NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery Since 1974

Science News

thin solar cells Grossman

2D Monolayers Could Yield Thinnest Solar Cells Ever

October 21, 2013

New computer simulations have shown how using a different type of material could enable thinner, more lightweight solar panels that provide power densities – watts per kilogram of material – orders of magnitude higher than current technologies. Read More »


Clot Busting Simulations Test Potential Stroke Treatment

September 24, 2013

Researchers are using computer simulations to investigate how ultrasound and tiny bubbles injected into the bloodstream might break up blood clots, limiting the damage caused by a stroke in its first hours. Read More »


NERSC Calculations Provide Independent Confirmation of Global Land Warming Since 1901

September 9, 2013

Scientists report that land surface air temperatures estimated using a number of historical observations largely match the existing temperature measurements spanning the years 1901 to 2010. Read More »


OpenMSI: A Science Gateway to Sort Through Bio-Imaging’s Big Datasets

August 27, 2013

MSI technology is already helping doctors to better diagnose diseases, and leading to the creation of energy efficient and renewable biofuels. But researchers envision these areas of science progressing much faster—if only they had the computational tools to easily process, analyze and share these massive datasets. Now, they do—it’s called OpenMSI. Read More »


Computer Simulations Indicate Calcium Carbonate Has a Dense Liquid Phase

August 22, 2013

Berkeley Lab researchers find that calcium carbonate—the ubiquitous compound that is a major component of seashells, limestone, concrete, antacids and myriad other naturally and industrially produced substances—may momentarily exist in liquid form as it crystallizes from solution. Read More »


NERSC Helps Physicists ID New Molecules With Unique Features

August 10, 2013

Hollow magnetic cage molecules may have applications in technology, healthcare Read More »


Rising Sea Levels Due to Global Warming Are Unstoppable

August 5, 2013

A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions could greatly lessen the impacts of climate change. However, the gases already added to the atmosphere ensure a certain amount of sea level rise to come, even if future emissions are reduced. A study by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Gerald Meehl and colleagues quantifies the impact on oceans of the “climate commitment” being made now by human activity. Read More »


Throwing a Lifeline to Scientists Drowning in Data

August 1, 2013

Computational scientists at Berkeley Lab have figured out how to streamline the analysis of enormous scientific datasets. The analysis uses the same techniques that make complex subway systems understandable at a glance. Read More »


Physics of Intrinsic Plasma Rotation Explained for First Time

July 23, 2013

The quality of a fusion reaction is determined by plasma confinement at the edge, which is not yet completely understood due to the complicated interactions between multiscale physics. The SciDAC-developed XGC1 code, which was created using NERSC supercomputers, is the world’s first and only gyrokinetic code able to simulate the multiscale turbulence and background physics in realistic edge geometries. Read More »


With Nanoparticles, Slower May Be Better

July 5, 2013

Molecular dynamics simulations conducted at NERSC provide unprecedented understanding of nanoparticle structure and symmetry. Read More »


Thriving Tundra Bushes Add Fuel to Northern Thaw

June 28, 2013

Carbon-gobbling plants are normally allies in the fight to slow climate change, but in the frozen north, the effects of thriving vegetation may actually push temperatures higher. In a series of climate simulations performed at NERSC, a group of researchers found that the spread of bushes, taller ones especially, could exacerbate warming in northern latitudes by anywhere from 0.6°C to 1.8°C per year. What’s more, taller species have the potential to warm tundra soil more deeply, threatening… Read More »


Development of Advanced Materials Get Boost

June 24, 2013

The Materials Project—an open-access Google-like database for materials research developed by Berkeley Lab and MIT—is working with Intermolecular, Inc. to enhance the tool's modeling capabilities and thus accelerate the speed of new material development by tenfold or more. New materials are key to addressing challenges in energy, healthcare and national security. Read More »


Emission Regulations Reduced Impact of Climate Change in CA

June 13, 2013

A study using supercomputers at NERSC found that reductions in emissions of black carbon since the late 1980s, mostly from diesel engines as a result of air quality programs, have resulted in a measurable reduction of concentrations of global warming pollutants in the atmosphere, according to a first-of-its-kind study examining the impact of black carbon on California’s climate. Read More »


Trillion Particle Simulation on Hopper Honored with Best Paper

May 31, 2013

An unprecedented trillion-particle simulation, which utilized more than 120,000 processors and generated approximately 350 terabytes of data, pushed NERSC’s Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer to its limits. And, allowed Berkeley Lab researchers to glean valuable insights that will help thousands of scientists worldwide make the most of current petascale systems like Hopper and future exascale supercomputers. Read More »


