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The Lead

Ultra-stable JILA microscopy technique tracks tiny objects for hours

July 2, 2015 8:44 am | by NIST | News | Comments

​JILA researchers have designed a microscope instrument so stable that it can accurately measure the 3D movement of individual molecules over many hours--hundreds of times longer than the current limit measured in seconds.

NASA missions monitor a waking black hole

July 1, 2015 7:00 am | by NASA | News | Comments

NASA's Swift satellite detected a rising tide of high-energy X-rays from the constellation...

Scientists propose new model of mysterious barrier to fusion known as the 'density limit'

July 1, 2015 7:00 am | by Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have...

Sandia's Z machine receives funding aimed at fusion energy

June 30, 2015 8:35 am | by DOE, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

A two-year, $3.8 million award has been received by Sandia National Laboratories and the...

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Tomorrow will be one second longer

June 29, 2015 8:39 am | News | Comments

The day will officially be a bit longer than usual on Tuesday, June 30, 2015, because an extra second, or "leap" second, will be added.

Opening a new route to photonics

June 29, 2015 8:35 am | News | Comments

A new route to ultrahigh density, ultracompact integrated photonic circuitry has been discovered by researchers. The Berkeley Lab team has developed a technique for effectively controlling pulses of light in closely packed nanoscale waveguides, an essential requirement for high-performance optical communications and chip-scale quantum computing.

Helium “balloons” offer new path to control complex materials

June 26, 2015 2:00 pm | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to manipulate a wide range of materials and their behavior using only a handful of helium ions. The team’s technique advances the understanding and use of complex oxide materials that boast unusual properties such as superconductivity and colossal magnetoresistance but are notoriously difficult to control.

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Z machine solves Saturn’s 2-billion-year age problem

June 26, 2015 1:45 pm | by Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Planets tend to cool as they get older, but Saturn is hotter than astrophysicists say it should be without some additional energy source. The unexplained heat has caused a two-billion-year discrepancy for computer models estimating Saturn's age.

Analysis shows increased carbon intensity from Canadian oil sands

June 26, 2015 10:23 am | by Greg Cunningham, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Argonne National Laboratory released a study that shows gasoline and diesel refined from Canadian oil sands have a higher carbon impact than fuels derived from conventional domestic crude sources. The research, which was conducted in collaboration with Stanford Univ. and the Univ. of California at Davis, shows variability in the increase of greenhouse gas impacts, depending on the type of extraction and refining methods.

Developing a better way to screen chemicals for cancer-causing effects

June 26, 2015 7:29 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The vast majority of the thousands of chemicals in our homes and workplaces have not been tested to determine if they cause cancer. That’s because today’s options are lacking. Rodent tests are too slow, and cell culture tests don’t replicate how cells interact in the body, so their relevance to cancer is limited. Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have set out to change that.

Analyzing ocean mixing reveals insight on climate

June 25, 2015 1:30 pm | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a computer model that clarifies the complex processes driving ocean mixing in the vast eddies that swirl across hundreds of miles of open ocean.

Silica “spiky screws” could enhance industrial coatings, additive manufacturing

June 24, 2015 3:30 pm | by Heidi Hill, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

It took marine sponges millions of years to perfect their spike-like structures, but research mimicking these formations may soon alter how industrial coatings and 3-D printed to additively manufactured objects are produced. A new molecular paves the way for improved silica structure design by introducing microscopic, segmented screw-like spikes that can more effectively bond materials for commercial use.

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New lenses grown layer-by-layer increase x-ray power

June 24, 2015 12:00 pm | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

When you're working with the brightest x-ray light source in the world, it's crucial that you make use of as many of the photons produced as possible. That's why physicists at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) are developing new lenses that focus x-ray beams to smaller spot sizes made up of more photons for better imaging resolution.

NRL researchers first to detect spin precision in silicon nanowires

June 24, 2015 11:30 am | by Donna McKinney, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory have reported the first observation of spin precession of spin currents flowing in a silicon nanowire transport channel, and determined spin lifetimes and corresponding spin diffusion lengths in these nanoscale spintronic devices.

Novel method for controlling plasma rotation

June 23, 2015 4:15 pm | by Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory | News | Comments

Rotation is key to the performance of salad spinners, toy tops and centrifuges, but recent research suggests a way to harness rotation for the future of mankind's energy supply. In recently published papers, a physicist at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory demonstrated a novel method that scientists can use to manipulate the intrinsic rotation of hot, charged plasma gas within fusion facilities called tokamaks.

How anthrax spores grow in cultured human tissues

June 23, 2015 8:37 am | by Greg Koller, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Cultured human lung cells infected with a benign version of anthrax spores have yielded insights into how anthrax grows and spreads in exposed people. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, will help provide credible data for human health related to anthrax exposure and help officials better understand risks related to a potential anthrax attack.

