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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.



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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First Observation of Plasmarons in Graphene Print
Wednesday, 30 June 2010 00:00

An international team of scientists performing angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) experiments at the ALS have found that composite particles called plasmarons play a vital role in determining graphene's properties. This is the first observation of plasmarons' distinct energy bands in graphene, or in any material.

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Mechanical Behavior of Indium Nanostructures Print
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 00:00

Indium is a key material in lead-free solder applications for microelectronics due to its excellent wetting properties, extended ductility, and high electrical conductivity. Researchers have investigated the small-scale mechanics of indium nanostructures.

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Lensless Imaging of Whole Biological Cells with Soft X-Rays Print
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 00:00

Scientists at ALS Beamline 9.0.1 have used x-ray diffraction microscopy to make images of whole yeast cells at the highest resolution—11 to 13 nanometers—ever obtained with this method for biological specimens. Their success indicates that full 3-D tomography of whole cells at equivalent resolution should soon be possible.

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Biomimetic Dye Molecules for Solar Cells Print
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 00:00

The most cost-effective solar cells are not high-end, high-efficiency single-crystal devices, but rather low-end cells based on organic molecules or conducting polymers. Vital information for making organic solar cells more competitive for widespread implementation was obtained using NEXAFS spectroscopy.

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Rotary Firing in Ring-Shaped Protein Explains Unidirectionality Print
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 00:00

To understand how certain hexameric helicases walk with directional polarity along single-stranded nucleic acids, Berkeley researchers used x-ray crystallography at the ALS to solve the structure of a hexameric helicase, the Rho transcription termination factor (from E. coli), bound to both ATP mimics and an RNA substrate.

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Structure Illuminates Mechanism of Fungal Polyketide Cyclization Print
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 00:00

Polyketide ring formation by fungal enzymes called polyketide synthases (PKSs) is mediated by the enzyme's product template (PT) domain. However, the mechanism for aromatic ring formation from a linear intermediate with high fidelity has remained unclear.

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Structures of the Ribosome in Intermediate States of Ratcheting Print
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 00:00

Berkeley researchers have solved structures of the ribosome that provide mechanistic insight into the process of mRNA/tRNA translocation, and contribute to the understanding of how some antibiotics inhibit bacterial protein synthesis by interfering with translocation, hopefully aiding in the design of new antibiotics in this class.

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Electron Correlation in Iron-Based Superconductors Print
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 00:00

With a maximum superconducting transition temperature (so far) of 55 K, it is natural to wonder if studying new materials will help uncover one of the deepest mysteries in modern physics—the mechanism of superconductivity in the copper-based "high-temperature superconductors."

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Imaging Antifungal Drug Molecules in Action using Soft X-Ray Tomography Print
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 00:00

There is a pressing need to develop new types of drugs capable of circumventing yeast drug-resistance mechanisms. To this end Stanford, University of California, San Francisco and LBNL researchers have used soft x-ray tomography to image the 3-D structure of both benign and infectious C. albicans yeast.

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A New Route to Nano Self-Assembly Print
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 00:00

Researchers have found a way to induce nanoparticles to assemble themselves into complex arrays. By adding specific types of small molecules to mixtures of nanoparticles and polymers, they were able to direct the self-assembly of nanoparticles into arrays of one, two, and even three dimensions with no chemical modification.

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Structures for Three Membrane Transport Proteins Yield Functional Insights Print
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 00:00

Membrane transport proteins are the gatekeepers that control contact with the world outside the cell by catalyzing the flow of ions and molecules across cell membranes. Malfunctioning transport proteins can lead to cancer, inflammatory, and neurological diseases.

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Proton Channel Orientation in Block-Copolymer Electrolyte Membranes Print
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 00:00

Fuel cells have the potential to provide power for a wide variety of applications ranging from electronic devices to transportation vehicles. Cells operating with H2 and air as inputs and electric power and water as the only outputs are of particular interest because of their ability to produce power without degrading the environment.

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Using Light to Control How X Rays Interact with Matter Print
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 00:00

A Berkeley Lab–Argonne National Laboratory group has now used powerful visible-light lasers to render a nominally opaque material transparent to x rays. While x-ray transparency will have immediate applications at x-ray light sources, the important result is that the findings lay a foundation for a broader spectrum of applications.

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