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[Sandia Lab News]

Vol. 56, No. 9           April 30, 2004
[Sandia National Laboratories]

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-0165    ||   Livermore, California 94550-0969
Tonopah, Nevada; Nevada Test Site; Amarillo, Texas

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Joint Computational Engineering Lab (JCEL) up and running Sandia tests conventional weapon created to penetrate hardened, buried targets The gold standard: Self-assembly process forms durable nanocrystal arrays, independent nanocrystals

Joint Computational Engineering Lab (JCEL) up and running

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By Will Keener

Sandia's new Joint Computational Engineering Lab -- JCEL for short -- was scheduled for an official dedication with Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham Wednesday (April 28). But employees didn't wait for him to cut the ribbon. Much of the building is up and running.

Funded to the tune of $30.8 million by Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) -- a program within NNSA -- JCEL is home to 175 people in 61,200 square feet of space. It offers innovative secure office clusters, two major computer systems, and state-of-the-art collaborative meeting and visualization rooms.

In short, the newest addition to Area 1 is a long ways from the light labs and offices of Sandia's past. It meets higher standards for safety, security, and environmental friendliness. And it provides people-friendly spaces designed to attract high-quality new employees to the Labs.

"The building design provides opportunities to marry many different processes at Sandia that will need to be used to revolutionize engineering design," says Tom Bickel, Director of Engineering Sciences Center 9100. "Design-through-analysis is being prototyped within JCEL." This design initiative was fundamental to determining who would work in JCEL, says Tom. Key building occupants are Engineering Sciences Center 9100; Computation, Computers, Information, and Mathematics Center 9200; and Stockpile Resource Center 2900.

"This building marks a milepost along the way to achieving the ASC vision for predictive simulation," says Mike Vahle, Director for the Advanced Product Realization Program (9900). "It enables computer scientists, engineers and designers to interact on a daily basis to apply modeling and simulation to weapons systems."

Staff members began moving into JCEL -- numerically Bldg. 899 -- in March, as Hensel Phelps completed construction.

JCEL is a "sister facility" to the Distributed Information Systems Laboratory (DISL), under construction at Sandia's California site. With DISL (expected to be online this year) and JCEL, Sandia takes a giant step toward enhanced design and weapon manufacturing, making use of visualization and collaborative technologies that will provide high-security links throughout the DOE weapons complex.

High-tech facade

JCEL is metal, concrete, and turquoise-tinted glass. Its design, by Benham Companies architects and engineers, combines three towers of offices, with an elliptical front space, housing the computers, visualization rooms, and other common facilities. Glassed-in stairwells flank the east and west ends of the building.

Metal panels and canopied walkways give the building a high-tech fašade. Passive solar panel sun shades along a south-facing window wall incorporate an energy conservation system that will provide power directly to the building. It has more than good looks, designers point out. JCEL is the first Sandia building to be rated under a national program to evaluate the sustainability and environmental friendliness of a structure. (See "Green" on next page.)

Adherence to Sandia's Architectural Surety standards and to IBC 2000, a newly adopted international building code, also defines JCEL. The surety standards address possible terrorist attacks, including blasts and security system compromises. The building code features increased requirements for seismic events, wind loading, and blast damage mitigation. Cast-in-place concrete walls of the three towers provide structural strength to prevent the kind of collapse seen in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Main floor features in JCEL include an advanced conference room with large screens for image projection, automatic window shades and other amenities. The floor also houses two large computer spaces, one for "Renegade," a classified system, and another for "Rogue," its unclassified counterpart. There is also an impressive visualization room with a 24-projector rear screen projection system focusing on an 18-foot by 10-foot glass screen. The visualization room, one of two in the facility, includes conference desk plug-ins for power, phone, and Internet. This allows conferees to project images from laptops onto the large screen during discussions.

