The Advanced Photon Source
a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility

Chemical and Materials Science (XSD-CMS)

Methane in shale gas can be turned into hydrocarbon fuels using an innovative platinum and copper alloy catalyst, according to new research carried out in part at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
Improved catalytic converters for the next generation of ultra-low-emission vehicles could result from an innovative approach demonstrated in research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s APS.
Converting carbon dioxide and water into ethanol efficiently and cheaply could reduce the amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere. Researchers designed a novel catalyst to break down CO2 with maximum efficiency and characterized it using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source and Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory.
12-BM-B, 20-BM-B
A stable, high-performance, dendrite-free aqueous battery using seawater as the electrolyte has been developed with an assist from research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source.
Research Pushes the Auto Industry Closer to Clean Cars Powered by Direct Ethanol Fuel Cells: Alternative-energy research including studies at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source is charting a path toward the mass adoption of clean cars powered by direct-ethanol fuel.
5-BM-D, 12-BM-B
A New Efficient, Abundant and Cost-Effective Catalyst for CO2 to CO Reduction: Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbon monoxide (CO) is useful for creating CO feedstocks and for lessening atmospheric CO2, a potent greenhouse gas. This work obtained at several U.S. Department of Energy user facilities including the Advanced Photon Source is the first to use nickel as a catalyst for the reaction, an advance that will make the process less expensive and more widespread.
Researchers utilizing intense x-ray beams from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) examined the flow of electricity through semiconductors and uncovered another reason these materials seem to lose their ability to carry a charge as they become more densely “doped.” Their results, which may help engineers design faster semiconductors in the future, were published online in the journal ACS Nano.
10-ID-B, 11-ID-D, 12-ID-B
The engineering of materials into ordered structures is always a critical step to transfer and amplify microscopic molecular functionalities to macroscopic material properties. Tremendous efforts have been made to study the relationship between molecules and the corresponding supramolecular structures as the base for further study of structure-property relationship. Giant molecules are a family of macromolecules with well-defined three-dimension structures built up from molecular nanoparticles with precise chemical structures. They typically include folded globular proteins, polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane, fullerene, and polyoxometalates. A multitude of studies have demonstrated that they are a unique and efficient platform upon which to construct various ordered patterns in a desired feature size. Recently, researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have shown that altering the composition and sequence of giant molecules answers some fundamental questions about how giant molecules can be used for the assembly of controllable, well-defined, self-assembled nanostructures.
12-ID-B, 12-ID-C,D
Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory made a surprising discovery about the complexity of the interactions between different components of the electrolyte, one of the challenges that is set out to be studied in the DOE-funded Argonne-led Joint Center for Energy Storage Research program over the next five years.
12-ID-B, 12-ID-C,D
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with colleagues from the Air Force Research Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, have designed and demonstrated a novel type of polymer demonstrating a switchable thermal conductivity controlled by light.
12-ID-B, 12-ID-C,D
Plastic materials that can be switched from their normal character as heat insulating materials to ones that can conduct heat well by simply turning the lights on could have a wide range of applications in engineering.
12-ID-B, 12-ID-C,D
Scientists used the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source to gain insight about potential special properties of Z phase matter and how other, more complex Frank Kasper phases of matter could be constructed.
12-ID-B, 12-ID-C,D
Scientists using research techniques including x-ray studies at the U.S. Department of Energy’s APS have developed tiny sensors that measure oxygen transport in bovine lung tissue, establishing a new framework for observing the elusive connection between lung membranes, oxygen flow, and related disease.
A new study in part carried out at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source demonstrates how a modified 3-D printing process provides a versatile approach to producing multiple colors from a single ink.
How Tiny Compartments Could Have Preceded Cells: One of the most important questions in science is how life began on Earth. Results obtained by research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source could not only shed further light on prebiotic Earth, they could also have implications for the design of electronics and drug delivery systems.
Scientists know that iron hydroxides can capture heavy metals and other toxic materials, and also can be natural semiconductors. While these properties suggest many applications, the full details of how iron hydroxides form on a quartz substrate have been hidden in a “black box” of sorts — until research supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon devised a way to open that box and observe the moment iron hydroxide forms on quartz.
UCLA and UIC Researchers Discover Foam “Fizzics”: Researchers using the APS answered longstanding questions about the underlying processes that determine the life cycle of liquid foams, which could help improve the commercial production and application of foams in a broad range of industries and could lead to improved products.
Giving RNA the Golden Touch by Adding to its Alphabet: Ribonucleic acid is a molecule that is essential in a variety of cellular processes so being able to study its structure and function is key to developing a better understanding of various disease processes and to developing therapeutics. Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source showed that attaching one or two gold nanoparticles onto large RNAs from the dengue virus genome can function as a molecular ruler, data that support a conformational change this viral genome needs to alternate between creating proteins and replicating itself.
A Crystal-Clear Way to Save Time: Researchers collaboratively used the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source in their discovery of a better way to make a new class of soft materials—reducing a process that used to take five months down to three minutes.
