Season Schedule

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September 2018

Technology in Emergency Medical Services

Byron Piatt, University of New Mexico Emergency Manager


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September 2018

Gravitational waves and the Kilonova Explosion

Nicole Lloyd-Ronning, Los Alamos National Laboratory


Presenter's Essay and Bio

Presenter's Essay

On September 14, 2015, a new window to the universe was opened. Scientists detected gravitational waves - ripples in spacetime - from two massive black holes colliding. Before their collision, the black holes were spiraling around each other - bound by their mutual gravitational pull - like two ice skaters grasping hands, spinning round and round in circles. As the black holes danced, they warped and rippled space around them and lost energy. This caused them to spiral ever closer until they finally collided. This collision caused a distinct and powerful warp in spacetime - ripples called gravitational waves - that traveled across the universe until they reached our detectors on Earth. For that moment when the ripples passed by, space shrunk and then stretched a little bit until the wave went on its way. This stretching and shrinking of the fabric of space itself was measured by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana.

Almost 2 years later, on Aug. 17, 2018, another phenomenal gravitational wave event occurred. This time it wasn’t two black holes colliding (by now, LIGO had seen around 10 or so of these types of events occur in different parts of the universe), but instead two neutron stars smashed together. Neutron stars are the extremely dense remnants left behind after massive stars die an explosive death. These tiny stars are only about the size of Santa Fe, but are more massive than the sun (that means 1 teaspoon of neutron star weighs as much as 100 trillion elephants). When these two stars collided, they not only rippled space and sent gravitational waves across the universe, but also emitted a bright flash of light called a kilonova, and shot out a jet of high energy radiation called a gamma-ray burst. From these additional light signals, we learned so much! For example, astrophysicists have been wondering for decades where elements heavier than iron came from (it’s very hard for nature to make these big atoms). By looking at the light from the kilonova, we got direct evidence that heavy elements are made when two neutron stars collide. That means the gold in your earrings or the platinum in your car’s catalytic converter were made in events just like this one.

The combination of detecting gravitational waves and electromagnetic radiation (light) from an object in space is called “multi-messenger astronomy” and you are witnessing its beginning. By trying to understand the combination of this information - gravitational waves, light, and other radiation - we can learn so much more about these types of merger events, about our universe, and about fundamental physics itself. We are at the dawn of a new era in our ability to make sense of our universe!

About the Presenter

Nicole Lloyd-Ronning

When I was about four years old, I decided I really wanted to be astronaut. This was partly because I thought it sounded ridiculously fun to ride in a rocket ship to the moon, but mostly because I was blown away by the night sky and wanted to find out what was up there. I thought I had to physically go into space to do this.

Without really knowing what it meant, I held on to this dream throughout my childhood. I had a nomadic life, moving on average every two years, migrating from Texas to Germany to California, back to Germany (including moves within Germany), Kansas, Virginia, and finally finishing up my last few years of high school in beautiful Hawaii! This lifestyle and my parents’ sense of adventure nurtured my desire to explore and made me want to seek out places, people, cultures, and ideas that weren’t familiar.

By high school, the dream of being an astronaut was as alive as it was when I was four. I simply assumed I’d become a shuttle pilot and that would be my ticket to space. But during my sophomore year in high school, I learned that my vision would not meet the physical requirements and a shuttle pilot job was out. OK, fine. Having no clue what it meant or what I was talking about, I decided I’d have to get a Ph.D. in physics in order to become an astronaut. I didn’t really even know what physics was, but that became my new completely non-thought out plan about how to get to space. Luckily, thanks to some really awesome teachers, it turned out I really loved my physics and math classes. I loved that both subjects gave me tools to describe and understand how nature works. I loved the lack of subjectivity, that there was a right and a wrong that was not based on a person’s opinion. And I really loved that there were (are!) many different ways to arrive at the same final answer. I decided I’d go to college and major in physics and astronomy.

I applied to schools around the country that were supposed to be good in these fields. My public high school was not known for academics: there were much bigger concerns involving the general well-being and safety of the students. But all it took was a couple of wonderful and encouraging teachers who helped guide me toward the path I wanted to be on. On a last minute whim, at the request of our school’s college counselor, I ended up applying to Cornell University to major in physics.