Common themes in the building include: wall-sized white boards and automatic shades for conference rooms; conversation niches with tables and chairs incorporated along hallways and in otherwise unused spaces; color coding in floors to help employees and visitors orient themselves; raised flooring for ventilation, power, and high-flexibility in room layouts; natural light in hallways and offices; and unique office clusters.

Need-to-know suites

Many of JCEL's new tenants have occupied windowless offices in buildings noted largely for their long corridors, says Dave Corbett, Director of Facilities Management and Operations Center 10800. "JCEL's architectural features were designed with light in mind." Northside towers incorporate windows into the offices, and the towers are joined by glass curtained hallways and stairwells, he notes.

The "need-to-know" office clusters open onto the hallway through a single entrance for security. Individual offices include fiber optic drop boxes with both classified and unclassified connections, part of a 60-mile maze of fiber optic cable in the building.

The cable maze provides the communications link for the building's world-class 10 gigabit network, says JCEL Program manager John Zepper (9324).

"Engineering sciences and computing sciences have been working together for many years toward the vision of transforming engineering, at Sandia and more broadly, through predictive computational simulations," says Bill Camp (9200). "That's a huge challenge -- one that requires much more than just technical breakthroughs. We also have to learn to integrate the activities of our organizations more consistently and deeply than in the past."

Several years ago the organizations established the Strategic Computing Office on the west aisle in Bldg. 880 to improve interactions. "JCEL has allowed us to take that integration to a new level," says Bill, who will share an office suite with Tom Bickel.

It's important to note the Stockpile Resource Center role as well, says Rob Leland, Manager of Computer and Software Systems Group 9220. "These three organizations share primary responsibility at the New Mexico site for the Design Through Analysis program." JCEL is integrally linked to the Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Application (MESA) efforts. "In JCEL, we are prototyping some of the themes and relationships that will prove critical in MESA," Rob says.

Right people, right time

Jim Dawson, who managed the 17-month construction for Corporate Projects Dept. 10824, encountered more than a few challenges in designing and constructing the unique building. "The thing that strikes me as impressive about this project was the cooperation between the design and engineering teams and the construction contractors," says Jim. "The right people came together at the right time to make the right decisions."

The contract was awarded in July 2002, but early work encountered delays due to a variety of problems, including the location of underground utilities, tie in to existing water lines, and even the weather. Despite 30 "pot holes" to help accurately locate underground utilities, workers found some surprises when building began.

JCEL is structurally unique compared to other Sandia office-light labs, due in part to the 121 piers, ranging in diameter from 18 to 36 inches and reaching 35 feet into the ground. A lattice of concrete beams connects the piers at various angles and elevations throughout the first floor. "The main building structure is cast-in-place concrete and structural steel framing," says Jim. With the complexity of angles in the structure, nearly every concrete-to-steel connection in the part of the building south of the towers had to be separately detailed by the steel supplier, Jim says.

High winds in spring 2003 cost a cumulative three weeks of lost construction time, says Jim, more time than most standard contracts anticipate for bad weather. With crane and steel operations under way, it was unfortunate timing. General contractor Hensel Phelps worked hard to return to schedule, starting some work earlier than planned and working other tasks in parallel with additional crews.

For example, the Sandia team worked closely with the construction contractor to achieve early completion of the two large computer rooms and the first-floor visualization lab. This expedited installation of equipment, which began last November, two months prior to building completion. Construction of the stair towers at the east and west ends of the building, with concrete, steel, and a "curtain wall" of aluminum-framed windows, proved slower than predicted, but an early start helped compensate. Problems with fabrication of the exterior metal panels and a missing section of structural detail on the south side of the roofline sent team members scrambling as well.

Efforts of the contractor to accommodate the plans for equipping and occupying the building mean that the overall project is on schedule and should be completed later this year, says Jim. -- Will Keener

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Sandia tests conventional weapon created to penetrate hardened, buried targets

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By Michael Padilla

Sandia engineers have successfully tested a new conventional weapon (non-nuclear) that provides US forces a way to penetrate hard, buried targets such as weapons storage bunkers and command/control facilities.