Researchers Model Impact of Aerosols Over California

May 28, 2013

For the first time ever, researchers have characterized the relative, direct influence of different aerosol species on seasonal atmospheric warming and cooling over California using supercomputers at NERSC and at PNNL. Read More »


Math of Popping Bubbles in a Foam

May 9, 2013

Researchers have described mathematically the complex evolution and disappearance of foamy bubbles, a feat that could help in modeling industrial processes. Applying these equations, they used NERSC supercomputers to create visualizations showing the disappearance of wobbly foams one burst bubble at a time. Read More »


Aided by Simulations, Scientists Observe Atomic Collapse State

April 26, 2013

Aided by simulations generated at NERSC, scientists have finally confirmed a 70 year-old prediction in quantum mechanics: Electrons in super-heavy atoms can spiral into the nucleus and away again, emitting positron in the process, an effect known as atomic collapse state. This finding holds important implications for new kinds of graphene-based electronic devices, as well as future basic physics research. Read More »


Supercomputers Help a Catalyst Reach its Full Potential

April 23, 2013

Chemical reactions, facilitated by catalysts, are crucial to many industrial processes. Although many catalysts used in industry work just fine, researchers at PNNL want to help them reach their full potential. Read More »


BISICLES Captures Details of Retreating Antarctic Ice

March 30, 2013

Satellite observations suggest that the shrinking West Antarctic ice sheet is contributing to global sea level rise. But until recently, scientists could not accurately model the physical processes driving retreat of the ice sheet. Now, a new ice sheet model—BISICLES—is shedding light on these details. Read More »


Reading the Cosmic Writing on the Wall

March 21, 2013

Thanks to a sensitive space telescope and some sophisticated supercomputing performed at NERSC, scientists from the international Planck collaboration have made the closest reading yet of the most ancient story in our universe: the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Read More »


Simulations Yield Clues to How Cells Interact With Surroundings

March 21, 2013

Computer models offer a new look at the molecular machinery that enables cells to interact with their environment. The research has implications for cancer and atherosclerosis research. Read More »


NERSC Global Filesystem Played a Key Role in Discovery of the Last Neutrino Mixing Angle

February 7, 2013

Discovery of the last neutrino mixing angle was announced in March 2012, just a few months after the Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment’s first detectors went online in southeast China. But that result might not have been available so quickly without the NERSC Global Filesystem (NGF) infrastructure, which allowed staff at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) NERSC to rapidly scale up disk and node resources to accommodate the surprisingly large influx of data. Read More »


A Massive Stellar Burst Before the Supernova

February 6, 2013

An automated supernova hunt is shedding new light on the death sequence of massive stars—specifically, the kind that self-destruct in Type IIn supernova explosions. Read More »


NERSC Supercomputers Help Explain the Last Big Freeze

January 31, 2013

About 13,000 years ago, a catastrophic injection of freshwater into the North Atlantic “conveyor” triggered a major cold spell. But, how did the freshwater get there? With help from NERSC, two researchers may have finally solved this mystery. Read More »


NERSC Contributes to Smithsonian Magazine's Surprising Scientific Milestones of 2012

January 23, 2013

Using NERSC supercomputers, MIT researchers came up with a new approach for desalinating sea water using sheets of graphene, a one-atom-thick form of the element carbon. Smithsonian Magazine named this result the fifth "Surprising Scientific Milestone of 2012. Read More »


NERSC Contributes to Science Magazine's Breakthroughs of the Year

January 14, 2013

Of the top 10 finalists for Science mag's 2012 "Breakthrough of the Year," NERSC provided critical computing and archival support to two accomplishments. Read More »


NERSC Helps Develop Next-Gen Batteries

December 18, 2012

As part of DOE's new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub, NERSC resources will be used to predict the properties of electrolytes. When JCESR is up and running, collaborators will be able to combine these results with the existing Materials Project database to get a complete scope of battery components. Read More »


Modeling Feat Sheds Light on Protein Channel's Function

November 1, 2012

Using supercomputers at NERSC, chemists have simulated the biological function of the Sec translocon, which allows specific proteins to pass through membranes. The feat required bridging timescales from the realm of nanoseconds up to full minutes, exceeding earlier simulation efforts by more than 6 orders of magnitude. Read More »


The Path a Proton Takes Through a Fuel Cell Membrane

October 11, 2012

Experts believe that fuel cells may someday serve as clean energy conversion devices for transportation and other applications, but there are still some design issues that engineers need to sort out before this can happen. One challenge is to develop an inexpensive and robust polymer membrane that effectively conducts protons. In a step toward achieving that goal, researchers are running computer simulations at NERSC to understand how protons move through different polymer membranes. Read More »