I was very afraid and averse to being at Cornell: the stereotype of an Ivy League preppy person was not me at all!. What’s more, I knew I had to pay my own tuition and didn’t think I could afford it. Since age 9, I had been working any job I could get, usually babysitting at the crazy rate of $1/hour, bussing tables, and waitressing to save up for college. Funnily enough, thanks to various types of financial aid and scholarships, Cornell ended up being the most affordable school for me and I ended up going there. I couldn’t have been happier - despite the cold, gray weather of upstate New York, the challenging classes and the fantastic professors gave me an excellent foundation in physics and astronomy and prepared me well for the next step on my journey. I went to Stanford for a Ph.D. in physics, focusing on high energy astrophysics and gamma-ray bursts, the violent, explosive deaths of massive stars.

I then headed to the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto as a postdoctoral fellow, and then to Los Alamos in 2003 to do a second postdoc. About a year into this position, expecting my second child, I made the decision to stay home full time with my kids (I now have three). During my time at home, I kept up with the current research in the field (mostly by reading research papers published in academic journals) and stayed in touch with former colleagues in my field. In the last couple of years, thanks to my former postdoc advisor at LANL as well as a generous fellowship from the American Physical Society, I’ve been able to come back to research at the lab and have picked up working on many different and exciting aspects of the deaths of the most massive stars. I also lead a class through UNM-LA’s Community Education program on modern astrophysics that is open to anyone and everyone interested in space regardless of science or math background (and hopefully some of you will join!).

Besides astrophysics, I love to hang out with my family, run, swim, play water polo (or pretty much any sport), cook, and most definitely eat. I haven’t yet physically made it to space (although I still aspire to that), but I feel lucky that I’ve gotten to pursue the dream that inspired me to want to be an astronaut to begin with: to learn about what is up there in that beautiful night sky and how it all works...

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September 2018

Magical Mathematics: The mathematical ideas that animate great magic tricks

Steve Cox


Presenter's Essay and Bio

Presenter's Essay

Math and Science intersect along patterns, or symmetries, inherent in our world. It can take years of training to learn to "see" these patterns. The best card tricks rely on patterns that persist in seemingly random arrangements. We will explore this intersection by revealing the mathematics behind three compelling feats of magic.

About the Presenter

Steve Cox

Grew up in Chicago, became interested in Engineering while working as a draftsman for the Chicago Power Company in High School. Received Bachelors and Masters degrees in Engineering then a PhD in Mathematics. Taught math and engineering at Rice University and neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine for over 20 years. Moved to Espanola Valley in early 2016.

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October 2018

Math Circles

James Taylor


Presenter's Essay and Bio

Presenter's Essay

I’ll be posing a problem. It might not even look like mathematics, and not much of what you already know about math may help you, so no worries! We’ll all puzzle our way through it, and in the process you’ll discover problem-solving techniques that will help you with all sorts of problems in the future. Not sure you’re crazy about math? Then you should come for sure!

I think I will do a problem about a party. Then again, I’m not always absolutely sure what I’ll pose until I meet students at the Café. At one 2017-18 Café Scientifique I did what appeared to be mind-reading.

About the Presenter

James Taylor

My first loves were space and astronomy. Starting in first grade, I was fascinated by outer space and the space program. It was the 1960s, and people were going into space, and the eventually to the moon. Probes were being sent to Mars and Venus. And beyond. My second grade classroom had (along with my favorite teacher, Miss Guzé) a library nook in it, filled with books and several different encyclopedias. I browsed all could find about the planets and the stars in them, jumping from topic to topic as today one might follow hyperlinks on web pages. This led to my reading a lot of science fiction, much of which held the mathematician and scientist in high regard. I made telescopes and took photos using it and took courses at our local planetarium in 6th grade. That year in school, my math teacher was Mr. “Fred” (Frederickson) who had us adopt a mathematician from history. I was Eratosthenes (over 2000 years ago he calculated the earth’s circumference accurately). We had slide rule races in his class (there were no pocket calculators).

Still, while math was easy enough for me in school, I did not really find it satisfying. Once I encountered math as it appeared in Russian problems books, the writing of Martin Gardner in Scientific American magazine, and eventually in George Pólya’s books on problem solving, things changed. I found that math could be quite playful and that there were many different ways to solve problems. When I was an undergraduate majoring in mathematics, I took a sophomore problem solving elective with a fun math professor—where I learned that math involved conversation and give-and-take between the professor and class and between students. The class showed me that math was not quite what I had thought. And I started my path to what I try to be today—a math education subversive. And I’m still friends with one of my former math professors, now 90 years old, and we sit and chat about mathematics once a week.

