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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.



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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Lensless X-Ray Imaging in Reflection Print
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 00:00

Recently, researchers from the ALS and the University of Oregon have shown that it is possible to form x-ray holograms in reflection geometry, opening the door to single-shot, high-resolution lensless imaging of a wealth of new material samples.

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Direct Imaging of Antiferromagnetic Vortex States Print
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 00:00

Despite intensive activity in the study of ferromagnetic (FM) vortex states, there has been no direct observation of such states in antiferromagnetic (AFM) microstructures. Researchers have now taken the first direct images of two types of AFM vortex states, one of which has no FM analogue.

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Bioactive Glass Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration Print
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 00:00

Natural materials are renowned for their unique combination of outstanding mechanical properties and exquisite microstructure. Researchers at Beamline 8.3.2 have created bioactive glass scaffolds that mirror nature's efficient materials and may provide a means for previously-problematic bone regeneration in large, load-bearing limbs.

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Mineral Deformation at Earth's Core–Mantle Boundary Print
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 00:00

At Earth's core–mantle boundary, seismic waves travel faster in certain directions. This appears to be related to the deformation of constituent minerals. To better understand, researchers re-created the ultrahigh pressures of the deep Earth while conducting x-ray diffraction experiments to probe changes in crystal orientations.

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Large Magnetization at Carbon Surfaces Print
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 00:00

From organic matter to pencil lead, carbon is a versatile element. Now, another use has been found: magnets. Researchers studying the effects of protons on the electronic structure of graphite found very strong magnetization when hydrogen atoms are incorporated at the surface of graphite.

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