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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.



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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Ancient Proteins Help Unravel a Modern Cancer Drug’s Mechanism Print
Tuesday, 23 June 2015 13:00

The cancer drug Gleevec is extremely specific, binding and inhibiting only the cancer-causing tyrosine protein kinase Blc-Abl, while not targeting homologous protein kinases found in normal, healthy cells. Researchers at the ALS have uncovered exactly why that is the case, pointing to novel methods of drug discovery.

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Spectroscopy of Supercapacitor Electrodes In Operando Print
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 00:00

X-ray spectroscopy of graphene supercapacitor electrodes under operating conditions reveals changes in electronic structure and bonding. The research could lead to an improvement in the capacity and efficiency of electrical energy storage systems needed to meet the burgeoning demands of consumer, industrial, and green technologies.

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ALS X-Rays Shine a New Light on Catalysis Print
Thursday, 21 May 2015 11:16

Electrocatalysts are responsible for expediting reactions in many promising renewable energy technologies. Recently a team of Stanford and Berkeley Lab researchers used x-rays at the ALS in a novel way to observe the behavior of electrons during technologically important chemical reactions in metal oxide electrocatalysts. What they learned has upended long-held scientific understanding of how these catalysts work.

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Peptoid Nanosheets Offer a Diversity of Functionalities Print
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 00:00

Researchers at the ALS have recently observed peptoid nanosheets—two-dimensional biomimetic materials with customizable properties—as they self-assemble at an oil–water interface. This new development opens the door to designing peptoid nanosheets of increasing structural complexity and chemical functionality for a broad range of applications, including improved chemical sensors and separators, and safer, more effective drug delivery vehicles.

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A Fullerene that Breaks the Rules Print
Tuesday, 28 April 2015 00:00

Scientists used small-molecule x-ray crystallography to verify and characterize the first non-functionalized fullerene with a heptagonal ring in the cage. This new molecule changes the definition of a classical fullerene and expands the range of structural possibilities for endohedral fullerenes.

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Molecular Structure of Water at Gold Electrodes Revealed Print
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 00:00

ALS researchers have now made a first-ever observation of the molecular structure of liquid water at a gold surface under different charging conditions. This marks the first time that the scientific community has been able to achieve such high sensitivity in an in situ environment under working electrode conditions.

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Protein Instability and Lou Gehrig's Disease Print
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 00:00

A new study uses small-angle x-ray scattering as well as several advanced biophysical techniques to link protein instability to the progression of a lethal degenerative disease: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

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In Situ X-Ray Scattering Helps Optimize Printed Solar Cells Print
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 00:00

Printable plastic solar cells are a potential source of inexpensive renewable energy, but the transition from lab to factory results in decreased efficiency. Now, for the first time, a miniature solar-cell printer installed in a beamline allows researchers to use x-ray diffraction and scattering to figure out why.

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New Technique Gives a Deeper Look into the Chemistry of Interfaces Print
Monday, 23 February 2015 10:48

A new technique developed at the ALS offers sub-nanometer depth resolution of every chemical element to be found at heterogeneous interfaces, such as those in batteries and fuel cells. The technique is very promising for measuring such important interfaces, with relevance to energy research, heterogeneous catalysis, electrochemistry, and atmospheric and environmental science.

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Brain Receptor Structures Key to Future Therapeutics Print
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 00:00

Neurotransmitter receptor proteins are critical to learning and memory. Mutations are associated with many neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions including Alzheimer's, epilepsy, and autism. Multiple structures of two such receptors, solved by x-ray crystallography at the ALS, provide a blueprint for the development of potential therapeutics.

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Record-Setting Microscopy Illuminates Energy Storage Materials Print
Thursday, 22 January 2015 12:10

Using soft x-ray ptychography, researchers at the ALS have demonstrated the highest-resolution x-ray microscopy ever achieved by imaging five-nanometer structures. The researchers used ptychographic imaging to map the chemical composition of lithium iron phosphate nanocrystals, yielding important new insights into a material of high interest for electrochemical energy storage.

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