Nanostructures Get Complex with Electron Equivalents: Complex crystals that mimic metals—including a structure for which there is no natural equivalent—can be achieved with a new approach to guiding nanoparticle self-assembly, according to research that included experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source.
5-ID-B,C,D, 12-ID-B
Scientists using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have developed a novel means of determining the absorption bandgap inhomogeneity of colloidal lead selenide (PbSe) quantum dots using femtosecond two-dimensional Fourier transform spectroscopy. The simple analysis promises to be applicable to solutions and arrays of many other quantum-confined materials as well.
A team of researchers utilizing two U.S. Department of Energy synchrotron x-ray sources, including the Advanced Photon Source, have shown how to shuttle lithium ions back and forth into the crystal structure of a quantum material, representing a new avenue for research and potential applications in batteries, “smart windows,” and brain-inspired computers containing artificial synapses.
12-ID-C,D, 20-ID-B,C, 33-ID-D,E
Preparing the perfect nanoscale sandwich from oxygen-based ingredients was no picnic. But, with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source, an international team of researchers has finally managed it — ending a nearly 15-year quest to observe a phenomenon that could help power and miniaturize a future generation of electronics.
A team of materials scientists carrying out research at the U,.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have, for the first time, visualized the three-dimensional atomic and electron density profile of the most complex perovskite crystal structure system decoded to date.
12-ID-C,D, 33-ID-D,E
This research demonstrates a powerful new technique for characterizing atomic-scale surface processes and could eventually help scientists optimize crystal growth or develop new types of crystals for electronics and other applications.
The crystalline compound ruthenium dioxide is widely used in industrial processes for catalyzing a chemical reaction that splits molecules of water and releases oxygen, but the exact mechanism that takes place on this material’s surface, and how that reaction is affected by the orientation of the crystal surfaces, had never been determined in detail, until now.
Sniffing Out a Better Covalent Organic Framework: Research on covalent organic frameworks at the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Photon Source will open the way to effective manufacturing techniques to make them commercially viable materials.
5-ID-B,C,D, 12-ID-C,D
A Simple Switch in Lanthanide Separations: In this study, researchers used the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source to investigate the correlation between extraction performance and the structure of the complex fluids and interfaces involved in extraction. Their results can be used to more efficiently separate individual rare-earth elements from each other.
As the techniques of additive manufacturing (AM), more popularly known as “3-D printing,” become ever more versatile and applicable for diverse purposes, they sometimes pose unique challenges that are not present with more traditional manufacturing methods. In additive-manufactured metals and alloys, such problems can result in microstructural defects that lead to reduced strength and stress resistance, an issue commonly addressed by post-build heat treatment. But this approach can also have undesirable side effects. Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology used the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source to examine the AM alloy Inconel 625 (IN625) in an effort to better understand the effects of heat treatment on AM alloy microstructure and phase evolution.
9-ID-B,C, 11-BM-B
In recent work carried out at two U.S. Department of Energy x-ray light sources, including the Advanced Photon Source, a novel tool was developed to obtain impressive spatial resolutions (e.g., 36 nanometers) in intact cells. which may allow for previously inaccessible structures and molecules to be imaged at a high resolution.
9-ID-B,C, 21-ID-D
Homogenized milk, skin cream, and mayonnaise are just a few examples of Pickering emulsions. Researchers used the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source to understand how sound waves overcome the energy barriers to Pickering emulsification, hopefully leading to more efficient manufacturing of drug, food, and chemical emulsions.
Using a variety of research tools, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Advanced Photon Source at Argonne, researchers at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Lab are pursuing technology to create high-contrast, wearable displays that can quickly change color depending on the environment, among other applications.
Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have developed a new method for determining the structure and behavior of a class of soft materials known as weak colloidal gels, opening doors to advances in such areas as drug delivery, food production, water purification, cosmetics, building materials, and nuclear waste disposal.
Making the Most of Metal: The importance of metals in biology is made obvious by the elaborate mechanisms organisms use to regulate metal acquisition, storage, and usage. In a recent study at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source researchers unraveled the complex strategy a eukaryotic green alga employs to deal with times of metal feast and metal famine.
9-ID-B,C, 21-ID-D
Relaxing with Soft Materials: A team of investigators used the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source for their studies of the detailed microscopic dynamics of relaxation in a model soft gel, establishing a previously elusive connection between the rearrangement events occurring on the microscopic scale and the observable stress relaxation behavior on the macroscale.
8-ID-I, 9-ID-B,C
How to 3D-Print One of the Strongest Stainless Steels: Many critical technologies contain a remarkably strong and corrosion-resistant alloy called 17-4 precipitation hardening stainless steel. Based on high-speed data obtained using high-energy x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source researchers identified particular 17-4 steel compositions that, when printed, match the properties of the conventionally manufactured version.
1-ID-B,C,E, 9-ID-B,C
Tuning Color by Changing Temperature: Often, materials that transmit particular colors of light do so because of the periodic arrangement of their crystal structure. Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have shown a new method of controlling color, using a temperature-sensitive gel that is not crystalline, which might lead to new types of color filters, sensors, and displays, as well as to smart windows that block or transmit different wavelengths of light.


