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Science Briefs


ALS Science Briefs are short (250 words maximum) descriptions of recently published ALS-related work. These “brief” highlights also include one image, a caption (50 words), and the publication citation. All ALS users and beamline scientists are invited to fill out the short submission form here and send a hi-res image to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



Improving Alloy Memory by Tuning Material Composition Print
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 00:00

Shape memory alloys can "remember" their original form and return to it repeatedly when heated. To gain structural insight into a new alloy capable of sustaining millions of cycles without failure, researchers performed x-ray Laue microdiffraction at ALS Beamline 12.3.2.

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Validation of Novel Proteins Inspired by Nature Print
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 00:00

Designed proteins containing hydrogen-bonding modules have been validated by crystallography and SAXS. The ability to design synthetic molecules that combine the specificity of DNA-like binding with protein function opens up huge opportunities for the fields of synthetic biology and materials science.

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A Cleansing Rain Falls; a Soil-Filled Mist Arises Print
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 00:00

Rain's reputation for cleansing the air may come with a caveat after new findings, including STXM and NEXAFS data, show that raindrops play a role in generating airborne organic particles. The findings could influence how scientists model our planet's climate and future.

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Getting to the Root of Grapevine Hydraulics Print
Monday, 11 July 2016 00:00

In grapevines, "root pressure" was assumed to play a role in recovering from embolisms (blockages) in a plant's water-transport systems during drought conditions. To clarify this, researchers used ALS Beamline 8.3.2 to obtain 3D microtomographic images of grapevine stem segments detached from roots and leaves.

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Mapping the Topology of the Human Genome Print
Monday, 11 July 2016 00:00

To determine how a gene will function, we need to know the spatial arrangement of the genome in the nucleus. Researchers have made a significant advance in determining this 3D organization by combining modeling and probabilistic calculations with minimally perturbing imaging techniques.

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A Novel Quasi-1D Topological Insulator Print
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 00:00

The tantalizing prospect of energy-saving, ultralow-power electronics has led to a vigorous search for optimal topological insulator materials. Now, an international team of scientists has discovered the first of a new class of topological insulators with unique properties: quasi-1D bismuth iodide.

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Understanding the Key to Henipavirus Infection Print
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 00:00

The Hendra virus was the first member of the genus Henipavirus, an emergent group of viruses with a high mortality rate. Knowledge of the protein structure that mediates Hendra entry into host cells could enable the design of antigens with improved immunogenic response.

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Power-Amplified Predatory Strikes in Trap-Jaw Spiders Print
Friday, 10 June 2016 13:23

Using a combination of high-speed video, molecular phylogenetic analysis, and x-ray microtomography of a family of tiny trap-jaw spiders, researchers discovered that power-amplified predatory strikes evolved four times independently, once the basic trap-jaw body plan was in place.

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Reducing Plant Lignin for Cheaper Biofuels Print
Wednesday, 04 May 2016 12:11

Scientists have identified and validated a novel approach to reducing lignin in plants by tweaking a key lignin enzyme. Their technique could help lower the cost of converting biomass into carbon-neutral fuels to power cars and other sustainably developed bio-products.

Summary Slide

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Driving Skyrmions Along a Racetrack Print
Thursday, 14 April 2016 13:41

Researchers have demonstrated the ability to generate stable skyrmion lattices and to drive trains of individual skyrmions by short current pulses along a magnetic racetrack at speeds exceeding 100 m/s, as required for spintronic applications.

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Missing Oxygen Atoms Are Key to Robust Spintronic Material Print
Friday, 01 April 2016 11:44

Researchers studied In2O3:Fe, a promising spintronic material, to determine what leads to its surprisingly robust magnetic properties, how to optimize it, and what to look for in other candidate spintronic materials.

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Superlattices Patterned by Polymers Print
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 13:31

Scientists have shown that self-assembled superlattices, made up of nanoparticles with polymer chains grafted onto their surfaces (“hairy nanoparticles,” or polymer “brushes”), can be tailored to exhibit desired characteristics for applications ranging from nano- to biotechnology.

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On the Way to Unlimited Energy Print
Tuesday, 08 March 2016 11:22

With the help of four different ALS beamlines, scientists were able to understand and improve the morphology of the main device structure in organic photovoltaic cells.

Summary Slide

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Improving Anti-Influenza Medications Print
Monday, 07 March 2016 16:16

Protein crystallography at ALS Beamline 8.3.1 helped scientists understand the M2 proton-channel structure from the influenza A virus, an understanding that is needed to design better anti-influenza medications.

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Improving Meningococcal Vaccines Print
Tuesday, 16 February 2016 12:50

Scientists have found a way to improve the stability of an essential antigenic protein to develop vaccines with higher efficacy for prevention of bacterial meningitis.

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