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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.



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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Proofreading RNA: Structure of RNA Polymerase II's Backtracked State Print
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 00:00

For genes to be expressed, a complementary strand of RNA must be produced from a DNA template. During this process of transcription, a special class of enzyme called RNA polymerase moves along the DNA template, reading the DNA and producing an RNA complement.

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X-Ray Imaging of the Dynamic Magnetic Vortex Core Deformation Print
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 00:00

Magnetic thin-film nanostructures can exhibit a magnetic vortex state in which the magnetization vectors lie in the film plane and curl around in a closed loop. At the very center of the vortex, a small, stable core exists where the magnetization points either up or down out of the plane.

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Protein Bridges DNA Base and Nucleotide Excision Repair Pathways Print
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 00:00

Alkyltransferase proteins (AGT) protect cells from the biological effects of DNA damage caused by the addition of alkyl groups (alkylation). Alkyltransferase-like proteins (ATLs) can do the same, but they lack the reactive cysteine residue that allows the alkyltransferase function, and the mechanism for cell protection has remained unknown.

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Robust, High-Throughput Analysis of Protein Structures Print
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 00:00

Scientists have developed a fast and efficient way to determine the structure of proteins, shortening a process that often takes years into a matter of days.

 

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