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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.



Tuning of the Metal–Insulator Transition via Alkali Adsorption Print
Wednesday, 29 March 2006 00:00

A team of researchers from the University of Kiel in Germany and the ALS has found a novel, surprising way to continuously transform a layered metallic transition-metal compound, TaS2, into an insulator.

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DNA-Binding Mechanism in Prokaryotic Partition Complex Formation Print
Wednesday, 29 March 2006 00:00

The faithful inheritance of genetic information, essential for all organisms, requires accurate movement and positioning of replicated DNA to daughter cells during cell division. In cells without distinct nuclei (prokaryotes), this process, called partition or segregation, is mediated by par systems.

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First Direct Imaging of Swollen Microgel Particles Print
Wednesday, 22 February 2006 00:00

Microgels are soft-material particles consisting of cross-linked polymer networks, 100 nm to 1 μm in diameter, dispersed in a continuous medium such as water. A useful feature of certain types of microgel particles is that they can swell or shrink with changes in external triggers such as pH and temperature.

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Ultrafast Core-Hole Induced Dynamics in Water Print
Wednesday, 22 February 2006 00:00

Using a combination of isotope substitution experiments and molecular dynamics simulations, researchers from Sweden, Germany, and the U.S. have shown that the ultrafast (0- to 10-fs) dissociation dynamics of liquid water can be successfully probed with x-ray emission spectroscopy.

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First Detailed Look at RNA Dicer Print
Wednesday, 25 January 2006 00:00

Scientists have gotten their first detailed look at the molecular structure of an enzyme that Nature has been using for eons to help silence unwanted genetic messages: Dicer, an enzyme that plays a critical role in a process known as RNA interference.

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Depth Profile of Uncompensated Spins in an Exchange-Bias System Print
Wednesday, 25 January 2006 00:00

The phenomenon known as exchange bias at the interface between a ferromagnet and an antiferromagnet is currently a subject of intense research because of its applications in the magnetic recording and read-head industries.

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Assembly of a Molecular Needle, from the Bottom Up Print
Wednesday, 21 December 2005 00:00

The type III secretion system (TTSS) is a sophisticated protein complex with an overall shape similar to a hypodermic needle. More than twenty unique types of proteins are required for its assembly, most of which are found among a wide variety of animal as well as plant pathogens.

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Vacancy-Induced Nanoscale Wire Structure in Gallium Selenide Layers Print
Wednesday, 21 December 2005 00:00

One approach for creating low-dimensional structures is to exploit the nanoscale or atomic-scale features that exist naturally in the three-dimensional form of materials. By this means, researchers have demonstrated a new way of creating one-dimensional nanoscale structures (nanowires) in the compound gallium selenide.

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Structural Basis for Activation of Cholera Toxin Print
Wednesday, 30 November 2005 00:00

Cholera is a serious disease that claims thousands of victims each year in third-world, war-torn, and disaster-stricken nations. The culprit is the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, which can be ingested through contaminated food or water and colonizes the mucous membrane of the human small intestine.

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Biological Imaging by Soft X-Ray Diffraction Microscopy Print
Wednesday, 30 November 2005 00:00

Coherent x-ray diffraction imaging takes advantage of the penetrating power of x rays while simultaneously removing limitations imposed by lens-based optical systems. Researchers have used a lensless x-ray diffraction microscope to image a freeze-dried yeast cell to better than 30-nm resolution.

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Engineering Metal Impurities in Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells Print
Wednesday, 26 October 2005 00:00

The size, spatial distribution, and chemical binding of metals within clusters is just as important as the total metal concentration in limiting the performance of multicrystalline silicon solar cells. This led to the concept of defect engineering by optimizing growth and processing sequences to trap metals in their least harmful state.

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Protein Flips Lipids Across Membranes Print
Wednesday, 26 October 2005 00:00

Found ubiquitously in both bacteria and humans, membrane proteins of the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)–binding cassette (ABC) transporter family have been implicated in both antibiotic and cancer-drug resistance.

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Crystal Structure of a Protein Kinase A Complex Print
Wednesday, 26 October 2005 00:00

Protein kinase A (PKA) is an enzyme that regulates processes as diverse as growth, memory, and metabolism. In its unactivated state, PKA exists as a tetrameric complex of two catalytic subunits and a regulatory subunit dimer...

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Disorder-Induced Microscopic Magnetic Memory Print
Wednesday, 26 October 2005 00:00

The magnetic-recording industry deliberately introduces carefully controlled disorder into its materials to obtain the desired magnetic properties. But as the density of magnetic disks climbs, the size of the magnetic domains responsible for storage must decrease, posing new challenges.

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Femtosecond NEXAFS of Photoinduced Insulator-Metal Transition in VO2 Print
Wednesday, 28 September 2005 00:00

Researchers have taken a big step in femtosecond studies by adding femtosecond x-ray spectroscopy to the experimental toolkit with their first use of the laser-slicing technique to study the photoinduced metal–insulator phase transition in vanadium dioxide (VO2).

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