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Big, bad bacterium is an 'iron pirate'

February 21, 2012 3:53 am | News | Comments

Life inside the human body sometimes looks like life on the high seas in the 1960s, when pirates hijacked foreign vessels in search of precious metals. For Neisseria bacteria, which can cause gonorrhea and meningitis, the booty is not gold or silver but plain old iron. Until recently, scientists did not understand how these bacterial snatch iron from healthy human cells, where a protein called transferrin bind the metal in a molecular bear hug.

Small modular reactor design could be a SUPERSTAR

February 9, 2012 8:21 am | News | Comments

Though most of today's nuclear reactors are cooled by water, we've long known that there are alternatives; in fact, the world's first nuclear-powered electricity in 1951 came from a reactor cooled by sodium. Reactors cooled by liquid metals such as sodium or lead have a unique set of abilities that may again make them significant players in the nuclear industry. Argonne National Laboratory has designed a new small reactor cooled by lead.

A natural solution for transportation

February 3, 2012 3:46 am | News | Comments

As the United States transitions away from a primarily petroleum-based transportation industry, a number of different alternative fuel sources—ethanol, biodiesel, electricity, and hydrogen—have each shown their own promise. Hoping to expand the pool even further, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have begun to investigate adding one more contender to the list of possible energy sources for light-duty cars and trucks: Compressed natural gas.

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Disappearing gold a boon for nanolattices

January 27, 2012 8:05 am | News | Comments

When gold vanishes from a very important location, it usually means trouble. At the nanoscale, however, it could provide more knowledge about certain types of materials. A recent discovery that enables scientists to replace gold nanoparticles with dummy "spacers" has allowed scientists to create materials with never-before-seen structures, which may lead to new properties.

Designing self-repairing batteries

January 11, 2012 8:07 am | News | Comments

Imagine dropping your phone on the hard concrete sidewalk—but when you pick it up, you find its battery has already healed itself. A team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Argonne National Laboratory are exploring ways to design batteries that heal themselves when damaged.

A look into the interfaces of nanoscale polymeric materials

January 9, 2012 5:03 am | News | Comments

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 Argonne National Laboratory's Advanced Photon Source.

Ironing out the details of the Earth's core

December 20, 2011 2:50 am | News | Comments

Identifying the composition of the Earth's core is key to understanding how our planet formed and the current behavior of its interior. While it has been known for many years that iron is the main element in the core, many questions have remained about just how iron behaves under the conditions found deep in the Earth. Until now.

Hints of the Higgs show in latest analyses

December 14, 2011 8:39 am | News | Comments

Two experiments at the Large Hadron Collider have nearly eliminated the space in which the Higgs boson could dwell, scientists announced Tuesday. However, the ATLAS and CMS experiments see modest excesses in their data that could soon uncover the famous missing piece of the physics puzzle.

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A more efficient way to make molecular hydrogen

December 9, 2011 3:17 am | News | Comments

When it comes to the industrial production of chemicals, often the most indispensable element is one that you can't see, smell, or even taste. It's hydrogen, the lightest element of all. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have developed an efficient two-step process that electrolyzes hydrogen atoms from water molecules before combining them to make molecular hydrogen.

Unlocking algal secrets may help clean up radioactive isotopes

December 1, 2011 3:33 am | News | Comments

Using the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, a group of Northwestern University and Argonne scientists have figured out the secrets of algae that can preferentially take up strontium over calcium—a task so difficult that it's not easily done even in a laboratory. The algae could form the basis of new technologies to clean up contaminated land or water.

Materials scientists watch electron 'melt'

November 22, 2011 3:30 am | News | Comments

When a skier rushes down a ski slope or a skater glides across an ice rink, a very thin melted layer of liquid water forms on the surface of the ice crystals, which allows for a smooth glide instead of a rough skid. In a recent experiment, scientists have discovered that the interface between the surface and bulk electronic structures of certain crystalline materials can act in much the same way.

DOE captures fugitives to reduce its carbon emissions

November 16, 2011 10:00 am | News | Comments

In terms of emissions, just one pound of sulfur hexafluoride, a nontoxic gas used in electric insulation, is equivalent to about 11 tons of carbon dioxide. Energy Department experts are hunting down this and other fugitive carbon emissions and have already prevented the release of 600,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent.

