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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.



Probing Strain-Induced Changes in Electronic Structure with XMCD Print
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 00:00

Soft x-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD) techniques are uniquely suited to provide detailed information about the impact of strain on the electronic properties of magnetic oxide nanoarchitectures, a result that is of great practical interest for strain engineering—i.e. tuning and controlling material properties through lattice distortions.

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Paving the Way to Nanoelectronics 16 nm and Smaller Print
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 00:00

High-quality 16-nm lines and spaces have been printed using the SEMATECH Berkeley Microfield Exposure Tool (MET)—the highest resolution ever achieved from a single-exposure projection optical lithography tool—advancing the development of a high-sensitivity photoresist with low line-edge roughness and sub-22-nm resolution.

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Giant Protease TPP II’s Structure, Mechanism Uncovered Print
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 00:00

Tripeptidyl peptidase II, the largest known eukaryotic protease, is implicated in numerous cellular processes including the degradation of endogenous satiety agent cholecystokinin–8, making it a target in the treatment of obesity. Understanding this molecular machine’s mechanisms of activation and proteolysis could expedite research.

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Superconducting Topological Insulators Print
Wednesday, 26 January 2011 00:00

ARPES studies show that it's possible to introduce superconductivity into a topological insulator. The resulting novel properties, such as relativistic electrons and quantum memory, may in the future provide the basis for a whole new type of computer.

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Topoisomerase II Structure Suggests Novel DNA Cleavage Mechanism Print
Wednesday, 26 January 2011 00:00

Type II topoisomerases regulate DNA supercoiling and separate interlocked chromosomes. These enzymes are also exploited clinically as targets of antibiotics and anticancer therapeutics. A new molecular model of type II topoisomerase linked to DNA provides evidence for the chemical mechanism of DNA cleavage and rejoining.

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The Surprising Appearance of Nanotubular Fullerene D5h(1)-C90 Print
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 00:00

The previously undetected fullerene D5h(1)-C90 has been isolated and structurally identified by single- crystal x-ray diffraction. The discovery of nanotubular D5h(1)-C90, a fullerene that shares some physical and electrical properties with nanotubes, provides a unique opportunity for cyllindrical fullerenes to serve as molecular models of nanotubes.

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Molecular Measurements of the Deep-Sea Oil Plume in the Gulf of Mexico Print
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 00:00

To study the effects of oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon blowout, researchers collected deep-water samples from across the Gulf of Mexico and analyzied their physical, chemical, and microbiological properties using a variety of techniques, including SR-FTIR.

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Structure of All-Polymer Solar Cells Impedes Efficiency Print
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 00:00

Thin films of semiconducting polymers are a possible alternative to silicon-based solar cells. However, the low rate of energy conversion in model all-polymer solar cells is caused by domains that are too large and interfaces that are not sharp enough.

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Platinum Nanoclusters Out-Perform Single Crystals Print
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 00:00

Under high pressure, platinum surfaces can change their structure dramatically in response to the presence of high-coverage reactants. Researchers used high-pressure scanning tunneling microscopes and ambient-pressure x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to study catalysts' structure and composition under realistic conditions.

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ALS Reveals New State of Matter Print
Wednesday, 13 October 2010 00:00

ALS user groups from Princeton and Stanford have been making waves this past year with several high-profile papers and extensive news coverage of their work on a new state of matter embodied by so-called "topological insulators," materials that conduct electricity only on their surfaces.

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Compositional Variation Within Hybrid Nanostructures Print
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 00:00

Hybrid nanostructures such as nanorods tipped with a catalyst material allow for new or improved function over individual components alone. Until recently, however, it was unclear how the altered growth process affects the desired properties.

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Real-Time Chemical Imaging of Bacterial Biofilm Development Print
Wednesday, 25 August 2010 00:00

Scientists have developed a robust, label-free method to probe the chemical underpinnings of developing bacterial biofilms, coupling infrared rays with the first open–channel microfluidic platform to determine the chemistry that shapes biofilm development. Bacterial biofilms can defend against antagonists, break down recalcitrant materials, and produce biofuels.

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Irradiation Effects on Human Cortical Bone Fracture Behavior Print
Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:00

To better predict fracturing in bone, researchers used synchrotron radiation microtomography to investigate changes in crack path and toughening mechanisms in human cortical bone. When exposed to high levels of radiation, researchers found that bone can lose strength, ductility and toughness at different size scales.

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Investigating Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography Mask Defects Print
Wednesday, 28 July 2010 00:00

Printing computer chips using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography will enable the production of smaller, faster, and cheaper semiconductors. To better detect and characterize imperfections in a special mirror essential to EUV lithography, Berkeley Lab scientists created a unique Fresnel zone-plate microscope.

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Site-Selective Ionization in Nanoclusters Affects Subsequent Fragmentation Print
Wednesday, 30 June 2010 00:00

Understanding charge-transfer processes at the atomic level of nanoscale systems is crucial for designing nanodevices based on nanotubes or two-dimensional graphene sheets. Researchers have learned that charge-transfer and fragmentation dynamics in nanoclusters are influenced by the environment of initially ionized atoms.

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