The CMS group has operational responsibility for three experiment stations at sector 12 including: two undulator stations (12-ID-B, -C), a spectroscopy and scattering bending magnet beamline (12-BM), and with USAXS at 9-ID-C. As part of the APS Strategic Plan, canted undulators have been installed on 12-ID and 12-ID-B has become a full-time dedicated SAXS beamline and 12-ID-C has capabilities for SAXS, WAXS, ASAXS, GISAXS, AGISAXS, and TRSAXS, ex-situ and in-situ. Time-resolved and anomalous SAXS experiments on photosystems, biopolymers, polymers, ceramics, and catalytic systems are some of the focus areas for 12-ID-B and 12ID-C. 12-BM studies include: spectroscopy of actinides, nanoparticles, nanotubes, in situ electrochemistry, and proteins; scattering studies of growth strains in oxides; and fluorescence. The USAXS instrument is used in materials science research in energy related areas such as: fuel cells, thermal barrier coatings, energy storage materials, hydrogen/gas storage materials, and carbon sequestration materials.  



12-BM is a multi-purpose beamline for spectroscopy (XAS), small angle scattering (SAXS) - wide angle scattering (WAXS). The beamline is designed to provide a versatile platform to cover a wide range of experimental needs; XAS, SAXS/WAXS or even a combination of techniques on the samples under different experimental conditions (heating, cooling, in situ catalytic reaction conditions).


12-ID-B is dedicated to simultaneous SAXS/WAXS measurements with a pair of Pilatus area detectors and grazing incidence SAXS. Typical research areas supported include - solution scattering, structural biology, synthetic polymers, and colloidal particles. Chemical and material sciences studies on nano-structures are of interest. Pilatus detectors (2M and 300K) enable time resolved scattering in 10s of milliseconds.


12-ID-C is used for SAXS studies with both mono and pink beam. The 12-ID-C beamline has capabilities for SAXS, WAXS, ASAXS, GISAXS, AGISAXS, and TRSAXS. Energy range from 4.5 to 36 keV. In situ experiments are facilitated with ancillary equipment including furnaces, gas and liquid flow systems, stop-flow, high pressure, and burners.



9-ID-C is dedicated for ultra-small-angle and small-angle X-ray scattering with a worldwide unique Ultra-Small-Angle X-ray scattering instrument (USAXS) which uses Bonse-Hart geometry and 0.5 – 4 m long pinhole collimated SAXS instrument. Operating range of energies is about 8 – 18keV with flexible beam size – from 0.01 to 2 mm². The USAXS instrument provides characterization of microstructures from 1 nanometer up to 2 micron. Combined with pinhole SAXS instrument the total accessible range of sizes is 2A – 2 micron with dynamic range of intensities about 1011. The typical applications of these instruments are in the areas of materials science, polymers, metals, selected biomaterials, and ceramics.