Batteries get a quick charge with new anode technology

November 3, 2011 4:55 am | News | Comments

A breakthrough in components for next-generation batteries could come from special materials that transform their structure to perform better over time. A team of researchers at Argonne National Laboratory discovered that nanotubes composed of titanium dioxide can switch their phase as a battery is cycled, gradually boosting their operational capacity.

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Solar concentrator increases collection with less loss

November 2, 2011 9:44 am | News | Comments

Converting sunlight into electricity is not economically attractive because of the high cost of solar cells, but a recent, purely optical approach to improving luminescent solar concentrators  may ease the problem, according to researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and Penn State University.

Sodium-ion batteries that are worth their salt

October 25, 2011 5:04 am | News | Comments

Although lithium-ion technology dominates headlines in battery research and development, a new element is making its presence known as a potentially powerful alternative: sodium. Sodium-ion technology possesses a number of benefits that lithium-based energy storage cannot capture, and Argonne National Laboratory is looking to improve the performance of ambient-temperature sodium-based batteries.

NIST measures key property of potential spintronic material

October 20, 2011 3:33 am | News | Comments

An advanced material that could help bring about next-generation "spintronic" computers has revealed one of its fundamental secrets to a team of scientists from Argonne National Laboratory and NIST.

Miniaturizing nuclear recycling experiments

October 19, 2011 9:36 am | News | Comments

Designing better ways to recycle spent nuclear fuel could make nuclear energy a safer solution to the global energy problem, but there are a lot of gaps in our chemical knowledge—and it's difficult to get those answers when the experiments involve radioactive material. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have one answer: Shrink the whole experiment down—to microliters.

Lab biophysicist invents improvement to Monte Carlo technique

October 18, 2011 4:10 am | News | Comments

Jerome P. Nilmeier, a biophysicist working in computational biology, is willing to bet his new research will provide a breakthrough in the use of the Monte Carlo probability code in biological simulations.

Argonne awarded $1.9 million for hydropower study

October 17, 2011 12:23 pm | News | Comments

New life has been pumped into the study and modeling of hydropower storage plants, thanks to a new $1.9 million Department of Energy grant awarded to a project led by Argonne National Laboratory.

Argonne team helps map Fukushima radiation release

October 11, 2011 1:05 pm | News | Comments

As the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors unfolded in Japan, several employees at Argonne National Laboratory were lacing up their boots. Part of the Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) team, region five, their normal operating ground covers 10 Midwestern states—but this time their expertise was needed abroad.

Dow, Argonne National Laboratory collaborate on new battery materials

October 5, 2011 6:36 am | News | Comments

The Dow Chemical Company and Argonne National Laboratory announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for a multi-year research collaboration to jointly develop the next generation of materials for advanced battery technologies.

Argonne receives grant to create cheaper magnets

October 3, 2011 4:17 am | by Jared Sagoff | News | Comments

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $3 million grant to Argonne National Laboratory to further research in developing better, cheaper, and lighter magnets.

Solar cell technology gives light waves 'amnesia'

September 27, 2011 4:10 am | News | Comments

For years, scientists have dealt with the problem of trying to increase the efficiency and drive down the cost of solar cells. Now researchers have hit upon a new idea—trying to give the light collected by solar cells a bit of "amnesia." At Argonne National Laboratory, researchers have investigated the use of fluorescent plastics called luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) that can be used to lower the cost of electricity from solar cells.

Krypton-81 isotope can help map underground waterways

September 21, 2011 9:44 am | News | Comments

Cataloging underground waterways, some of which extend for thousands of miles, has always been difficult—but scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, with colleagues from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the International Atomic Energy Agency, are mapping them with some unusual equipment: lasers and a rare isotope.

Powering wind energy with superconductivity

September 20, 2011 8:41 am | News | Comments

Argonne National Laboratory is working with Florida-based Advanced Magnet Lab on a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored project to develop the first fully superconducting direct-drive generator for large wind turbines, with the goal of significantly reducing the cost of wind energy.

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