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The Lead

X-rays unlock a protein’s SWEET side

September 15, 2014 8:41 am | by Justin Breaux, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Sugar is a vital source of energy. Understanding just how sugar makes its way into the cell could lead to the design of better drugs for diabetes patients and an increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables farmers are able to grow. Stanford Univ. researchers have recently uncovered one of these "pathways” into the cell by piecing together proteins slightly wider than the diameter of a strand of spider silk.

Electron microscopes take first measurements of nanoscale chemistry in action

September 4, 2014 8:15 am | by Louise Lerner, Argonne National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Scientists’ underwater cameras got a boost this summer from the Electron Microscopy Center at...

Composition of Earth’s mantle revisited

August 27, 2014 8:31 am | by Louise Lerner, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Research published last week in Science...

Nanofactory in a Box

August 26, 2014 11:06 am | Award Winners

Growing, harvesting and characterizing nanowires sounds like a job for an experienced researcher...

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Resistance is Not Futile

August 26, 2014 10:52 am | Award Winners

In lithography, polymer “resists” are applied as a thin, continuous layer over material that is to be patterned. The resist is patterned, then removed after the pattern is duplicated on the silicon underneath. However, smaller patterns demand thinner resists, which can’t survive plasma patterning. Sequential Infiltration Synthesis (SIS) Lithography, developed by Argonne National Laboratory and implemented in industrial settings by several industry leaders, gives the resist the ability to withstand plasma etching.

No Overcharging Here

August 19, 2014 2:14 pm | Award Winners

Thorough testing by A123 Systems LLC has shown that ANL-RS2 Advanced Redox Shuttle Additive is a highly reliable and high-performance electrolyte additive for EV battery cells using LiFePO4 as the cathode material. When dissolved in the electrolyte of a LiFePO4-based lithium-ion battery cell, the ANL-RS2 Redox Shuttle Additive remains inert until the potential of the cell increases from 3.6 to 3.9 V during an overcharging event.

Thin diamond films provide new material for micro-machines

August 5, 2014 6:12 pm | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Most MEMS are made primarily of silicon for reasons of convenience, but they wear out quickly due to friction and they are not biocompatible. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and a handful of other institutions around the world have directed their focus on ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD), which are smooth and wear-resistant diamond thin films. Recent work opens the door to using diamond for fabricating advanced MEMS devices.

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Turning methane into usable liquid fuel

August 5, 2014 8:48 am | by Louise Lerner, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory and the Illinois Institute of Technology were awarded $2 million over the course of two years to fund studies on hybrid fuel cells from the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. The research seeks to create a fuel cell that would both produce electricity and convert methane gas to ethane or ethylene that could then be converted to a liquid fuel or valuable chemicals.

Peeling back the layers of thin film structure and chemistry

July 11, 2014 12:33 pm | by Erika Gebel Berg, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Perovskites continue to entice materials scientists with their mix of conductivity, ferroelectricity, ferromagnetism, and catalytic activity. In recent years, scientists realized that they could vastly improve the properties of perovskites by assembling them into thin films, but nobody knew the reason why. But studying the chemistry layer-by-layer, experts working with x-ray beamline at Argonne National Laboratory are getting close.

Unprecedented detail of intact neuronal receptor offers blueprint for drug developers

July 9, 2014 8:23 am | by Tona Kunz, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists succeeded in obtaining an unprecedented view of a type of brain cell receptor that is implicated in a range of neurological illnesses. The team of biologists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory used the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory to get an atomic-level picture of the intact NMDA (N-methyl, D-aspartate) receptor should serve as template and guide for the design of therapeutic compounds.

Neutrons, x-rays reveal structure of high-temperature liquid metal oxides

June 2, 2014 8:16 am | by Katie Bethea, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

By levitating a bead of ceramic oxide, heating it with a 400-W carbon dioxide laser, then shooting the molten material with x-rays and neutrons, scientists with Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories have revealed unprecedented detail of the structure of high-temperature liquid oxides.

Study: Solar panel manufacturing is greener in Europe than China

May 30, 2014 8:42 am | by Louise Lerner, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Solar panels made in China have a higher overall carbon footprint and are likely to use substantially more energy during manufacturing than those made in Europe, said a new study from Northwestern Univ. and Argonne National Laboratory. The report compared energy and greenhouse gas emissions that go into the manufacturing process of solar panels in Europe and China.

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Microscopy charges ahead

May 29, 2014 8:05 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

In order to see the true polarization of ferroelectric materials quickly and efficiently, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new technique called charge gradient microscopy. Charge gradient microscopy uses the tip of a conventional atomic force microscope to scrape and collect the surface screen charges.

Scientists discover new magnetic phase in iron-based superconductors

May 23, 2014 8:16 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a previously unknown phase in a class of superconductors called iron arsenides. This sheds light on a debate over the interactions between atoms and electrons that are responsible for their unusual superconductivity.

Insight on HIV lifecycle gained through creative use of high-energy x-rays

May 14, 2014 7:59 am | by Tona Kunz, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

A key step in the decades-long mystery of the HIV lifecycle was uncovered using what formerly was thought of as only a supplementary x-ray technique for structural biology. This advances study of HIV as well as highlights a powerful tool to obtain currently unobtainable high-resolution structural determination and characterization of RNA molecules.