Around 2003, I discovered math circles. Math circles are a perfect match for showing people what a joy mathematics can be—and they look quite different than “school math”. Math circles began in the former Soviet Union and eastern bloc. The idea began with mathematicians posing cool problems to K-12 grade students, and transmitting their passion and depth of knowledge to their students. In the late 1990s math circles came to the United States, brought by some of my colleagues who grew up in Kazakhstan and Bulgaria. We now have circles all over the world, and they continue to grow. In the US we created math teachers’ circles, so that teachers could enjoy the same puzzles as our students do.

A math circle might focus on what not only looks like a game, it is a game! For example, we might begin with a pile of candy, and distribute it in some way among five people at a table. Then we would have them share the candy in some regular pattern several different ways, with each new way helping them to discover something about the significance of the number of candies and candy sharers across the system.

Professionally, I’ve been a theatrical lighting and set designer, a research lab tech in the oil well service industry, a computer programmer, modeler, and database developer, a computer network administrator, a math and computer science teacher and department head, and since my “retirement” three years ago from teaching—a roving mathematics teacher. I have taught students in grades 4-12, teachers, and workshops at various colleges and the Santa Fe Institute. Almost all of it has been a lot of fun. My work takes me all over northern New Mexico (the Española Valley, Dixon, Las Vegas, Farmington, Mesa Vista, White Rock, Santa Fe, and Taos), and the Navajo Nation in eastern Arizona and southeastern Utah. One of my retirement goals was to finally learn to play a musical instrument, so I over the past few three years I can play passably on the mountain dulcimer.

I want everyone to realize that mathematics is not what they think it is (and that is usually endless algorithms/methods and exercises—ick!). It is an endless game that everyone can play. And I just love watching folks wake up to this joy!

As for the rest of the time, along with playing the dulcimer, I love to hike, do yoga, read, and cook (especially Indian and Italian). During the 1980s I did lighting and set design for the Santa Fe Playhouse (then the Santa Fe Community Theater) and even acted in the Fiesta Melodrama, playing the mayor of Santa Fe, “Ford Pickup” (I had daughters Chevy and Dodge).

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October 2018

Quantum Dots: Reshaping how we use color and light

Hunter McDaniel, Aaron Jackson, Matt Bergren, UbiQD, Inc.


Presenter's Essay and Bio

Presenter's Essay

Urban areas consume 70% of global energy and are projected to house approximately 60% of the earth’s population by 2030.1 Coupling this high demand with the high price for electricity in cities illustrates the need for local energy generation in urban areas. However, the space needed to use traditional renewable technologies, such as wind or solar, is minimal in urban areas and therefore is a barrier for widespread adoption. One solution is to incorporate renewable energy production into the façade of the building, for example with building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) such as solar harvesting windows.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), UbiQD, Inc., is developing a BIPV technology that harvests sunlight from windows using quantum dots (QDs) in order to generate electricity. Their technology, called luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs, see Fig. 1), takes advantage of the unique optical properties of their cadmium-free CuInS2/ZnS QDs to effectively absorb sunlight and convert it to near-infrared (NIR) light. That light is then trapped, concentrated, and guided through the glass, via total internal reflection, to small solar cells embedded in the frame of the window. The advantages of this technology over other emerging sunlight-harvesting window solutions, like organic photovoltaics, are UbiQD’s LSC technology will be compatible with current window manufacturing processes (dropin additive to polymer interlayer used in laminated glass), is less expensive to manufacture, and has superior aesthetics (no lines, no haze, neutral color).

The LSC concept, which has been around for 40 years,2 is a simple cost-effective way to generate electricity from transparent surfaces while maintaining transparency. However, previous efforts to develop and commercialize LSCs failed due to the lack of a suitable fluorescent material with appropriate absorption/emission spectra. Quantum dots have long been considered to be an ideal fluorophore for this application due to their size-tunable emission, but traditional QDs, tend to have a strong overlap between their emission and absorption spectra, which prevents longdistance light-guiding and limits performance for large windows. Furthermore, no high-efficiency, color-neutral NIR fluorophores existed, resulting in sub-par performance and unacceptable aesthetics. UbiQD’s breakthrough is their proprietary methods for low-cost manufacturing of stable, high performance (with ~100% quantum efficiency in the NIR) and non-hazardous CuInS2/ZnS QDs, which have an intrinsic separation of their absorption and emission that enables large-area and high-performance LSCs.

Earlier this year UbiQD reported a record certified performance for any solar window of 29 W/m2 (approximately 3% efficiency) with 60% visible light transmittance (VLT).3 In collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, UbiQD recently modeled the energy production of this technology if it were installed on skyscrapers. As an example, assuming a target performance of 5% efficiency at 50% VLT, the Four Seasons Hotel built in 2003 in Miami, FL, which has 85 stories and ~80% of the façade is windows, if equipped with this technology would generate ~1.4 GWh. This would be enough energy to provide electricity for over 300 apartments4 and would equate to a cost savings of ~$170k/year for the building owner.

