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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.



Trending: Metal Oxo Bonds Print
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 00:00

Strongly covalent metal–oxygen multiple bonds (metal oxos) hold the key to a wide variety of vital chemical processes. Spectroscopic and computational analyses of several metal oxides have quantified trends in metal oxo bonding for transition metals across the periodic table.

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One Vaccine Leads to Another Print
Friday, 24 May 2013 11:19

Diphtheria is a potentially lethal respiratory disease that is fairly well controlled by vaccines discovered early last century. These vaccines have been extremely effective; studies on one vaccine in particular, the nontoxic form of the diphtheria toxin (DT), have informed other vaccines. Recently, researchers solved several structures of a nontoxic DT using data obtained at ALS Beamline 5.0.3, resolving a long-standing scientific puzzle and leading the way to even better vaccines for a variety of bacterial diseases.

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Flipping Photoelectron Spins in Topological Insulators Print
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:00

Inherently strange crystalline materials called 3D topological insulators (TIs) are a hot topic in materials science. Now, scientists working at ALS Beamline 4.0.3 have found that the spin polarization of electrons emitted from TIs can be completely controlled in three dimensions when hit with a photon beam, simply by tuning the polarization of the incident light.

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Space-Age Ceramics Get Their Toughest Test Print
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 07:23

Advanced ceramic composites can withstand the ultrahigh operating temperatures of jet engines, but detailed analysis of these materials at such high temperatures has been a challenge. In a new highlight with video, researchers describe a testing facility that enables microtomography of ceramic composites at temperatures above 1600°C.

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The Importance of Domain Size and Purity in High-Efficiency Organic Solar Cells Print
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 00:00

Scientists have long believed that the key to high efficiency in polymer-based organic photovoltaic cells rests in the purity of the charge donor and acceptor domains. Now, researchers have demonstrated that impure domains, if made sufficiently small, can also lead to improved performance.

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Studying the Solar System's Chemical Recipe Print
Tuesday, 26 March 2013 00:00

To study the origins of different isotope ratios among the elements that make up today’s smorgasbord of planets, moons, comets, asteroids, and interplanetary ice and dust, a team of scientists from the University of California, San Diego is using ALS Chemical Dynamics Beamline 9.0.2 to mimic radiation from the protosun when the solar system was forming.

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Two Studies Reveal Details of Lithium-Battery Function Print
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 00:00

Our way of life is deeply intertwined with battery technologies that have enabled a mobile revolution. In two studies at the ALS, researchers studied lithium batteries, obtaining detailed information about the evolution of electronic and chemical states that will be indispensable for building better batteries.

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Chemistry of Cobalt-Platinum Nanocatalysts Print
Monday, 25 February 2013 15:59

Bimetallic cobalt-platinum (CoPt) nanoparticles are drawing attention in many areas of catalysis as scientists tackle the quest to reduce precious metal content while maintaining optimum catalytic selectivity and reactivity.

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Toward Design of a Universal Flu Vaccine Print
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 00:00

Scientists have determined the structures of antibodies that protect against broad classes of influenza strains. Greater understanding of these structures may aid in the eventual development of a universal vaccine, protecting against all types of influenza viruses and eliminating the guesswork that limits vaccine effectiveness.

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New Species of Cyanobacteria Forms Intracellular Carbonates Print
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 00:00

A new species of cyanobacteria discovered in the Mexican Lake of Alchichica has been found to form amorphous intracellular carbonates, significantly modifying the traditional view of extracellular calcium carbonate precipitation and improving our understanding of the fossil record.

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Studies Bolster Promise of Topological Insulators Print
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 00:00

Topological insulators are highly promising materials for electronic applications, displaying startling electronic properties and providing a possible medium for observing still-theoretical particles relevant to quantum computing. Two recent studies at the ALS bolster prospects for the practical application of these materials in advanced devices.

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Guided Self-Assembly of Gold Thin Films Print
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 12:18

A team of UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a relatively easy, inexpensive, and scalable technique to direct the self­-assembly of gold nanoparticles into device-ready thin films, which have potential applications in fields ranging from energy harvesting to plasmonics.

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Polarized X-Rays Reveal Molecular Alignment in Printed Electronics Print
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 00:00

A new scattering method uses polarized x-rays to reveal the orientations of polymer chains in organic films. The orientations are relevant to a better understanding of charge-carrier mobility in organic transistors and charge separation in organic photovoltaics, leading to improved performance in "printable electronics."

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Central Activator Keeps the Circadian Clock Ticking Print
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 00:00

Most living organisms have adapted their physiology and behavior to match the daily cycle of light and dark generated by the rotation of the earth, operating with a period of approximately 24 hours. Control of this rhythmic behavior—the “circadian clock”—is largely conserved. To understand the inner workings of the circadian clock, researchers determined the 3D structure of the transcriptional activator complex that is its central positive component.

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Tracking Living Cells as They Differentiate in Real Time Print
Thursday, 27 September 2012 00:00

Berkeley Lab and University of California researchers have developed a new technique for monitoring protein phosphorylation inside single living cells, enabling them to follow live cellular chemical changes without bias and without harming the cells.

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