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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 .



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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New Hope for Retinitis Pigmentosa Patients Print
Thursday, 04 February 2016 16:26

Using FTIR microspectroscopy at the NSLS in Brookhaven and at ALS Beamline 1.4.3, scientists got a first glimpse into the structural changes that result from point mutations in opsin, one of the causes of retinitis pigmentosa.

Summary Slide

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Luminescent MOFs for Mycotoxin Detection Print
Thursday, 04 February 2016 16:26

Crystal diffractometry at ALS Beamline 11.3.1 helped scientists develop and understand a new, highly sensitive luminescent metal­­–organic framework for mycotoxin detection.

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Conduction Along Magnetic Interfaces Could Improve Memory Devices Print
Thursday, 04 February 2016 15:54

Scientists have provided the first direct evidence of a controversial phenomenon: the boundaries between magnetic regions in an electrical insulator can become electrically conductive. This discovery can potentially lead to improvements in future memory storage devices.

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Foreign DNA Capture during CRISPR–CAS Adaptive Immunity Print
Thursday, 21 January 2016 16:45

Using macromolecular crystallography at Beamline 8.3.1 at the ALS, Berkeley researchers discovered how CRISPR/Cas captures foreign DNA for the bacterial immune system.

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On the Road to ANG Vehicles with Increased Driving Ranges Print
Thursday, 21 January 2016 16:08

An international team of researchers, using gas adsorption studies, in situ powder x-ray diffraction, and single-crystal x-ray diffraction, showed that there is a way to develop a new flexible metal–organic framework (MOF) material for enhanced natural gas storage on vehicles.

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