Science and Research Highlights

New Physics in Iridium Compounds

New Physics in Iridium Compounds

December 10, 2012

Unraveling the complexities of spin-orbital coupling could someday lead to new high-temperature superconductors and workable quantum computers via an elusive phase of matter called a “quantum spin liquid.” Two groups of researchers utilizing x-ray beamlines at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon are delving into the new physics required to develop just such a material.
The Self-Improvement of Lithium-Ion Batteries

The Self-Improvement of Lithium-Ion Batteries

November 30, 2012

The key to developing a better and more efficient battery technology may lie in designing and building batteries not from the top down, but from the bottom up — beginning at the nanoscale. A team of researchers has taken such an approach by developing titanium dioxide (TiO2) electrodes that can actually improve their own electrochemical performance as they are used.
Architecture and Viral Disease

Architecture and Viral Disease

November 20, 2012

The human enterovirus 71 (or EV71) can, in infants and young children, cause polio-like paralysis and fatal encephalitis. The virus is now considered an emerging threat to public health. By unveiling the crystal structure of EV71, researchers working at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have taken the essential first step in finding ways to prevent the virus from creating fatal disease, providing strong impetus for therapeutics and drug design to prevent and cure EV71 infection.
RNA Folding: A Little Cooperation Goes a Long Way

RNA Folding: A Little Cooperation Goes a Long Way

November 19, 2012

The nucleic acid RNA is an essential part of the critical process by which the cells in our bodies manufacture proteins. Utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source, researchers investigated the unique folding behavior of ribozyme, which is an RNA that acts as a catalyst. Their work provides a path for predicting the structures of newly discovered noncoding RNAs, and will ultimately enhance understanding of how noncoding RNAs take on important biological functions.
A New Phase in Cellular Communication

A New Phase in Cellular Communication

November 15, 2012

In many physical processes, substances undergo phase transitions, where they are transformed from one state (solid, liquid, or gas) to another. Utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source, researchers investigated interactions between engineered multivalent substances. Understanding this research will be important in guiding future studies to further evaluate the role of phase transitions in biological systems.
Engineering Thin-Film Oxide Interfaces

Engineering Thin-Film Oxide Interfaces

November 12, 2012

Research at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source provides new insights about a material that might form the basis for an alternative to conventional silicon-based semiconductor technology.
Novel Materials Become Multifunctional at the Ultimate Quantum Limit

Novel Materials Become Multifunctional at the Ultimate Quantum Limit

November 9, 2012

Research at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source has shown that by using complex oxides with correlated electrons confined to quantum well geometry, a new dimension can be added to the mix, moving us closer to everyday electronics that become smaller and faster than they are today.
Outsmarting Flu Viruses

Outsmarting Flu Viruses

October 9, 2012

A method for neutralizing influenza B viruses has been discovered by researchers working at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source and two other U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science synchrotron light sources. Their breakthrough results pave the way for development of a universal vaccine for all influenza A and B viruses.
How Lead-Free Solder (Mis)Behaves under Stress

How Lead-Free Solder (Mis)Behaves under Stress

October 10, 2012

The reliability and longevity of electronics is critical to our world that is dependent upon Internet and telecommunications technology. Research at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon is bringing new information about thermal fatigue in environmentally friendly, lead-free solder joints. These insights bring scientists a step closer to developing useful models for making reliability predictions about solder-joint failure in this important new material.
Dynamics of Polymer Chains Atop Different Materials

Dynamics of Polymer Chains Atop Different Materials

September 24, 2012

Technologies such as microelectronics and lithography require nanoscale polymer films that sit on other materials. An understanding of the interplay between the dynamics of thin film and underlying substrate is crucial in determining the appropriate materials to be utilized for new and improved applications. Experiments at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source provide important new insights about thin polymer films on various substrates.
Priming the Pump in the Fight against Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Priming the Pump in the Fight against Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

September 11, 2012

Drug resistance has become an increasing problem in the treatment of tuberculosis, posing a significant challenge for combating a disease that has been a leading cause of death worldwide for more than 5,000 years. Utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source, researchers unlocked the secrets of a protein that plays an important role in tuberculosis’s multidrug resistance, helping guide future research toward new ways of controlling this disease.
The Ties that Bind Metals to Proteins

The Ties that Bind Metals to Proteins

September 7, 2012

Metals such as copper, zinc, and iron are important nutrients and are technologically useful. More than one-third of all proteins are thought to bind metals, so knowing which metals are bound and how that binding changes in response to the environment could have big implications. Researchers working at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source developed a new experimental approach that helps researchers identify which proteins bind metals and what roles they play in life.
A Novel Nanobio Catalyst for Biofuels

A Novel Nanobio Catalyst for Biofuels

August 27, 2012

Researchers working at U.S. Department of Energy facilities at Argonne National Laboratory including the Advanced Photon Source, have synthesized and characterized monodisperse gold-core silver-shell nanoparticles using a bio-template that has potential as a water soluble catalyst for creating fuel from biomass such as dead trees, branches and tree stumps, yard clippings, wood chips, and even municipal solid waste.
Multiple Crystal Cavities for Unlimited X-ray Energy Resolution and Coherence

Multiple Crystal Cavities for Unlimited X-ray Energy Resolution and Coherence

August 21, 2012

Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Nanjing University have demonstrated the principles of a novel and advanced design of x-ray Fabry-Perot resonators, which are shown illustrated to have extremely high finesse, sharp tails, and ultrahigh contrast and can achieve unprecedented high resolution and (temporal) coherence, for use with hard x-rays at large incidence angles.
An Intriguing Twist in the Structure of a Cobalt Oxide Catalyst

