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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 Spintronic Semiconductor with Selectable Charge Carriers Print
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 00:00

Researchers found a semiconductor with two properties crucial for spintronics: a large Rashba effect (splitting of degenerate spin states) and ambipolarity (conduction via electrons and holes). Furthermore, it is possible to control whether the charge carriers are electrons or holes by engineering the surface layer.

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From Protein Structure to Function: Ring Cycle for Dilating and Constricting the Nuclear Pore Print
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 00:00

Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) serve as gatekeepers between a cell's cytoplasm and its nucleus. Through crystallographic analyses at the ALS, researchers have elucidated the molecular architecture of the NPC transport channel.

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Reversing the Circulation of Magnetic Vortices Print
Wednesday, 31 July 2013 00:00

Recently, magnetic vortices have drawn scientists toward the possibility of multibit magnetic memory in which each logic unit has four states instead of two. Previous studies showed how to flip the vortex polarity. Now, researchers show how to reverse the circulation from clockwise to counterclockwise.

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Mapping Particle Charges in Battery Electrodes Print
Friday, 26 July 2013 14:18

Despite the technological innovations and widespread use of batteries, the mechanism behind charging and discharging particles remains largely a mystery. Recently, researchers combined synchrotron-based scanning transmission x-ray microscopy with transmission electron microscopy at ALS Beamlines 5.3.2 and 11.0.2 to probe the charging and discharging dynamics of lithium iron phosphate, a promising positive battery electrode.

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Iron Availability in the Southern Ocean Print
Friday, 21 June 2013 10:08

A study by scientists from South Africa’s Stellenbosch University, Princeton University, and the ALS looks at the reduced abundance of sea life and phytoplankton in the photic zone of the Southern Ocean, suggesting that a lack of iron in an easy-to-use form is affecting the ecosystems.

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Shedding Light on Nanocrystal Defects Print
Thursday, 20 June 2013 10:41

Nanocrystals have attracted much scientific interest lately, but recent ALS research has shown that their tiny size does not safeguard them from defects. Nanocrystals subjected to high pressure experiments suffered dislocation-mediated plastic deformation even when the crystals were only three nanometers in size.

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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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