Tactical Missile System-Penetrator (TACMS-P), an accelerated three-year project, integrates an Army TACMS booster developed by Lockheed Martin with a Navy Strategic Systems Program (SSP) maneuvering reentry vehicle that was designed, developed, and tested by Sandia.

Sandia was chosen to build the integrated Earth Penetrating Warhead (EPW) based on the Labs' proven expertise in high-speed flight system design, precision navigation, guidance, control capabilities, and penetrator technology, says David Keese (15404), Deputy Director of Aerospace Systems Development Center 15400.

"This represents a great accomplishment for the Labs and the nation," says David. "It demonstrates the feasibility of the first high-speed, precision-guided EPW delivered from a deployed tactical missile system."

Sandia and Lockheed Martin conducted the flight test of TACMS-P on March 11 at White Sands Missile Range.

The test was conducted under a joint Army- Navy Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).

TACMS-P performed as expected, demonstrating integration of the Sandia warhead with the modified Army TACMS missile as well as meeting specific range, accuracy, and penetration objectives.

The TACMS-P was fired from a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) M270A1 launcher at Launch Complex 33, and flew to a pre-determined altitude and speed to separate the EPW from the booster.

After separation, the booster locked its fins and continued on a ballistic path while the EPW used its movable fins to guide it to a fixed, hard target using a navigation, guidance, and control system developed at Sandia.

The inert penetrator used for this flight test was recovered from the target structure to assess overall weapon performance.

Eric Schindwolf (15425), project department manager, says the project encompassed a body of innovative research and development that led up to the successful test.

"This was symbolic for the Labs," he says. "Various integrated system design activities enabled the success of the test. This is the type of program that energizes the imaginations of the participants and moves them to do great things. It was quite evident in the result."

The memorandum of understanding between the DOE and the Department of Defense provided valuable research and development for three key areas of the project, says David. These included the penetrator case design, fuze technology development, and high explosive fill. All of these penetrator elements must withstand the very harsh, high-deceleration environments encountered during target impact, he says. During penetration the fuze must function and begin a critical chain of events that ultimately results in the detonation of the warhead.

After the first test, the Sandia team is already preparing for subsequent missions.

Additional flight tests are planned for summer and late fall, and several additional residual weapons will be delivered to the government.

The ultimate goal is to have TACMS-P ready for industry to produce the system for military use, says David.

John Hill, Naval Surface Warfare Center, says the Navy is extremely happy with the successful flight. "Our primary objective was accuracy, and we met that beyond our expectations," he says.

Thomas Floyd, Army Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems, says the next flight test will look at other aspects of the project. "We will continue the path forward in assuring the best product," he says.

The ATACMS family of munitions includes the ATACMS Block I, Block IA, and the Block IA Unitary. The ATACMS Block IA Unitary was successfully used for the first time during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In February, Lockheed Martin received a contract to produce ATACMS Block IA Unitary missiles for the Army.

"The team consists of a variety of personnel from centers throughout the Labs," says Bill Guyton, Director of Aerospace Systems Development Center 15400. "This includes scientists, engineers, researchers, and administration."

The following organizations participated in the project: 1800, 2300, 2500, 2600, 2900, 3100, 9100, 12300, 14100, and 15400. -- Michael Padilla

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The gold standard: Self-assembly process forms durable nanocrystal arrays, independent nanocrystals

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By Neal Singer

A wish list for nanotechnologists might consist of a simple, inexpensive means -- actually, any means at all -- of self-assembling nanocrystals into robust orderly arrangements, like soup cans on a shelf or bricks in a wall, each separated from the next by an insulating layer of silicon dioxide.

The silica casing could be linked to compatible semiconductor devices. The trapped nanocrystals might function as a lasing medium, their frequency dependent on their size, or as a very fine catalyst with unusually large surface area, or perhaps a memory device tunable by particle size and composition.