An Intriguing Twist in the Structure of a Cobalt Oxide Catalyst

August 14, 2012

Hydrogen is a clean fuel, but how can we generate hydrogen in large quantities and in a “green” fashion? One way is biological photosynthesis, which includes an efficient reaction step that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen with the help of certain catalysts. Working at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, a team of Argonne scientists has determined the structure of one such catalyst, a complex cobalt oxide.
Breaking Records in Neurological Microradiology

Breaking Records in Neurological Microradiology

August 9, 2012

New techniques for imaging with unprecedented detail and resolution the complex, tree-like branching nature of neuronal networks have been developed by researchers utilizing by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source, opening the door to three-dimensional tomographic reconstructions, a vital tool for studying the brain and nervous system.
Exposing Valence-Bond Model Inadequacies

Exposing Valence-Bond Model Inadequacies

August 2, 2012

Nature makes science fun by never failing to surprise. The bond-valence model has for years been used to relate the number of nearest neighbors of the central atom of a molecule or crystal and the interatomic distances between the atoms to the valence state. Now research at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science′s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory shows that gaining valence information requires a lot more work when it comes to mixed-valence systems.
Plants’ Rapid Response System Revealed

Plants’ Rapid Response System Revealed

July 6, 2012

The workings of a molecular switch that activates plant hormones, tags them for storage, or marks them for destruction have been revealed by an international collaboration of researchers carrying out experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
Rewriting the Organofluorine Playbook

Rewriting the Organofluorine Playbook

June 25, 2012

The field of organofluorine chemistry has been shaken up by the findings of a research team whose experiments at two U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science facilities including the Advanced Photon Source are challenging some long-held theoretical assumptions.
Computer-Designed Proteins to Disarm a Variety of Flu Viruses

Computer-Designed Proteins to Disarm a Variety of Flu Viruses

June 18, 2012

Proteins that are found in nature, but do not normally bind the influenza virus, can be engineered to act as broad-spectrum antiviral agents against a variety of flu virus strains, including the H1N1 pandemic influenza, according to research at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
Driving Membrane Curvature

Driving Membrane Curvature

June 14, 2012

In biological systems, membranes are as important as water. They form the barrier between our cells, where we perform the chemical reactions of life, and the outside environment. New research at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory promises to change the way we think about lipid-protein interactions and to open new avenues for the study of important membrane-driven processes.
Unlocking the Nanoscale Secrets of Bird-Feather Colors

Unlocking the Nanoscale Secrets of Bird-Feather Colors

May 18, 2012

What makes bird feathers so colorful? Research at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source reveals the complex three-dimensional nanostructures responsible for non-iridescent colors in bird feathers. These nanostructures could serve as a source of new photonic devices such as remote controls, optical data recorders, and much more.
An Unlikely Route to Ferroelectricity

An Unlikely Route to Ferroelectricity

May 16, 2012

Multiferroics have attracted increased interest due to their potential use in technologies such as improved electronic memory chips and highly sensitive magnetic field sensors. Researchers utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne have unmasked the exact source of the purported ferroelectric behavior in a multiferroic material of great technological interest, overturning the conventional wisdom.
How to Make a Splash

How to Make a Splash

May 8, 2012

A team of physicists employed high-energy x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory to penetrate the everyday mystery of a splash, revealing previously hidden structures and dynamics.
Pressure-Tuning the Quantum Phase Transition in a Model 2-D Magnet

Pressure-Tuning the Quantum Phase Transition in a Model 2-D Magnet

April 11, 2012

Researchers utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory used high-resolution x-ray scattering to demonstrate how pressure can be used to dial-in different magnetic states in a two-dimensional magnetic material, offering new insights into a possible path to undiscovered exotic materials with a range of controllable properties.
Reappearing Superconductivity Surprises Scientists

Reappearing Superconductivity Surprises Scientists

February 24, 2012

Researchers working at two synchrotron light sources, including the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory have demonstrated unexpected superconductivity in a type of compounds called iron selenium chalcogenides.
Manipulating Genes with Hidden TALENs

Manipulating Genes with Hidden TALENs

February 10, 2012

A better understanding of gene function in model plant and animal systems could be used to develop useful traits in livestock and crop plants, and might someday lead to developments in stem cell research and new treatments for human genetic disorders. Those are the projected outcomes of experiments carried out at two U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science synchrotron x-ray facilities, including the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
A New Discovery Answers an Old Question

A New Discovery Answers an Old Question

January 25, 2012

Understanding the high-pressure behavior of the transition-metal monoxide FeO is important for both solid-state physics and Earth science. Despite considerable study over the past 30 years, the origin of the well-known and important ferroic transition has been not well understood. Now the first imaging of this transition has been reported by researchers utilizing the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
Peering into the Interfaces of Nanoscale Polymeric Materials

Peering into the Interfaces of Nanoscale Polymeric Materials

January 6, 2012

The development of polymer nanostructures and nanoscale devices for a wide variety of applications could emerge from new information about the interplay between nanoscale interfaces in polymeric materials, thanks to research carried out at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
Ironing Out the Details of the Earth's Core

Ironing Out the Details of the Earth's Core

January 3, 2012

The highest-pressure vibrational spectrum of iron has been obtained by researchers working at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, providing important new clues to the behavior of iron in the Earth’s core.