sandia national labs


On Feb. 15, 2013, an asteroid estimated to be the size of a six-story building shot through Earth’s atmosphere at around 43,200 miles per hour. Dragging through the air at such speed caused the object to heat, and it eventually exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia.

The airburst released energy equal to 500,000 tons of TNT–30 times more powerful than the Hiroshima nuclear bomb–sending a pressure wave to the ground that damaged buildings and resulted in more than 100 hospitalizations. Researchers using Sandia National Lab’s Red Sky supercomputer reconstructed the path and explosion of the asteroid to improve models for future trajectories and impacts.

Images courtesy Sandia National Lab. Gif courtesy Sandia/Nature.

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Yesterday we displayed GE’s research in advanced microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), a technology the company is using to make tiny switches that can turn on and off 10,000 times a second. Other researchers around the country are looking into different MEMS applications to make tiny gears, tools and even engines. 

Above are a few examples from Sandia National Laboratories and Boston University, two other institutions also working on extreme miniaturization. Click on these electron microscope images to learn more.

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