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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.



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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Two Electron Holes in Hematite Facilitate Water Splitting Print
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 00:00

Hematite is a promising electrode material for solar-powered water splitting—an important reqirement for producing hydrogen fuel with zero emissions. At Beamline 7.0.1, researchers have gained a better understanding of hematite's electronic structure through soft x-ray spectroscopy performed in situ and "operando."

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A New Route to Nanoscale Conducting Channels in Insulating Oxides Print
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 00:00

Building on the recent discovery of a highly mobile two-dimensional electron gas at the interface between two insulating oxides, researchers can now generate and control a two-dimensional gas state on bare insulating oxide surfaces, a capability that may speed the future of oxide electronics.

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Not All Nanodisk Magnetic Vortices Are Created Equally Print
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 00:00

Magnetic vortices – hurricanes of magnetism only a few atoms across – have been found to form asymmetrically in ferromagnetic nanodisks. This finding contradicts previous beliefs and poses challenges to using magnetic vortexes in random access memory (RAM) data storage systems.

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A Surprising Path for Proton Transfer Without Hydrogen Bonds Print
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 00:00

Scientists working at the ALS have discovered a new route for proton movement from one molecule to another—a basic step in countless chemical and biological reactions—thereby opening new avenues for research in biology, environmental science, and green chemistry.

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New Crystal Structures Lift Fog around Protein Folding Print
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 00:00

At the ALS, researchers have deciphered the crystal structure of a critical control element within large protein-folding machines (chaperonins). In identifying the nucleotide-sensing loop and its controlling role, the researchers believe they may have opened a new avenue by which modified protein-folding activities could be engineered.

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Hidden Rotational Symmetries in Magnetic Domain Patterns Print
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 00:00

While ubiquitous in nature, symmetry is not always evident. The first observation of hidden rotational symmetries in a magnetic system gives scientists a toolbox for discovering hidden symmetries in diverse material systems.

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Borrowing from Nature to Produce Highly Structured Biomimetic Materials Print
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 00:00

Researchers have turned a benign virus into an engineering tool for assembling structures that mimic collagen, one of the most important structural proteins in nature. The process they developed could eventually be used to manufacture materials with tunable optical, biomedical, and mechanical properties.

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