Science and Research Highlights

New Look at Deep Mantle Discontinuity

New Look at Deep Mantle Discontinuity

December 14, 2009

Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne have carried out experiments at high temperature and pressure on compositions representative of the Earth’s mantle, shedding new light on the phase transition thought to be responsible for a seismic discontinuity observed above the Earth’s core–mantle boundary.
Searching for Next-Generation Electronic Materials

Searching for Next-Generation Electronic Materials

December 14, 2009

A new class of layered oxide materials discovered thanks to research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory offers scientists unprecedented opportunities for creating the next generation of electronic devices.
“Temple of the Mind” Unlocked

“Temple of the Mind” Unlocked

December 4, 2009

The full structure of a fiendishly complicated and important brain protein has been determined by researchers using two U.S. Department of Energy x-ray light sources, potentially enabling the development of new treatments for a wealth of neurological disorders.
A Key to Drought Resistant Crops

A Key to Drought Resistant Crops

December 4, 2009

Research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon could help engineer crops that thrive in harsh environments around the world and combat global food shortages, and could also have implications for stress disorders in humans.
Secrets of the Lacewing’s Silk

Secrets of the Lacewing’s Silk

November 2, 2009

Scientists have completed studies that confirm the elegant and unique structure of the silken egg stalk of the green lacewing (Chrysopidae), thanks to high-brightness x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne. The information they obtained suggests that lacewing silk has both reasonable tensile strength and very high extensibility and may have potential value as a biomaterial.
The Structure of the Cell Nucleus “Gatekeeper”

The Structure of the Cell Nucleus “Gatekeeper”

October 27, 2009

Biologists using an x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne have worked out a rudimentary architectural plan for the nuclear pore complex, the gatekeeper of the cell's nucleus. Their finding reveals a remarkable evolutionary story dating back more than one billion years.
The Power of Proteins: Prion Diseases Demystified

The Power of Proteins: Prion Diseases Demystified

October 16, 2009

It is hard to believe that a single protein can be responsible for the damage inflicted by diseases such as Mad Cow Disease. Yet the implicated protein, known as a prion, can initiate and propagate a disease cycle just by changing its shape. Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne have achieved a significant advance in our understanding of the infectious power of the prion protein.
Bacterium Helps in the Formation of Gold

Bacterium Helps in the Formation of Gold

October 13, 2009

Scientists using two U.S. Department of Energy x-ray light sources and a sister facility in France have found that the bacterium Cupriavidus metallidurans catalyses the biomineralisation of gold by transforming toxic gold compounds to their metallic form using active cellular mechanism, the first direct evidence that bacteria are actively involved in the cycling of rare and precious metals.
Creating a Precise Atomic-Scale Map of Quantum Dots

Creating a Precise Atomic-Scale Map of Quantum Dots

October 9, 2009

With a big assist from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne, physicists have created an atomic-scale map of quantum dots with unprecedented precision, a major step toward the goal of producing “designer dots” that can be tailored for specific applications.
Getting to the Roots of Lethal Hairs

Getting to the Roots of Lethal Hairs

October 9, 2009

Fine metal hairs—also called metal whiskers—on tin-plated copper cause short circuits in electronic components. An international team of researchers used the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne to help them understand why the whiskers grow.
Stressing Out the Twins in Magnesium

Stressing Out the Twins in Magnesium

October 6, 2009

The way a material reacts under stress is a question of critical relevance to it’s strength and versatility for various uses. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne helped researchers pioneer a method of using three-dimensional x-ray diffraction to study the twinning process in low-symmetry materials and its evolution in situ on the level of individual grains, while also allowing the full stress tensor to be measured.
Size-Related Behavior of Anatase Nanocrystals under Extreme Pressure