Supernovae of the Same Brightness, Cut From Vastly Different Cosmic Cloth

August 23, 2012

Palomar Transient Factory team presented the first-ever direct observations of a Type 1a supernova progenitor system. Astronomers have collected evidence indicating that the system, called PTF 11kx, contains a red giant star. They also show that the system previously underwent at least one much smaller nova eruption before it ended its life in a destructive supernova. The event was initially detected by the PTF Real-Time Detection pipeline at NERSC. Read More »


Haverford College Researchers Create Carbon Dioxide-Separating Polymer

August 1, 2012

Using supercomputers at NERSC, researchers from Haverford College have come up with a new type of two-dimensional polymer, PG-ES1, which allows, in theory, for highly efficient separation of carbon dioxide from the exhausts of power plants. Read More »


New Computer Model Pinpoints Prime Materials for Carbon Capture

July 17, 2012

With help from NERSC's Petascale Initiative and DIRAC, researchers developed computer model to screen solid materials for cost-effectively capturing carbon emissions from fossil fuel-burning power plants. The new model shows that the parasitic energy costs of carbon capture could be reduced by 30 percent with the use of more efficient materials. Read More »


A new approach to water desalination

July 12, 2012

MIT researchers found that graphene sheets with precisely controlled pores have potential to purify water more efficiently than existing methods. Read More »


A new approach to water desalination

July 12, 2012

MIT researchers found that graphene sheets with precisely controlled pores have potential to purify water more efficiently than existing methods. Read More »


Sifting Through a Trillion Electrons

June 26, 2012

Astrophysicists using NERSC's Hopper system generated a 3D trillion-particle magnetic reconnection dataset, where each time-step amounted to a massive 32 terabyte file. With specialized tools developed by Berkeley Lab researchers, the scientists queried the dataset in 3 seconds and visualized it. This is the first-time a dataset of this magnitude has been queried and visualized so quickly. Read More »


Scientists Help Define the Healthy Human Microbiome

June 13, 2012

The human microbiome’s exact function, good and bad, is poorly understood. But, that could all change now that the normal microbial make-up of healthy humans has been mapped for the first time. Read More »


Using NERSC Systems, Physicists Close In on a Rare-Particle Decay Process

June 11, 2012

With help from supercomputers at NERSC, the Enriched Xenon Observatory experiment (EXO-200) has placed the most stringent constraints yet on the nature of a process called neutrinoless double beta decay. In doing so, the physicists have narrowed down the range of possible masses for the neutrino. Read More »


Why Onion-Like Carbons Make High-Energy Supercapacitors

June 1, 2012

The two most important electrical storage technologies are batteries and capacitors. Batteries can store a lot of energy, but have slow charge and discharge rates. Capacitors generally store less energy but have very fast (nearly instant) charge and discharge rates, and last longer than rechargeable batteries. Developing technologies that combine the optimal characteristics of both will require a detailed understanding of how these devices work at the molecular level. And researchers used supercomputers at NERSC to do just that. Read More »


Turning Water into Hydrogen Fuel

May 15, 2012

To do its job, the popular catalyst titanium dioxide often needs an even layer of hydroxyl groups across its surface; thanks to a new method by scientists at PNNL, the catalyst is now getting it. Read More »


Learning From Photosynthesis to Create Electricity

May 15, 2012

Inspired by plants, scientists have created a light-harvesting material that can turn sunlight into chemical energy. However, creating a stable form of the material for large-scale usage has proved difficult. Read More »


New Accelerator Will Study Steps on the Path to Fusion Power

May 10, 2012

The Neutralized Drift Compression Experiment, NDCX-II has recently marked successful completion. Designed with the aid of computer simulations executed at NERSC, the accelerator was created to study warm dense matter, an important research field in itself and particularly relevant to nuclear fusion. NDCX-II will test a variety of technologies in preparation for a new generation of power plants on Earth that will mimic the engines of the stars. Read More »


Floating Robots Track Water Flow, Stream Data via Smartphones

May 9, 2012

To understand how water flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, 100 mobile sensors were placed into the Sacramento River on May 9 to make critical measurements every few seconds. Once collected, this data is transmitted to NERSC for assimilation and analysis. Read More »


New Computer Codes Unlock the Secrets of Cleaner Burning Coal

March 29, 2012

Researchers supported by the Department of Energy are investigating relatively "clean" methods for extracting energy from coal—like gasification. Using NERSC systems, a scientist from the University of Utah has developed tools to model and validate the complex processes of coal gasification Read More »