Tracking hostile cells

Or perhaps the technologist might want to stop nanocrystals from clumping. Agglomeration prevents them from being used as light-emitting tagging mechanisms to locate cancer cells in the body and from being used in light-emitting devices needed for solid state lighting.

In the April 23 Science, Sandia and University of New Mexico researchers report a simple, commercially feasible method for doing both these things.

"The paper overcomes barriers to using nanocrystals routinely," says Jeff Brinker, Sandia Fellow and UNM chemical engineering professor, who with Hongyou Fan (1846) led the self-assembling effort. "The question in nano- technology isn't 'where's the beef,' it's 'where're the connectors'? How does one make connections from the macroscale to the nanoscale? This question lies at the heart of nanotechnology."

It is, Brinker says, "the raison d'etre for CINT." (CINT is the Sandia/

Los Alamos joint Center for Integrated Nanotechologies, now under


Bridging huge gaps in scale

The self-assembly approach developed by the Sandia/UNM team allows nanocrystal arrays to be integrated into devices using standard microelectronic processing techniques, bridging huge gaps in scale.

IBM staff researcher Chuck Black at T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., praises the research. "One thing that's nice is that these materials are hard materials. Often they come with an organic surfactant layer that makes it difficult to process materials, like a kind of grease. This material is embedded in oxide. It sounds like a neat thing and a new approach." The Sandia/UNM method scrubs away the surfactants.

Biolabeling, biosensing

"Also, quantum dots [another term for nanocrystals] can be important for biolabeling and biosensing," says Hongyou, who is the paper's lead author and who initiated the effort to use the nanocrystals for those purposes. "The beauty of our approach is that it makes these quantum dots both water-soluble and biocompatible, two essential qualities if we want to use them for in vivo imaging. The functional organic groups on the quantum dots can link with a variety of peptides, proteins, DNA, antibodies, etc. so that the dots can bind to and help locate targets like cancer cells, a critical issue in biomedicine."

Sandia has applied for a patent on this approach, which should aid attempts at several major universities to identify individual cancer cells before they increase in number.

Researchers have found that in the nanoscopic realm, changing merely the size of a material changes the frequency it emits when "pumped" by outside energy; so, quantum dots of particular sizes and material will emit at predictable frequencies, which makes them useful adjuncts when bound to molecules created to bind to particular cancer molecules.

How it works

The process uses a simple surfactant (similar to dishwashing soap) to surround the nanocrystals -- in this case, made of gold -- to make them water-soluble. Further processing involving silica causes the gold nanocrystals to arrange themselves within a silica matrix in a lattice -- a kind of artificial solid with properties that can be adjusted through control of nanocrystal composition, diameter, properties of the surfactant, or stabilizing ligands used in formation of the water soluble nanocrystals.

The robust 3-D solids, which are stable indefinitely, demonstrate the incorporation of nanocrystalline arrays into device architectures.

Relief for physicists

A further use allows physicists to go beyond modeling to determine how current scales with voltage in nanodevices. "Before," says Jeff, "there was no way to make precisely ordered 3-D nanocrystalline solids, integrate them in devices, and characterize their behavior. There was no theoretical model. How does the current decide which way to hop between crystals?"

The new material can be used as an artificial solid to test theories. "It should be a dream for physicists; they don't just have to model anymore," says Jeff.

A kind of choreographed transmission possibility exists with the so-called "coulomb blockade," he says: No current is passed at low voltages because each crystal is separated by a thin (several nanometer thick) layer of silica dioxide, creating an insulator between the stored charges. Each nanocrystal charges separately. "This could be configured into a flash memory," he says, "with a huge number of charges stored in an array of nodes."

Researchers at UNM's Center for High Technology Materials performed experiments to establish the current/voltage scaling characteristics of the gold/silica arrays as a function of temperature. Sandia researcher Tim Boyle (1846) made and provided nanocrystal semiconductor (cadmium selinide) quantum dots. -- Neal Singer

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Last modified: May 5, 2004

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