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Science Highlights


Science highlights feature research conducted by staff and users at the ALS.

If a Power Point summary slide or a PDF handout of the highlight is available, you will find it linked beneath the highlight listing and on the highlight's page. You may also print a version of a highlight by clicking the print icon associated with each highlight.



A New Universal Parameter for Superconductivity Print
Thursday, 14 April 2016 00:00

Scientists have been researching high-temperature (high-Tc) superconductors for decades with the goal of finding materials that express superconducting capabilities at room temperature, which would be a requirement for practical and cost-effective applications. The newest materials to gain scientific interest are iron-based superconductors, and the latest research from the ALS on these materials indicates a new factor that determines their superconductivity.

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Exploring the Repeat-Protein Universe Print
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 00:00

Researchers have published a landmark study that used both crystallography and SAXS to validate computationally designed structures of novel proteins with repeated motifs. The results show that the protein-folding universe is far larger than realized, opening up a wide array of new possibilities for biomolecular engineering.

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Manganese Reduction-Oxidation Drives Plant Debris Decomposition Print
Monday, 22 February 2016 00:00

ALS research has shown that manganese reduction-oxidation (redox) reactions are an important factor in controlling the rate of plant debris decomposition. Understanding the role of manganese will help build better models to predict how litter decomposition rates—and thus nutrient cycling and the ecosystem carbon balance—may behave in future climate scenarios.

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Porous Framework Electrocatalysts Are Key to Carbon Dioxide Conversion Print
Friday, 19 February 2016 13:11

Researchers have made significant headway in the quest to convert CO2 into valuable chemical products such as fuels, pharmaceuticals, and plastics. Recent work at the ALS has shown MOFs and COFs as a valuable new class of CO2 reduction catalysts.

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Aerosol Oxidation Speeds Up in Smoggy Air Print
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 11:37

To better understand the effects of organic aerosols on climate, pollution, and health, researchers measured aerosol reaction rates at ALS Beamline 9.0.2. They discovered an unexpectedly large acceleration in aerosol oxidation in the presence of anthropogenic pollutants commonly found in smoggy air, a result that could help bring models closer in line with observations.

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A New Pathway for Radionuclide Uptake Print
Thursday, 21 January 2016 12:40

Scientists have reported a major advance in understanding the biological chemistry of radioactive metals, opening up new avenues of research into strategies for remedial action in the event of possible human exposure to nuclear contaminants.

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Phonon Polariton Behavior in 2D Materials Print
Tuesday, 19 January 2016 09:57

Synchrotron infrared nanospectroscopy (SINS) was used to study the behavior of phonon polaritons in ultrathin crystals of hexagonal boron nitride. The results pave the way towards engineering infrared-light photonic nanodevices and expand our understanding of polariton behavior in low-dimensional nanomaterials.

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Weyl Fermions Discovered After 85 Years Print
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 00:00

Weyl fermions, elusive massless particles first theorized 85 years ago, have now been detected as emergent quasiparticles in synthetic crystals of the semimetal TaAs. The discovery could allow for the nearly free and efficient flow of electricity, as well as the realization of many fascinating topological quantum phenomena.

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Binding Behavior of Dopamine Transporter Key to Understanding Chemical Reactions in the Brain Print
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 00:00

Scientists working at the ALS recently solved the crystallographic structures of several amine transporters in an effort to better understand why the human brain responds to chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. What they found will help in the design of drugs to treat many neurological diseases, and may also lead to a better understanding of how addiction to abused drugs such as cocaine can be managed.

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Watching a Liquid-Crystal Helix Unwind Print
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 00:00

For the first time, researchers have directly measured the helical pitch of twisted liquid crystals composed of achiral bent-core molecules. The work opens the door to understanding the interplay between structure and property in important organic materials, including liquid crystals, lipid tubules, and peptoids.

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A Designed Protein Maps Brain Activity Print
Wednesday, 28 October 2015 00:00

A team of scientists designed and validated via x-ray crystallographic studies a fluorescent protein (CaMPARI) that allows the permanent marking of active brain cells. The protein was then used to study live changes via fluorescence in the active nerve cells in brains of fruit flies, zebrafish, and mice.

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X-Ray Microscopy Reveals How Crystal Mechanics Drive Battery Performance Print
Wednesday, 28 October 2015 00:00

Recent findings at the ALS show that small crystal size is key to maintaining a battery's performance and establish soft x-ray ptychography as an essential tool for studying chemical states in nanoparticles.

 

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Signal Speed in Nanomagnetic Logic Chains Print
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 00:00

A time-resolved x-ray imaging technique directly observes signal propagation dynamics in nanomagnetic logic (NML) chains. The technique can assess NML reliability on fast time scales and help optimize chain engineering for this promising ultralow-power computing architecture.

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Carotenoid Pigment is the Key to Photoprotection Print
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 00:00

A technique newly available at the ALS has enabled researchers to discover a surprising key event in photosynthetic systems.

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Tracking the Elusive QOOH Radical Print
Monday, 29 June 2015 00:00

For the first time, researchers directly observed QOOH molecules, a class of highly reactive molecules at the center of the web of ignition chemistry reactions. The data generated will improve the fidelity of combustion models used to create cleaner and more efficient cars and trucks.

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