Researchers Discover a New Kind of Neutrino Transformation

March 8, 2012

Some unprecedentedly precise measurements from the Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment are revealing how electron antineutrinos “oscillate” into different flavors as they travel. This finding may eventually solve the riddle of why there is far more ordinary matter than antimatter in the universe today. Read More »


A Roadmap for Engineering Piezoelectricity in Graphene

February 23, 2012

With the help of supercomputers at the Department of Energy’s NERSC, researchers at Stanford University have uncovered yet another hidden talent of graphene—with a little chemical doping, it can be transformed into a controllable piezoelectric material. This discovery could lead to a wide variety of nanoscale devices from electronics and photonics to chemical sensing and high frequency acoustics. Read More »


New Mathematical Method Reveals Where Genes Switch On or Off

February 22, 2012

Developmental biologists using computing resources at NERSC, have taken a new mathematical method used in signal processing and applied it to biochemistry, using it to reveal the atomic-level details of protein–DNA interactions with unprecedented accuracy. They hope this method, called “compressed sensing,” will speed up research into where genes are turned on and off, and they expect it to have applications in many other scientific domains as well. Read More »


Bubbles Help Break Energy Storage Record for Lithium Air-Batteries

January 25, 2012

Using supercomputers at NERSC and microscopy, a team of researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Princeton University recently built a novel graphene membrane that could produce a lithium-air batter with the highest-energy capacity to date. Read More »


The Great Gas Hydrate Escape

January 25, 2012

For some time, researchers have explored flammable ice for low-carbon or alternative fuel or as a place to store carbon dioxide. Now, a computer analysis of the ice and gas compound, known as a gas hydrate, reveals key details of its structure. This work could enlighten alternative fuel production and carbon dioxide storage. Read More »


Calculating What’s in the Universe from the Biggest Color 3-D Map

January 11, 2012

Using NERSC systems, Berkeley Lab scientists and their Sloan Digital Sky Survey colleagues have produced the biggest 3D color map of the universe ever. The team also achieved the most accurate calculation yet of how matter clumps together – from a time when the universe was only half its present age until now. Read More »


Closest Type Ia Supernova in Decades Solves a Cosmic Mystery

December 14, 2011

Even as the "supernova of a generation" came into view in backyards across the northern hemisphere last August, physicists and astronomers who had caught its earliest moments were developing a surprising and much clearer picture of what happens during a titanic Type Ia explosion. Now they have announced the closest, most detailed look ever at one of the universe’s brightest “standard candles,” the celestial mileposts that led to the discovery of dark energy. Read More »


A Better Way to ID Extreme Weather Events in Climate Models

December 7, 2011

A team of researchers that includes Berkeley Lab scientists are using state-of-the-art methods in data mining and high-performance computing to quantify extreme weather phenomena in the very large datasets generated by today’s climate models. Their work will help scientists predict how climate change impact the frequency of extreme weather events. Read More »


Supercomputers Take a Cue From Microwave Ovens

November 30, 2011

To build the break-through supercomputers that climate researchers need to model clouds, scientists are taking a cue from consumer electronics where everything from chips to batteries to software is optimized to the device’s application. Read More »


Turning Grass into Gas for Less

September 30, 2011

Pull up to the pump these days and chances are your gas will be laced with ethanol, a biofuel made from corn. Corn-ethanol is relatively easy to make, but with growing populations and shrinking farmland, there will never be enough of the starchy food crop to both feed and fuel the world. That’s why researchers are working on “grassoline,” liquid biofuels made from hardy, high yielding, non-food crops, like switchgrass. But what makes these crops indigestible to humans also makes them… Read More »


A Better Lithium-ion Battery on the Way

September 23, 2011

Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere, in smart phones, laptops, an array of other consumer electronics, and the newest electric cars. Good as they are, they could be much better, especially when it comes to lowering the cost and extending the range of electric cars. To do that, batteries need to store a lot more energy. A team of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has designed a new kind of anode — a critical energy-storing… Read More »


Supernova Caught in the Act

August 25, 2011

A supernova discovered yesterday is closer to Earth—approximately 21 million light-years away—than any other of its kind in a generation. Astronomers believe they caught the supernova within hours of its explosion, a rare feat made possible by a specialized survey telescope and state-of-the-art computational tools. The discovery of such a supernova so early and so close has energized the astronomical community as they are scrambling to observe it with as many telescopes as possible,… Read More »


Small Particles, Big Impact

August 24, 2011

High-resolution simulation for Mexico City (top), shows a more detailed and accurate picture of aerosol pollution compared to representations of a global climate model (bottom). The deep red to light green colors represent concentrations of aerosol pollution with red being highest, light green lowest. Using systems at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), atmospheric scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have found that small scale effects… Read More »


Magellan Tackles Mysterious Proton Spin

July 28, 2011

The STAR experiment's detector records the decay of subatomic smash-ups to uncover how the fundamental building blocks of the universe work. What makes a proton spin? That is one of the biggest mysteries in physics.  Although researchers do not fully understand the underlying physics of this phenomenon, they do know that it contributes to the stability of the universe, magnetic interactions, and are a vital component of technologies like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines that are used… Read More »


At Solar System's Edge, There be...Bubbles?

