The behavior of iron at high temperatures and pressures plays an important part in our understanding of Earth's interior. Scientists must quantify how iron's physical and chemical characteristics are both affected by and affect the environment within Earth's mantle and core to make sense of the reactions which molten, subsurface magmas undergo. Researchers using high-brightness x-rays at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source at Argonne monitored the behavior of a model iron silicate melt to investigate how its structure and oxidation state change as a function of the amount of oxygen present. These new results — using melts based on fayalite (Fe2SiO4), the iron-rich end-member of the olivine solid-solution series — reveal contrasting behavior between this melt and more silicic magmas, including basaltic melts.
Peng Zhang and his collaborators study remarkable, tiny self-assembling clusters of gold and protein that glow a bold red. And they’re useful: protein-gold nanoclusters could be used to detect harmful metals in water or to identify cancer cells in the body. “These structures are very exciting but are very, very hard to study. We tried many different tools, but none worked,” says Zhang, a Dalhousie University (Canada) professor. But, synchrotron x-ray absorption spectroscopy, or XAS, done at the Canadian Light Source and its partner facility, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source, provided the necessary insight to identify the surprisingly elegant structure of the glowing protein gold nanoclusters, which might find application in a variety of areas, from environmental remediation to medicine.
A longer-lasting, higher-efficiency platinum catalyst has been developed by a Dalhousie University-led team working at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source, and at the Canadian Light Source, a result with major implications for the automobile industry
New research offers the first complete picture of why a promising approach of stuffing more lithium into battery cathodes leads to their failure. A better understanding of this could be the key to smaller phone batteries and electric cars that drive farther between charges.
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.
As the lithium-ion industry continues to grow, so does the use of cobalt or nickel, straining scarce metal resources. To sustain this continued growth, development of new cathodes with high energy densities made from Earth-abundant elements will be necessary. Users of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source report two new inexpensive lithium-ion cathode materials with extraordinary potential as cathodes in lithium-ion batteries.
Transforming Clean Energy Technology: A breakthrough by researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source and Advanced Light Source could eliminate a critical obstacle from the storage and distribution of solar energy, a discovery that represents a giant stride toward a clean-energy future.
Researchers used the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source to reveal the structural evolution of inorganic cluster growth and crystallization resulting from sequential infiltration synthesis in polymeric templates with potential applications that extend to virtually all technologies in which periodic nanomaterial structures are desirable.
Pivotal Battery Discovery Could Impact Transportation and the Grid: Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have discovered a key reason for the performance degradation of the sodium-ion battery, a promising low-cost alternative to lithium-ion batteries.
A Cheaper and Safer Alternative to Lithium-Ion Batteries: Because the sun isn't always shining and the wind isn't always blowing, solar and wind power both need a way to store the renewable energy they produce. Researchers using high-brightness x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have come up with a far cheaper and safer storage method with a creative approach to battery chemistries.
Increasing the Efficiency of Carbon Conversion: One method of combating climate change would be to capture carbon emissions at the source and convert them into some other material, preferably one with some economic value. Researchers, using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source have shown how a particular catalyst can help the conversion process along.
Fine-Grained Differences in Polycrystalline Nickel-Rich Li-Ion Battery Cathodes: A team of investigators used the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source to study a largely overlooked solution to the problem of thermal instability in Li-ion batteries, involving the precise tailoring of grain microstructure in cathode materials.
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.
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Work is based on research at two U.S. Department of Energy x-ray light sources including the Advanced Photon Source is part of a new study that solves a key, fundamental barrier in the electrochemical water splitting process and demonstrates a new technique to reassemble, revivify, and reuse a catalyst that allows for energy-efficient water splitting.
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Ironing Out Technetium Contamination: Millions of medical imaging procedures each year rely on radioactive technetium. One of its radioisotopes, technetium-99, is very long-lived, poses a risk to the environment, and is a potential health threat. Research based in large part on studies at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source bring us closer to understanding how high concentrations of technetium-99 can be treated by simple iron, which is inexpensive and readily available.
