Science & Research Highlights 2006

Photo: The x-ray structure of the effector domain of influenza virus NS1 protein.

A Bird Flu Protein Link to Virulence

DECEMBER 12, 2006

New information obtained at an APS beamline represents great progress in understanding a particular virus strain that is responsible for lethal outbreaks of bird flu.
Photo: Schematic of x-ray reflection microscopy.

Seeing the Smallest Steps

DECEMBER 5, 2006

Understanding the processes that operate at molecular interfaces is of critical importance in areas ranging from geochemistry to physics, but observing phenomena at such tiny scales isn't easy. A team of researchers has found a solution by developing a novel form of x-ray microscopy.
Photo: Microphotograph of Diamond Anvil cell sample.

A New Alloy Comes into View

NOVEMBER 20, 2006

Researchers using the APS to study H2O at high pressure instead discovered a new O2-H2 compound.
Photo: High-Speed Indutrial Spray Nozzle.

Beneath the Surface of High-Speed Industrial Sprays

OCTOBER 13, 2006

Researchers using the APS have captured the first images of the complex spray just millimeters from a high-pressure industrial spray nozzle, gaining information that is an important first step down the road toward improved industrial spray systems.
Structure of human insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) in complex with beta-amyloid.

Clues to the Treatment of Diabetes and Alzheimer's

OCTOBER 12, 2006

Researchers using Argonne and University of Chicago beamlines at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have deciphered the 3-D structure of an enzyme that is a promising target for new drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease and diabetes.
Photo: Cartoon of the gels under shear.

Watching Gels Get the Stress Out


The macroscopic flow properties of a wide assortment of disordered soft materials can change dramatically from fluid-like to solid-like with seemingly subtle changes in microscopic characteristics. Research at Advanced Photon Source is providing insights to the reasons glass ages, and could also help improve technologies such as paints, foods, and personal-care products.
Photo: Soluble uranium has been converted to solid uraninite.

Uranium “Pearls” Before Slime

AUGUST 29, 2006

Figuring out how bacteria chemically modify and neutralize toxic metals without apparent harm to themselves could have an important impact on the bioremediation of radionuclide-contaminated environments. For some time, scientists have wondered how on earth these microbes do it. Brilliant x-ray beams from the Advanced Photon Source have helped researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory move closer to an answer.
Photo: Image of brain structure.

A 3-D Link between Antibiotic Resistance and Brain Disease

AUGUST 29, 2006

What makes certain types of bacteria resistant to a specific antibiotic? While looking for answers to that question, researchers using three beamlines at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne have gained insights into the cause of a rare form of brain degeneration among children.

Photo: TEM image of deformed copper single crystal.

Uncovering Secrets of the Strength of Materials

AUGUST 3, 2006

The application of intense submicron-sized x-ray beams at the Advanced Photon Source has led to a discovery that has profound implications for understanding the mechanical strength and behavior of metals.
Photo: Topographical confocal projections of cells.

Live from Outer Space: How Cells Influence the Growth of Nanostructures

AUGUST 1, 2006

Far above Earth, single-cell creatures embedded in nanostructures ride on the International Space Station to test whether nanostructures whose formations were directed by single cells can create secure homes for their occupants even in outer space.
Photo: DVD.

Fast-forward to Better DVDs?

JULY 31, 2006

Digital video disc (DVD) technology isn’t new, but that doesn’t mean we know everything about the way these devices store our movies and data. Research carried out at the Advanced Photon Source offers new insights into the way this mature technology works and could lead to advances in data storage as well as within the computer industry as a whole.
Photo: Periodically ordered gold and silicon atoms.

A Solid-like Crystal Structure on the Surface of a Liquid Alloy

JULY 17, 2006

A gold-silicon alloy useful in nanotechnology exhibits unexpected and unusual liquid-like structures at its surface, a team of researchers has learned from experiments carried out at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source.
Photo: Ion Hydration Structures.

Better Water through Ion Interactions?

JULY 14, 2006

Scientists using the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory have discovered surprising information about the way ions interact with mineral surfaces in water, opening the door to new knowledge on how contaminants travel in the environment and impact water quality.
X-ray topograph of silicon wafer.

Stress Management: Revealing Defects in Thin Silicon Films

JULY 14, 2006

A sensitive x-ray diffraction imaging technique recently tested at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source can help the manufacturers of strained-silicon films avoid the bunching up of crystal defects caused by the manufacturing process.
X-ray fluorescence image of an melanoma cell.

Tracking the Intractability of Melanomas

JULY 13, 2006

Important new information about the way melanoma cancer cells fight for their lives has been uncovered by researchers from the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. This discovery could help improve current therapeutic approaches to stopping this pernicious disease.
Photo: Lead nanocrystal.

Mapping the Interior of Nanocrystals in Depth

JULY 12, 2006

Complex, three-dimensional images of the interior of a nanocrystal have, for the first time, been obtained by researchers at the APS employing a new technique: inversion of coherent x-ray diffraction patterns.
Photo: Hcp1 crystal structure.

Protein Structure May Lead to Treatment for Infection Targeting Cystic Fibrosis Patients

JUNE 13, 2006

Researchers using the Structural Biology Center 19-ID beamline at the APS have determined the structure of a key protein believed to play a role in a deadly infection that afflicts the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis. This finding may lead to a new drug to treat the bacterial infection.
Photo: Collagen molecule.