June 9, 2011

This animated computer simulation shows how magnetic bubbles form at the edge of our solar system. It was created on NERSC's "Franklin" supercomputer using 8,192 processor cores simultaneously running for 20 hours. (Credit: James F. Drake) NASA's Voyager probes have reached the end of our solar system where they've found neither giants nor dragons, but something nearly as surprising—a turbulent froth of magnetic bubbles. Using new computer models to analyze Voyager data, scientists computing… Read More »

Petaflops Power to NERSC

May 31, 2011

The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) recently marked a major milestone, putting its first petascale supercomputer into the hands of its 4,000 scientific users. The flagship Cray XE6 system is called “Hopper” in honor of American computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper; it is capable of more than one quadrillion floating point operations per second, or one petaflops, and is currently the second most powerful supercomputer in the United States, according to the TOP500 list. Read More »


NERSC Systems Help Develop Next-Generation Combustion Equipment

May 19, 2011

Robert Cheng demonstrates his low swirl burner in the lab. The housing remains cool to the touch, as shown here. Combustion – the complex chemical process of burning fuels – is a huge driver behind the American economy and standard of living, producing more than 83 percent of our nation’s energy. In addition to fueling power plants, combustion also drives aircraft, ships, locomotives, and trucks and cars (even hybrids). At home, we rely on combustion for heating systems, water heaters,… Read More »


Proton Dripping Tests a Basic Force of Nature

May 9, 2011

Despite its prevalence in nature, researchers are still searching for the precise laws that govern the strong force--the essential "glue" that holds atomic nuclei together to form atoms. However, the recent discovery of an extremely exotic, short-lived nucleus called fluorine-14 in laboratory experiments may indicate that scientists are gaining a better grasp of these rules. Read More »


LED Lighting Comes out of the Dark

April 29, 2011

New findings from simulations carried out at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) have unearthed the cause of a problem that limits the use of ultra-efficient, light-emitting diodes in general lighting, researchers say. Read More »


Heaviest Antimatter Particle Detected with NERSC Help

April 24, 2011

Eighteen examples of the heaviest antiparticle ever found, the nucleus of antihelium-4, have been made in the STAR experiment at RHIC, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. The finding wasn’t unexpected, but it is a milestone for scientists exploring a fundamental puzzle of physics: Why is there any matter at all? Read More »


Boosting the Next Wave of Accelerators

March 29, 2011

Generating computer models of 'tabletop accelerators' has proven difficult, slow, and costly. To solve this problem, a team of scientists computing at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) has perfected a new method that generates models anywhere from 10,000 to a million times faster than before. Read More »


Cyclones Linked to Pliocene Warming

March 21, 2011

Scientists searching for clues to Earth’s future climate are turning to its dim past, the Pliocene epoch. Using computer simulations, researchers are unraveling a mystery that has bedeviled climatologists for years: Why was the Pliocene – under conditions similar to today – so much hotter? Recent work suggests that tropical cyclones (also called hurricanes or typhoons) may have played a crucial role. Read More »


'Dark' Milky Way Satellite Galaxy Uncovered

March 21, 2011

Sukanya Chakrabarti has developed a mathematical method uncover “dark” satellite galaxies. When she applied this method to our own Milky Way, Chakrabarti discovered a faint satellite might be lurking on the opposite side of the galaxy from Earth, approximately 300,000 light-years from the galactic center. Read More »


Modeling the Bonds of Iron and Water

February 28, 2011

Using supercomputers at the Department of Energy's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), scientists have successfully modeled the atomic interactions between a high spin ferric iron ion and 64 water molecules for the first time. Researchers say this unprecedentedly accurate model will offer valuable insights into key reactions involved in carbon sequestration and other environmental remediation projects. Read More »


A Goldilocks Catalyst

February 21, 2011

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion are major contributors to global warming. Since CO2 comes from fuel, why can't we recycle it back into fuel rather than releasing it into the atmosphere? Read More »