Size-Related Behavior of Anatase Nanocrystals under Extreme Pressure

September 27, 2009

From the near vacuum of outer space to the intense pressure at a planet’s core, matter behaves differently at different levels of stress. Researchers using an x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne have discovered an intriguing, size-related quirk in the behavior of nanosized particles of one phase of titanium dioxide at very high pressures. The combination of techniques used in this study paves the way for exploration of the behavior of other nanochemical systems under high pressure.
Boron-Based Compounds Trick a Biomedical Protein

Boron-Based Compounds Trick a Biomedical Protein

September 15, 2009

Chemists and biologists using two U.S. Department of Energy research facilities have successfully demonstrated that specially synthesized boron compounds are readily accepted in biologically active enzymes, a move that, they say, is a proof of concept that could lead to new drug design strategies.
A Targeted Cancer Treatment using Nanomaterials

A Targeted Cancer Treatment using Nanomaterials

August 27, 2009

Thousands of people die from malignant brain tumors every year, and the tumors are resistant to conventional therapies. Now, scientists from the Center for Nanoscale Materials, Advanced Photon Source, and Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory; and the University of Chicago's Brain Tumor Center have developed a way to target brain cancer cells that may eventually provide an alternative form of therapy that does not affect normal living tissue.
When Roots Follow the Path of Least Resistance

When Roots Follow the Path of Least Resistance

August 18, 2009

Plant roots follow old root channels in hostile soils for access to water and nutrients. Science knows about the chemical composition of the soil that surrounds plant roots versus the soil matrix away from the roots. What is not known is how long these differences persist in a root channel after the old root decays. Using the Argonne Advanced Photon Source, researchers have unearthed information that can be used to better manage soils and crops in hostile environments, such as low-rainfall areas.
Perfecting Catalytic Arrays

Perfecting Catalytic Arrays

August 13, 2009

Catalysts speed up chemical reactions and remain largely unchanged themselves at the end of the process. This apparently simple statement harbors a chemical secret: Catalysts are much more complicated than that. Work carried out at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source, Center for Nanoscale Materials, and Electron Microscopy Center for Materials Research could improve our understanding of at least one class of industrially important catalyst: metal nanoparticle catalysts.
A Stable Open Framework with Wide Open Spaces

A Stable Open Framework with Wide Open Spaces

August 11, 2009

Porous materials frameworks with open structures are potentially useful for a wide range of applications, such as gas storage, catalysis, and drug delivery. One such class is metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). But the more porous these frameworks are, the more fragile they tend to become. Researchers using the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne have made a MOF that is remarkably open but also stable. This new synthetic strategy may serve as a general approach toward stable MOFs with even higher surface areas, eventually leading to even greater practical applications.
Pumping Through the Middle Crust

Pumping Through the Middle Crust

July 29, 2009

A team of geologists and geophysicists using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source has shed light on a fluid transfer in the middle continental crust, a phenomenon that was formerly poorly understood. Their work could lead to a fuller understanding of fluid migration through rock, with possible wide application in deciphering important geological processes including earthquakes.
Looking for Ways to Improve Vaccines Against the Deadly Rotavirus

Looking for Ways to Improve Vaccines Against the Deadly Rotavirus

June 16, 2009

The first detailed molecular snapshots of a deadly gastrointestinal virus caught in the grasp of an immune system molecule with the capacity to inactivate it could help scientists design a more effective vaccine against rotavirus, which kills more than 500,000 children worldwide each year. The discovery was made by researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
A “Colossal” Magnetic Effect under Pressure

A “Colossal” Magnetic Effect under Pressure

June 12, 2009

“Giant” and “colossal” aren’t the words that come to mind when thinking about MP3 players or laptops. But we can store and access ever-increasing amounts of data on ever-smaller devices because of giant magnetoresistance. Now researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory are delving into the forces colossal magnetoresistance, which is up to a thousand times more powerful than GMR and could trigger another revolution in computing technology.
Using High Pressure to Reveal Quantum Criticality in an Elemental Antiferromagnet

Using High Pressure to Reveal Quantum Criticality in an Elemental Antiferromagnet

