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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.



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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Resonant Soft X-Ray Scattering of Tri-Block Copolymers Print
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 00:00

Tri-block copolymers can serve as scaffolds and templates for a vast number of novel and useful nanostructures. Resonant soft x-ray scattering at the ALS, a unique, powerful tool for examining complex, multi-component systems, has revealed a new phase of ABC tri-block copolymer with complicated morphology.

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Structures of Clamp-Loader Complexes Are Key to DNA Replication Print
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 00:00

How a clamp loader, a molecular machine that facilities DNA replication, accomplishes its task of attaching a ring-shaped clamp to a DNA strand has been unknown at the structural level. New structures obtained at the ALS of clamp-loader complexes in action clarify the mechanism of DNA replication.

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Ultrafast Spectroscopy of Warm Dense Matter Print
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 00:00

So-called "warm dense matter" (neither solid, liquid, gas, nor plasma) tends to be drastically transient and difficult to study in the laboratory. Researchers have now demonstrated that, at the ALS, fast-changing electron temperatures of matter under extreme conditions can be determined with picosecond resolution.

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Genome Engineering with TAL Effector Nucleases Print
Tuesday, 24 April 2012 09:48

In genome engineering, a single position within a DNA sequence is altered without affecting the rest of the genetic code. The structure of a new gene-targeting system, the TAL effector nuclease, reveals its mechanism of action and provides crucial details for its future development.

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Lensless Imaging of Magnetic Nanostructures Print
Wednesday, 28 March 2012 00:00

The high brightness and coherence of the ALS's soft x-rays have enabled a group of scientists, working at Beamline 12.0.2, to use a lensless x-ray method involving iterative mathematical algorithms to view nanometer-scale magnetic structures in an alloy for the first time.

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A Better Anode Design to Improve Lithium-Ion Batteries Print
Friday, 23 March 2012 13:53

A new kind of anode has been developed for use in lithium-ion batteries that is eight times as absorbent as current designs, and has maintained its greatly increased energy capacity after many hundreds of charge-discharge cycles.

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A Microscopic Double-Slit Experiment Print
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 00:00

In a new twist on Young's classic double-slit experiment, researchers have shown that the double slits can be replaced by electron-emitting diatomic molecules and that traces of electron-wave interference can be directly observed in measurements of the vibrationally resolved photoionization spectra.

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Signal Recognition Particle-Receptor Complex Structure Solved Print
Monday, 27 February 2012 15:06

The signal recognition particle (SRP) transfers new proteins around cells. The newly solved crystal structure of SRP in action exposes new information about its structure and mechanism in this essential and highly-conserved process of co-translational protein targeting.

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Direct Kinetic Measurements of a Criegee Intermediate Print
Wednesday, 25 January 2012 00:00

"Criegee intermediates" are elusive molecules that play a pivotal role in atmospheric chemistry and are also byproducts of key combustion reactions. At the Chemical Dynamics Beamline, the reaction rates of one form of Criegee intermediate was directly measured for the first time, with some surprising results.

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Structure of DNA-Bound FEN1 Reveals Mechanism of Action Print
Tuesday, 24 January 2012 11:30

Among the legions of proteins required for DNA replication, the “flap endonuclease” FEN1 plays a key role. An international team of scientists working at the SIBYLS Beamline has now solved the structure of human FEN1 bound to DNA, revealing the surprising mechanism behind its speed, accuracy, and versatility.

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Two Phase Transitions Make a High-Temperature Superconductor Print
Wednesday, 30 November 2011 00:00

Three research groups joined forces to show that high-temperature (high-Tc) cuprate superconductors undergo two phase transitions: one to the superconducting phase and another at a higher temperature, below which electrons, instead of pairing up, organize themselves in a drastically different, yet still elusive, way.

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Dynein Motor Domain Shows Ring-Shaped Motor, Buttress Print
Monday, 28 November 2011 14:52

Motor proteins convert energy into a series of small conformational changes that allow them to literally “walk” along microscopic tracks and move cargo around cells. A newly-discovered crystal structure of the motor protein dynein reveals details of its ring-shaped motor as well as an unanticipated feature called the "buttress."

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