Clearer Picture of Carbon Sequestration

January 31, 2011

Berkeley Lab scientists are using computer simulations run at NERSC to help evaluate one method for keeping carbon dioxide emitted by fossil fueled power plants out of the atmosphere: Geologic sequestration in salty water reservoirs deep underground. Researchers have created the most detailed models yet of the mixing processes that occur at the interface of sequestered carbon dioxide (CO 2) and brine in geologic sequestration projects.These simulations—including the first three-dimensional ones—will help scientists better predict the success of this kind of project. Read More »


Climate Time-Machine

January 25, 2011

An international team of climatologists have created a comprehensive reanalysis of all global weather events from 1871 to the present day with help from NERSC. Over the last four years, the project's leader, Gil Compo, has put to use over 20 million processing hours at NERSC to help make it happen. Read More »


Rechargeable Heat Battery's Secret Revealed

January 11, 2011

Researchers computing at NERSC have shown that a fulvalene diruthenium molecule undergoes a structural transformation when it absorbs sunlight, putting the molecule into a higher-energy or charged state where it can remain stable indefinitely. Then, triggered by a small addition of heat or a catalyst, it snaps back to its original shape, releasing heat in the process. Read More »


Berkeley and Princeton Scientists Watch Stars Explode in 3D

September 16, 2010

Researchers from Princeton University and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found a new way to make computer simulations of supernovae exploding in three dimensions. The new simulations are based on the idea that the collapsing star itself is not sphere-like, but distinctly asymmetrical and affected by a host of instabilities in the volatile mix surrounding its core. Read More »


NERSC Helps Shed Light on the Nature of Antimatter

August 31, 2010

Using the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center's (NERSC) Parallel Distributed Systems Facility (PDSF) and the Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), physicists have detected and confirmed the first-ever antimatter hypernucleus, called "antihypertriton." Translated, the newly detected "antihypertriton" means a nucleus of antihydrogen containing one antiproton and one antineutron—plus one heavy relative of the antineutron, an antilambda hyperon. Most of the objects in the cosmos today consists of matter, comprised of "normal" particles like positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons. Read More »

Screen shot 2010 09 14 at 5.04.02 PM

Dancing in the Dark

August 11, 2010

Berkeley Lab scientists have applied x-ray absorption spectroscopy to study a model protein, triglycine – a short chain of three molecules of the simplest amino acid, glycine. By simulating this molecule’s x-ray absorption spectrum the team has show how its chain kinks and straightens in response to ions in solution. Read More »


Taking the 'Large' out of Large Hadron Collider

August 9, 2010

Particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN are the big rock stars of high-energy physics—really big. The LHC cost nearly USD$10 billion to build and its largest particle racetrack (27 km in circumference) stretches across a national border. However, a recent breakthrough in computer modeling may help hasten the day when accelerators thousands of times more powerful can be built in a fraction of the space—and for significantly less money. Read More »


California Is the Primary U.S. Stop for LHC's ALICE Data

July 30, 2010

For approximately one month a year, the nuclei of lead atoms traveling near the speed of light will collide in the Large Hadron Collider's (LHC) ALICE experiment, generating a fireball about 100,000 times hotter than the core of our Sun. At these temperatures protons and neutrons dissolve into a "particle soup" of quarks and gluons, known as the quark-gluon plasma—a state of matter that first occurred in nature at the birth of our Universe almost 14 billion years ago, a few millionths of a second after the Big Bang. By watching this "soup" cool, physicists hope to better understand the nature of matter, which makes up everything from galaxies to humans. Read More »


Simulations Show That "Sweaty" Flowers Cool the World

July 19, 2010

The world is a cooler, wetter place because of transpiring flowers, say University of Chicago researchers who ran more than a million lines of code on the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center's (NERSC's) IBM Power5 "Bassi" system last year. They found that this effect is especially pronounced in the Amazon basin, where 80 percent of ever-wet rainforest area would not exist without flowering plants. These findings were published online on June 16, 2010 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Read More »


Computing Enables New Insights into Generating Power Like the Sun

June 7, 2010

If humans could harness nuclear fusion, the process that powers stars like our sun, the world could have an inexhaustible energy source. But researchers still do not understand the behavior of plasmas well enough to effectively confine them to generate a sustainable flow of energy. NERSC simulations show that that instabilities at the plasma edge can can cause multiple pulses of instability, which damage plasma containment chambers. Read More »


Simulations Reveal Earth's Silica Is Predominantly Superficial

May 24, 2010

Silica is one of the most common minerals on Earth. Not only does it make up two-thirds of our planet's crust, it is also used to create a variety of materials from glass to ceramics, computer chips and fiber optic cables. Yet new quantum mechanics results generated by a team of physicists computing at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) show that this mineral only populates our planet superficially—in other words, silica is relatively uncommon deep within the Earth. Read More »