May 21, 2009

New research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source is a milestone in the study of emergent magnetism and quantum criticality. It opens new possibilities for high-pressure studies of fundamental magnetism and technologically important correlated electron materials.
Nano Changes Have Macro Importance for a Key Electronics Material

Nano Changes Have Macro Importance for a Key Electronics Material

April 23, 2009

Combining the results from several powerful techniques for studying materials structure at the nanoscale, including work at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, researchers believe they have settled a long-standing debate over the source of the unique electronic properties of a material with potentially great importance for wireless communications.
Squeezing an Old Material Could Yield “Instant-On” Memory

Squeezing an Old Material Could Yield “Instant-On” Memory

April 21, 2009

The technology for storing electronic information has been a major force in the electronics industry for decades. Improving this technology to keep up with new requirements and trends has been an economic driver for as long as the technology has been around. Now, low-power, high-efficiency electronic memory could be the result of research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
A Metal That Becomes Transparent under Pressure

A Metal That Becomes Transparent under Pressure

April 20, 2009

Sodium might appear to be an unassuming member of the Periodic Table of Elements, but scientists using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory have discovered that sodium displays a unique property by turning transparent when pressure is applied. This result has important implications for understanding highly compressed matter, in particular inside stars and giant planets.
Under Pressure, Atoms Make Unlikely Alloys

Under Pressure, Atoms Make Unlikely Alloys

March 12, 2009

Ever since the Bronze Age, humans have experimented with combining different metals to create alloys having properties superior to either metal alone. But not all metals readily form alloys. Researchers using high-brilliance x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have discovered that previously impossible alloys can be created by subjecting atoms to high pressure―opening possibilities for new materials in the future.
Slowing Down Near the Glass Transition

Slowing Down Near the Glass Transition

March 5, 2009

Researchers using an x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have gained new information on how the motions of entangled polymer chains in a thin liquid film freeze as the film approaches the temperature at which the liquid goes into a glassy state.
The Crystal Structure of a Meta-stable Intermediate Particle in Virus Assembly

The Crystal Structure of a Meta-stable Intermediate Particle in Virus Assembly

March 3, 2009

A snapshot of the elegant dance performed by viral proteins as they create the infectious structure that causes all manner of misery and disease has been captured by scientists using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. Their work may help drug developers pinpoint attack sites for pharmaceuticals, and could have an impact on the emerging field of medical nanotechnology.
New Light on Improving Engine Efficiencies

New Light on Improving Engine Efficiencies

March 3, 2009

Power plants based on turbine engines burning natural gas are a key component of future energy grids in the U.S. and other nations. A team of researchers applied the high-brightness x-ray beams from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory to finding ways of incorporating new materials for this promising energy source.
Increasing Magnetic Response of Ferromagnetic Semiconductors under High Pressure

Increasing Magnetic Response of Ferromagnetic Semiconductors under High Pressure

February 26, 2009

Scientists using the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Photon Source have manipulated electron mobility and pinpointed the mechanism controlling the strength of magnetic interactions in europium oxide and, hence, the material's magnetic ordering temperature.
Better Switching Through Chemistry in Thin Ferroelectrics

Better Switching Through Chemistry in Thin Ferroelectrics

February 24, 2009

Because the atomic structure and polarity of ferroelectric materials respond dramatically to an applied electric field, they have found many applications. But what if there were another way to make ferroelectric materials do their thing—not electrically, but through another mechanism? Experimenters using an x-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have managed to do just that, proving that not just electricity but also a little bit of chemistry can flip the structure and thus the polarity of a ferroelectric
First Molecular-Level Enzyme Images Could Improve Breast-Cancer Therapy

First Molecular-Level Enzyme Images Could Improve Breast-Cancer Therapy

January 22, 2009

Like watchmakers prying open a complicated timepiece, researchers are using x-ray beams from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source, and the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, to peer into the molecular works of an enzyme that has long defied investigation. What they are discovering may one day make it possible to design safer, more effective cancer-fighting drugs.