What Connects Rat Tails to Cancer and Heart Disease?

MAY 23, 2006

Innovative synchrotron x-ray research techniques used at APS beamlines have yielded new information on the molecular structure of collagen. Because this ubiquitous protein is involved in cancer and heart disease, the data obtained in this study may help in the fight against these deadly ailments.
Photo: High-resolution pure copper sample.

How Metals Deform

MAY 15, 2006

Due to their unique structural properties, metals are ubiquitous in every-day life and are of central importance for competitive industries such as aviation and automobile manufacturing. Researchers using XOR beamline 1-ID have collected data that provide new insights into the ways metals deform, and establish decisive tests of advanced models of the strength of metals.
Figure: Localized sound modes in a uranium single crystal.

Uranium Atoms Don't Share the Vibe

APRIL 18, 2006

In the 31 March Physical Review Letters, researchers using the XOR 3-ID-C beamline at the APS report a surprising effect in a crystalline solid: a few-atom-wide vibration that refuses to spread through the material. Although predicted 20 years ago, the effect has never been conclusively seen in a three-dimensional crystal. The result seems to demonstrate the surprising ability of a uniform material to concentrate energy spontaneously.
Photo: Cross Section Cut from a Multilayer Wafer

Sharper Focusing of Hard X-rays

APRIL 14, 2006

Sharper focusing of hard x-rays has been achieved with a device developed at the Advanced Photon Source.
Photo: ChemMatCARS Liquid Scattering Instrument

Ion Distributions Near a Liquid-Liquid Interface

APRIL 13, 2006

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago; Northern Illinois University; the University of California, Santa Cruz; and ChemMatCARS (sector 15 at the APS) used x-ray reflectivity from ion distributions at the liquid-liquid interface to provide strong evidence that the interfacial structure of a liquid alters the ion distributions near a charged interface, contrary to earlier theories about ions at charged surfaces.
Figure: RNR Molecule

Scientists' Discovery at APS Can Aid Cancer Treatment

APRIL 13, 2006

University of Tennessee scientists using the Industrial Macromolecular Crystallography Association and BioCARS beamlines at the APS have made a molecular discovery that can greatly improve the medicines used to treat cancer.
Nobel laureates and discoverers of the transistor. Inset: Atomic stacking sequence and arrangement of atoms at the YBCO/LCMO interface.

At the Boundary between Superconducting and Magnetic Oxides

APRIL 12, 2006

The transistor, which shaped so much of our modern technology and economics, grew out of scientists’ desire to gain a greater understanding of the interfaces between different materials. In the same way, today’s materials scientists seek to expand our understanding of complex oxides by creating new states at the interface of two materials.
Photo: SEM Image of platinum nitride crystals

Tougher Electronic Components?

MARCH 13, 2006

Like modern-day alchemists, materials scientists often turn unassuming substances into desirable ones. But instead of working metal into gold, they create strange new compounds that could make the electronic components of the future smaller, faster, and more durable. Researchers from the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Atomic Weapons Establishment in England, using an HP-CAT beamline at the APS, have made two durable compounds possessing traits that could prove quite valuable to industry.
Photo: Vortex Dynamics Image

Into the Vortex: Dynamics in Nanoscale Materials

FEBRUARY 20, 2006

Micron and nanosized magnets are of great interest for their potential applications in new electronic devices, such as magnetic random access memories. Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory have made some surprising discoveries about the behavior of these materials that may lead to a greater understanding of complex materials on the nanoscale.

Imaging Beyond Optics

FEBRUARY 7, 2006

Important new information on methods for imaging the complex wave fields at the focus of x-ray zone plates without the need for conventional x-ray lenses has been obtained by researchers using the XOR beamline 2-ID at the Advanced Photon Source. The report of this discovery is the cover article for the February 2006 issue of Nature Physics.
Photo: Structural changes in the paramyxovirus F protein that enable viral infection of cells.

The Molecular Structure of a Key Viral Protein

JANUARY 27, 2006

Scientists from Northwestern University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, using the sector 32 and sector 5 beamlines at the Advanced Photon Source and beamlines at the Advanced Light Source, have determined the molecular structure of a viral protein that is part of a family of viruses that causes everything from pneumonia, croup and bronchiolitis to cold-like illness and is responsible for many hospitalizations and deaths each year. Knowing the structure of this protein will aid in understanding all members of the virus family, which are among the most significant human and animal pathogens, causing both respiratory and systemic disease.
A slide from the sand granular jet movie.

A Strange, New Fluid-like State of Matter

JANUARY 18, 2006

High-speed radiography images of a sand jet created by dropping a marble into loose sand show that the sand briefly behaves like a special type of dense fluid. The images were captured by scientists from The University of Chicago and Universidad de Chile using the GSECARS 13-BM-D beamline at the APS. As noted on the researchers’ Web site, “Understanding the peculiar behavior of granular materials is vital for predicting and controlling them under a variety of industrial, civil engineering, and scientific conditions.”
See Royer et al., Nature Physics 1(3), 164 (December 2005).

To watch a (70-MB) movie (at the Jaeger group Web site) showing how the shape and structure of a granular jet depends on the ambient air pressure, CLICK HERE.

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