Revealing Platinum's Role in Clean Fuel Conversion: Because platinum is rare and expensive, scientists have been seeking ways to create catalysts that use less of this precious metal. Research at a number of facilities including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source has revealed dynamic, atomic-level details of how an important platinum-based catalyst works in the water gas shift reaction, an important step in producing and purifying hydrogen for multiple applications.
Bromine is Not Useful as Paleo-Diet Indicator: Researchers using high-brightness x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source analyzed bromine in human bones and teeth excavated from Pre-Columbian archeological sites and found that bromine concentrations were close to the lower detection limit, suggesting that bromine is not a good indicator of paleo-human diet.
Peeling Onions to Help Crops Withstand Drought and Disease: Researchers explored how calcium and boron play a beneficial role in strengthening plant cell walls, helping reduce the dehydration that comes with freezing and drought and increasing resistance to pathogens. As it turned out, the perfect plant to test the theory on was onions. The team analyzed onion samples and collected data at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source.
What if a major heat-trapping greenhouse gas could be consumed to produce a valuable chemical that is in short supply? Chemists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have identified a catalyst—a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction—that may be able to do just that. They obtained important information about the catalyst’s properties thanks to studies at the DOE’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.
Solid catalysts are utilized in approximately 9 out of 10 processes in the chemical industry to speed up the manufacture of everything from pharmaceuticals to pesticides. Solid catalysts are easily separated from the reaction mixture once the reaction is complete because all the other materials involved are gas or dissolved in solvent. Unfortunately, solid catalysts have a major drawback: They are less selective than soluble catalysts and so the products they make can contain more side products. A new type of solid catalyst based on platinum promises to change all that. Scientists working at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source characterized the new catalysts, which display better selectivity than the commercially available variety.
Even as our electronic devices become ever more sophisticated and versatile, battery technology remains a stubborn bottleneck, preventing the full realization of promising applications such as electric vehicles and power-grid solar energy storage. Among the limitations of current materials are poor ionic and electron transport qualities. While strategies exist to improve these properties, and hence reduce charging times and enhance storage capacity, they are often expensive, difficult to implement on a large scale, and of only limited effectiveness. An alternative solution is the search for new materials with the desired atomic structures and characteristics. This is the strategy of a group of researchers who, utilizing ultra-bright x-rays from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source, identified and characterized two niobium tungsten oxide materials that demonstrate much faster charging rates and power output than conventional lithium electrodes.
Experimenters used the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source to study an electrolyzer design they developed that is highly effective in using electricity to produce hydrogen in neutral conditions.
Developing hydrogen as a fuel is important for both economic and environmental reasons. This work carried out at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source advances our understanding of the charge-separation dynamics that occur in bio-inspired photocatalytic systems for the hydrogen evolution reaction.
Altering the Fate of Phosphorus Fertilizer in Mildly Calcareous Soils: Crops treated with phosphorous fertilizer raise crop yields and return-on-investment, but it can be the limiting factor in crop growth. Results from controlled laboratory studies in combination with research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source will help researchers and industries revisit the use of soil-test phosphorous methods and develop new fertilizers.
Fine Tuning Single-Atom Catalysts with LCSCs: Single-atom catalysis has offered possibilities to increase catalyst selectivity and efficiency, but stability can be a problem. One possible solution is the use of ligand-coordinated supported catalysts. Researchers using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source demonstrated that the strategy stabilizes the structure and activity of single-atom metal centers and allows them to be tuned and engineered for specific catalytic applications.
Revealing the Source of Degradation in an Advanced Lithium-ion Battery Cathode: The durability of lithium-ion batteries depends highly on the performance of the cathode, the battery's positive electrode. Nanoscale x-ray experiments, carried out at the U.S. Department of Energy’ Advanced Photon Source, are helping scientists develop strategies to mitigate cathode voltage fade, which will result in longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and other power storage applications.
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