UbiQD is now focused on scale-up of QD manufacturing, and optimizing LSCs for industrial window fabrication. The company is currently manufacturing enough QDs per batch/day to coat >80 m2 of LSC windows and plans to scale that to 1,000 m2/day capacity and launch the first pilot projects by the end of 2019. Once successful, the cities of the future will be powered by UbiQD’s QD LSCs and the next industrial revolution will be powered by low-cost renewable energy.

About the Presenters

UbiQD Inc. is a cleantech nanomaterials company spun out of Los Alamos National Laboratory, M.I.T., University of Washington, and Western Washington University that manufactures quantum dots and nanocomposite materials in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The company’s high-performance quantum dot materials are particularly attractive due to their bright and strongly size-tunable color of photoluminescence. Enabled by a proprietary QD manufacturing processes, UbiQD is rapidly realizing their vision of becoming the largest worldwide manufacturer of QDs. This vision is being realized due to UbiQD’s leadership in large-area applications like agriculture films and solar windows.

Hunter McDaniel

mcdaniel

Hunter McDaniel, PhD is the founder and CEO of UbiQD. He founded UbiQD in 2014 after completing a postdoc at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Chemistry Division. Under his leadership, the company has raised more than $4M, has grown to more than 10 full time employees, and has seen annual revenues more than double each year. McDaniel has won numerous awards for his leadership, ability to pitch, scientific achievements, scholastic milestones, and he is an Eagle Scout. He considers himself an expert at nanotechnology, optical devices, quantum materials, the solar industry, and bootstrapping a hard science-based technology company. McDaniel has a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (2011), has published more than 30 scientific papers and patents, and has been cited more than 1,100 times. Prior to studying in Illinois, McDaniel earned bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara (2006).

Aaron Jackson

jackson

Dr. Jackson’s research career has been focused on applied polymer research and product development. In 2006, he graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Materials Science and engineering. At Cornell, Dr. Jackson studied fuel cell catalysts and fuel cell testing. In 2011, he graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering. His thesis focused on the development of nanoscale self-healing materials and applications, particularly for optical films. Within the framework of this research, he developed novel encapsulation methods and new selfhealing chemistries. After Illinois, Dr. Jackson studied as a post-doctoral researcher at the Army Research Labs where he characterized morphologies of phase separated polymer structures including supramolecular polymer nanocomposites and fuel cells. His most recent position was at Axalta Coatings Systems developing formulations for solvent borne, low emissions paint systems. Dr. Jackson’s expertise related to this project includes industrial formulations, polymer engineering, nanoparticle functionalization, and polymer characterization (TEM, STEM, SEM, SAXS).

Matt Bergren

bergren

Dr. Matt Bergren is UbiQD's Chief Product Officer and leads product design, testing, and customer discovery. He received his bachelors of science in engineering physics at Colorado School of Mines and received his PhD in applied physics from the Colorado School of Mines in 2014 while performing research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO. Before joining UbiQD in the fall of 2015, Dr. Bergren held postdoctoral positions at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory studying carrier dynamics in CdTe thin film solar cells and at the Center for Integrated Nanostructure Physics, an Institute of Basic Science at Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea. Over the past 9 years, Dr. Bergren’s research has mainly focused on understanding the optoelectronic properties of nanostructures (including QDs, nanowires, two-dimensional semiconductors and nanocomposites). Matt is an expert in ultrafast and steady-state spectroscopy (including time-correlated single photon counting measurements, PLQY, time-resolved and steady-state PL, ultrafast transient absorption and time-resolved terahertz spectroscopy). Dr. Bergren is highly experienced with photoluminescence experiments, with numerous peer-reviewed publications, where he has studied the emission properties of QD solutions and thin films as well as nanocomposites.

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November 2018

More Food, Energy & Homes- Where will the water come from?

Vincent Tidwell, Sandia National Laboratories


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January 2019

Hantavirus, Rift Valley and Zika fever

Carrie Manore, Los Alamos National Laboratory


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January 2019

AI, Ubiquitous Computing, and Fake News: The Promise and Ethics of Machine Learning

Gary Goddard, Los Alamos National Laboratory


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March 2019

Epigenetics

Elena Giorgi and Karissa Sanbonmatsu, Los Alamos National Laboratory