Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia's closest gathering center, for blending with Arab Light crude (Berri and Abqaiq streams). In addition to oil, Shaybah has a large natural gas "cap" (associated gas), with estimated reserves of 25 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). Gas production of 880 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) is re-injected. It is reported that possible gas recovery project could be implemented within 5 or 6 years, potentially for use in petrochemical production.

-The Khurais fields (including Abu Jifan and Mazalij) west of Ghawar, will increase Saudi production capacity (of Arab Light) by 1.2 million bbl/d at a cost of $3 billion. Once online, Saudi Arabia will be the only oil producer to have two “super giant” fields, that which produce more than 1 million bbl/d of crude oil. This is to involve installation of four GOSPs, with a capacity of 200,000 bbl/d each, at Khurais, which first came online in the 1963, but was mothballed by Aramco some three-decades later. Aramco plans to drill at least 300 exploration wells with 23 rigs.

Click on the picture for a larger version.

Recent Saudi Oil Production was as low as 8.6 million bpd in 2007

Oil megaprojects from around the world

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