Advanced Photon Source to remain leader in protein structure research for years

May 7, 2014 2:19 pm | by Brian Grabowski, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

No x-ray facility in the world has supported more protein structure research and characterized more proteins than the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. Soon this 2/3-mile-in-circumference x-ray instrument will get a boost in efficiency that likely will translate into a big boon for the discovery of new pharmaceuticals and the control of genetic disorders and other diseases, as well as advancing the biotech industry.

Scientists gain new insight into mysterious electronic phenomenon

April 14, 2014 7:54 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

For more than a quarter of a century, high-temperature superconductors have perplexed scientists who seek to understand the physical phenomena responsible for their unique properties. Thanks to a new study by Argonne National Laboratory, researchers have identified and solved at least one paradox in the behavior of high-temperature superconductors.

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A layered nanostructure held together by DNA

March 20, 2014 12:40 pm | by David Lindley, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new strategy for building nanoscale constructs uses the binding properties of complementary strands of DNA to attach nanoparticles to each other. A series of controlled steps builds up a layered thin-film nanostructure. Small-angle x-ray scattering analysis has revealed the precise form that the structures adopted, and points to ways of exercising still greater control over the final arrangement.

Nanoscale freezing leads to better imaging

February 26, 2014 4:40 pm | by Justin H.S. Breaux | News | Comments

For scientists to determine if a cell is functioning properly, they often must destroy it with ionizing radiation, which is used in x-ray fluorescence microscopy to provide detail that conventional microscopes can’t match. To address this, Argonne National Laboratory researchers created the R&D 100 Award-winning Bionanoprobe, which freezes cells to “see” at greater detail without damaging the sample.

National labs join forces to develop next supercomputers

February 26, 2014 9:36 am | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has joined forces with two other national laboratories—Oak Ridge and Argonne—to deliver next-generation supercomputers able to perform up to 200 peak petaflops, about 10 times faster than today's most powerful high-performance computing (HPC) systems.

Silver linings

February 25, 2014 8:48 am | by Justin H.S. Breaux, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory in collaboration with scientists at Northwestern Univ. are the first to grow graphene on silver which, until now, posed a major challenge to many in the field. Part of the issue has to do with the properties of silver, the other involves the process by which graphene is grown.

Artificial leaf jumps developmental hurdle

February 18, 2014 11:00 am | News | Comments

In a recent early online edition of Nature Chemistry, Arizona State Univ. scientists, along with colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory, have reported advances toward perfecting a functional artificial leaf. Designing an artificial leaf that uses solar energy to convert water cheaply and efficiently into hydrogen and oxygen is one of the goals of BISfuel.

X-ray analysis shows thermotropic phase boundaries in classic ferroelectrics

February 6, 2014 12:52 pm | News | Comments

Lead-free BaTiO3 and KNbO3 ferroelectrics have been known and studied for more than 60 years. However, recent scanning x-ray diffraction studies at Argonne National Laboratory have shown new low-symmetry intermediate phases in these materials that lend a thermotropic character to otherwise well-known phase transitions. The findings show that these transitions in ferroelectrics are closely coupled to the underlying domain microstructure.  

Technique grows tiny “hairy” materials at the microscale

February 3, 2014 8:16 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory attacked a tangled problem by developing a new technique to grow tiny “hairy” materials that assemble themselves at the microscale. The key ingredient is epoxy, which is added to a mixture of hardener and solvent inside an electric cell. Then the scientists run an alternating current through the cell and watch long, twisting fibers spring up. It looks like the way Chia pets grow in commercials.

Solar cell technology captures high-energy photons more efficiently

January 24, 2014 8:38 am | News | Comments

Getting the blues is rarely a desirable experience—unless you’re a solar cell, that is. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and the Univ. of Texas at Austin have together developed a new, inexpensive material that has the potential to capture and convert solar energy—particularly from the bluer part of the spectrum—much more efficiently than ever before.

Cobalt catalysts allow researchers to duplicate complicated steps of photosynthesis

January 13, 2014 4:19 pm | News | Comments

Humans have for ages taken cues from nature to build their own devices, but duplicating the steps in the complicated electronic dance of photosynthesis remains one of the biggest challenges and opportunities for chemists. Currently, the most efficient methods we have for making fuel from sunlight and water involve rare and expensive metal catalysts. However, that is about to change.

Scientists reduce protein crystal damage, improve pharmaceutical development

December 18, 2013 1:47 pm | News | Comments

New recommendations for using x-rays promise to speed investigations aimed at understanding the structure of biologically important proteins. In their study, the scientists evaluated options to remedy problems affecting data collection. Scientists who use x-ray beams to study protein crystals face a dilemma: The beams provide the best tool for understanding a protein's structure and biological function, but they often damage the crystal.

New material could make solar panels cheaper, more efficient

December 11, 2013 3:10 pm | News | Comments

A unique solar panel design made with a new ceramic material points the way to potentially providing sustainable power cheaper, more efficiently, and requiring less manufacturing time. It also reaches a four-decade-old goal of discovering a bulk photovoltaic material that can harness energy from visible and infrared light, not just ultraviolet light.

Newly identified protein provides target for antibiotic-resistant hospital bacterium

November 27, 2013 8:49 am | News | Comments

Researchers have made inroads into tackling a bacterium that plagues hospitals and is highly resistant to most antibiotics. They determined the 3-D structure and likely function of a new protein in this common bacterium that attacks those with compromised immune systems.

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