Bringing Clouds into Focus

May 11, 2010

David Randall, principal investigator for the "Global Cloud Modeling" project that computes at NERSC, is working to clear up uncertainty in global climate models caused by differing methods of accounting for the effects of clouds. He is developing and testing a new kind of global climate model, called a global cloud resolving model (GCRM)—a model that's designed to take advantage of the extreme-scale computers expected in the near future. Read More »


Brace for Impact

April 30, 2010

While the fireworks at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) transfix the world, theorists are quietly doing some computational heavy lifting to help understand what these particle smash-ups might reveal about the fundamental mystery of existence: Why is there anything at all? The Standard Model of particle physics can't explain why there exists more matter than antimatter in the universe. At the LHC and other colliders, scientists sift the debris of high-energy particle collisions searching for clues to physics that lie beyond our current understanding. Read More »


NERSC Users Find That Nanodroplets of Water Can Manipulate Graphene

April 30, 2010

Chemists from the University of Illinois at Chicago using the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center's (NERSC) Cray XT4 supercomputer, called Franklin have found that nanodroplets of water can be used to shape graphene into complex capsules, sandwiches, knots, and rings to serve as the building blocks of nanodevices with unique mechanical, electrical, and optical properties. Read More »


NERSC Helps Locate Jupiter's Missing Neon

April 1, 2010

It's raining helium on Jupiter—and as these droplets fall towards the planet's deeper interior, they are bringing neon down with them. This new result, published in the March 26 issue of Physical Review Letters, solves a 15-year-old mystery that was initiated on December 7, 1995, when NASA's Galileo probe plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere and found only one-ninth the amount of neon that should have been there based on measurements of the Sun's composition. The authors, Burkhard Militzer and Hugh Wilson of the University of California, Berkeley, were able to answer this decade-old question with some supercomputing help from the Department of Energy's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). Read More »


Baby Brutes

March 31, 2010

Astronomers have in recent years been surprised to find hulking brutes among the baby galaxies of the early Universe. Studded with bright, giant clumps of rapidly forming stars, these big galaxies hail from a time when the cosmos was less than 4 billion years old, yet each contains about the mass of a modern Milky Way, which took 10 billion years to form. Once considered oddities, these galaxies are now thought to be the engines that drove the Universe's most active period of star formation. It remains a mystery, however, how such massive galaxies came to be so quickly and what has happened to them in our modern Universe. Read More »


A Computational Science Approach for Analyzing Culture

February 18, 2010

Just as photography revolutionized the study of art by allowing millions of people all over the world to scrutinize sculptures and paintings outside of museums, researchers from the Software Studies Initiative at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) believe that a new paradigm called cultural analytics will drastically change the study of culture by allowing people to quantify evolving trends across time and countries. Read More »

Mismatched alloys are a good match for thermoelectrics

January 25, 2010

Employing some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have shown that mismatched alloys are a good match for the future development of high performance thermoelectric devices. Thermoelectrics hold enormous potential for green energy production because of their ability to convert heat into electricity. Computations performed on “Franklin,” a Cray XT4 massively parallel processing system operated by the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), showed that the introduction of oxygen impurities into a unique class of semiconductors known as highly mismatched alloys (HMAs) can substantially enhance the thermoelectric performance of these materials without the customary degradation in electric conductivity. Read More »


NERSC Helps Researchers Discover a Potential On-Off Switch for Nanoelectronics

December 22, 2009

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (Berkeley Lab) Molecular Foundry and Columbia University found that electrical resistance through a molecular junction—a nanometer scale circuit element consisting of a single molecule contacted with gold wires—can be turned on and off by simply pushing and pulling the junction. Experts believe that this newly demonstrated molecular-scale control could be leveraged for future nanoscale electronic devices. Read More »


NERSC Continues Tradition of Cosmic Microwave Background Data Analysis with the Planck Cluster

October 30, 2009

More than 95 percent of our universe is made up of mysteriously "dark" materials—approximately 22 percent of it is comprised of invisible dark matter, while another 73 percent is posited to be dark energy, the force that is accelerating universal expansion. Armed with a new spacecraft called Planck and supercomputers at the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), astronomers around the world hope to make tremendous strides toward illuminating the nature and origins of these mystifying materials by creating high-resolution maps of extremely subtle variations in the temperature and polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), which is leftover light from the Big Bang that permeates the universe. Read More »