Sweeping lasers snap together nanoscale geometric grids

June 23, 2015 7:39 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Down at the nanoscale, where objects span just billionths of a meter, the size and shape of a material can often have surprising and powerful electronic and optical effects. Building larger materials that retain subtle nanoscale features is an ongoing challenge that shapes countless emerging technologies. Now, scientists have developed a new technique to create nanostructured grids for functional materials with unprecedented versatility.

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New “molecular movie” reveals ultrafast chemistry in motion

June 22, 2015 11:15 am | by Andrew Gordon, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Scientists, for the first time, tracked ultrafast structural changes, captured in quadrillionths-of-a-second steps, as ring-shaped gas molecules burst open and unraveled. Ring-shaped molecules are abundant in biochemistry and also form the basis for many drug compounds. The study points the way to a wide range of real-time x-ray studies of gas-based chemical reactions that are vital to biological processes.

Adapting nanoscience imaging tools to study ants’ heat-deflecting adaptations

June 19, 2015 7:41 am | by Alasdair Wilkins, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

The tiny hairs of Saharan silver ants possess crucial adaptive features that allow the ants to regulate their body temperatures and survive the scorching hot conditions of their desert habitat. According to a new research paper, the unique triangular shape and internal structure of the hairs play a key role in maintaining the ant’s average internal temperature below the critical thermal maximum of 53.6 C (128.48 F).

To give cancer a deadly fever, NIST explores better nanoparticle design

June 18, 2015 10:15 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Heat may be the key to killing certain types of cancer, and new research from a team including NIST scientists has yielded unexpected results that should help optimize the design of magnetic nanoparticles that can be used to deliver heat directly to cancerous tumors.

New tool on horizon for surgeons treating cancer patients

June 18, 2015 9:30 am | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Surgeons could know while their patients are still on the operating table if a tissue is cancerous, according to researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. In Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, a team led by ORNL's Vilmos Kertesz describes an automated droplet-based surface sampling probe that accomplishes in about 10 min what now routinely takes 20 to 30 min.

A new look at surface chemistry

June 18, 2015 8:24 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

For the first time in the long and vaunted history of scanning electron microscopy, the unique atomic structure at the surface of a material has been resolved. This landmark in scientific imaging was made possible by a new analytic technique developed by a multi-institutional team of researchers.

Preventing fires in next-generation lithium batteries

June 17, 2015 1:00 pm | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

In a study that could improve the safety of next-generation batteries, researchers discovered that adding two chemicals to the electrolyte of a lithium metal battery prevents the formation of dendrites—"fingers" of lithium that pierce the barrier between the battery's halves, causing it to short out, overheat and sometimes burst into flame.

Hooked on phonons

June 17, 2015 11:29 am | by NIST | News | Comments

An international research group led by scientists at NIST’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology has developed a method for measuring crystal vibrations in graphene. Understanding these vibrations is a critical step toward controlling future technologies based on graphene.

New fog chamber provides testing that could improve security cameras

June 17, 2015 8:21 am | by Heather Clark, Sandia National Laboratories | Videos | Comments

Fog can play a key role in cloaking military invasions and retreats and the actions of intruders. That’s why physical security experts seek to overcome fog, but it’s difficult to field test security cameras, sensors or other equipment in fog that is often either too thick or too ephemeral. Until now, collecting field test data in foggy environments was time-consuming and costly.

Unravelling the mysteries of carbonic acid

June 17, 2015 8:06 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Blink your eyes and it’s long gone. Carbonic acid exists for a tiny fraction of a second when carbon dioxide gas dissolves in water before changing into a mix of protons and bicarbonate anions. Despite its short life, carbonic acid imparts a lasting impact on Earth’s atmosphere and geology, as well as on the human body. However, because of its short lifespan, the detailed chemistry of carbonic acid has long been veiled in mystery.

New commercial method for producing medical isotope

June 16, 2015 8:05 am | by Greg Cunningham, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

The effort to secure a stable, domestic source of a critical medical isotope reached an important milestone this month as the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory demonstrated the production, separation and purification of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) using a process developed in cooperation with SHINE Medical Technologies.

Leaving on a biofueled jet plane

June 16, 2015 7:55 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The problem is simple to understand. Molecules of carbon and other greenhouse gases absorb heat. The more greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, the warmer the atmosphere becomes, exacerbating global climate change. Solving the problem is not so simple, especially with regards to aviation.

A bright light for ultrafast snapshots of materials

June 11, 2015 4:46 pm | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

If you want to understand how novel phases emerge in correlated materials you can obtain complete viewpoints by taking “snapshots” of underlying rapid electronic interactions. One way to do this is by delivering pulses of extremely short-wavelength UV light to a material and deriving information based on the energy and direction of travel of the emitted electrons.

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