It's Not Too Late to Change Global Warming's Course

October 27, 2009

The threat of global warming can still be greatly diminished if nations cut emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 70 percent this century, according to a study led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). While global temperatures would rise, the most dangerous potential aspects of climate change, including massive losses of Arctic sea ice and permafrost and significant sea level rise, could be partially avoided. Read More »

Lasers without Mirrors, Designed by Supercomputer

October 14, 2009

Sometimes it takes a big machine to understand the tiniest details. That’s the case with free electron lasers (FELs). FELs have the potential to address a host of research challenges in physics, chemistry and material and biological sciences. Read More »


NERSC Contributes to EMGeo Mapping Software for Finding Hidden Oil and Gas Reserves

September 30, 2009

As the world's demand for energy increases, billions of dollars are dedicated to the search for deep-water hydrocarbon reservoirs each year. Although seismic imaging methods have long been used to collect valuable information on geological structures bearing hydrocarbon deposits, they have not proven effective in discriminating different types of reservoir fluids, such as brines, oil, and gas. Because of this inability to discriminate, over time huge financial losses result from drilling dry holes—up to 100 million dollars per each unsuccessful drilling. Meanwhile significant hydrocarbon reservoirs remain undiscovered. Read More »


NERSC Helps Discover Cosmic Transients

June 15, 2009

An innovative new sky survey, called the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF), will utilize the unique tools and services offered by the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) to expose relatively rare and fleeting cosmic events, like supernovae and gamma ray bursts. Read More »


Visualizing the Future of Scientific Discovery

June 11, 2009

As computational scientists are confronted with increasingly massive datasets from supercomputing simulations and experiments, one of the biggest challenges is having the right tools to gain scientific insight from the data. A team of Department of Energy (DOE) researchers recently ran a series of experiments to determine whether VisIt, a leading scientific visualization application, is up to the challenge. Running on some of the world's most powerful supercomputers, VisIt achieved… Read More »


NERSC and CRD Help Decipher Science from Compact Accelerator Simulations

May 26, 2009

Scientists use many different tools to understand the universe. While telescopes offer valuable insights about interactions between stars, planets and galaxies; particle accelerators give researchers a better understanding of the basic particles that make up these structures, as well as the fields and forces that hold them together. The bigger the accelerator, the more energy subatomic particles can pick up, which leads to higher-intensity impacts that expose ever more basic particles, fields and forces. However, bigger is also costlier, and scientists worry that accelerators built with today's technology may simply be unaffordable. Read More »


Deep Sky Project Provides a Portal into Data Universe

March 30, 2009

Every night approximately 3,000 astronomical files flow to the National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center from automated sky scanning systems all over the world for archiving. After a decade of collecting, the center currently holds over 8 million images, making this one of the largest troves of ground-based celestial images available. Now, a multidisciplinary team of astronomers, computer scientists, and engineers from NERSC are collaborating to develop a user-friendly database system and interface to instantly serve up high-resolution cosmic reference images to astronomers around the globe. Read More »

Humanities and High Performance Computers Connect at NERSC

December 28, 2008

High performance computing and the humanities are finally connecting — with a little matchmaking help from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Both organizations have teamed up to create the Humanities High Performance Computing Program, a one-of-a-kind initiative that gives humanities researchers access to some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Read More »


A Rising Tide of Cosmic Data

December 10, 2008

In 1998 the balloon-borne BOOMERANG and MAXIMA experiments made what were then the highest-resolution measurements of minute variations in the temperature of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB). Their high resolution was achieved by scanning small patches of the sky to gather unprecedented volumes of data. The analysis of these datasets presented a significant computational challenge – they were the first CMB datasets to require supercomputing resources. Read More »


IMPACTS: On the Threshold of Abrupt Climate Changes

September 17, 2008

Abrupt climate change is a potential menace that hasn’t received much attention. That’s about to change. Through its Climate Change Prediction Program, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research (OBER) recently launched IMPACTS – Investigation of the Magnitudes and Probabilities of Abrupt Climate Transitions – a program led by William Collins of Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division (ESD) that brings together six national laboratories to attack the problem of abrupt climate change, or ACC. Read More »

Visualizing the unseen forces of turbulence

September 16, 2008

Its invisible eddies and vortexes can dramatically alter the flight of everything from golf balls to hypersonic jets. Grasping the vast power of turbulence could help researchers design better weather forecasts, more efficient cars, quieter helicopters and even faster ships that “float” through the high seas on a cushion of air. Read More »

A Computer for the Clouds

August 1, 2008

A proposed supercomputer would do just one job--model global climate--but consume far less electricity than a general-purpose machine. Read More »